What is Evil?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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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

    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".


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    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.


    Stealing someone's quote on this one but, "If you have to ask if an action is evil, it usually is."

    Killing in general is not an evil act, however in this if a player begins to like the killing and revel in it then they may still become evil due to circumstances.
    Killing an innocent (usually someone like a child or a person with little or no grasp of what "evil" is) is almost always an evil act in my opinion.
    Torture is an evil act because even though it can be for the right reasons its slowly causing someone the most pain/discomfort you can.
    Selfishness is not evil in an of itself, it is just a bi-product of evil.
    Stealing and looting are not necessarily evil but this is kind of a gray area.
    Dishonesty is certainly not a good act however it isn't really an evil act either.

    Most of the questions that you asked answers for are very situational. If I lie to the guard captain about who the murderer is because I want people to die am I evil, probably. Was the 'lie' in and of itself evil? I'm not sure.


    There are many threads regarding this point. There are many logical and well reasoned articles on this point. Read any/all of those. Have your party do the same. Then have the GM of the party define what he or she considers to fall into which alignment. Wisdom of the crowd doesn't mean anything here. It is an issue between the GM and the players of a particular group.

    You can't attach a globally agreed morality to something as vague as "killing in general" or "threats". What is the context? Morality is all about context and surrounding situation. If it is evil to kill sentient beings what do you do with a character that doesn't consider hill giants to be sentient?

    What is the purpose of this conversation? Will there be a vote? Will that vote be imposed on the rest of us? That list of situations is a good one; very useful for broaching the discussing towards finding a common ground within a group of players. But on the forums you will be unable to find consensus. If it was possible, it would have happened by now.


    This thread was in response to "Torture is evil". If alignment is supposed to be an objective force, then it should be able to be defined. There are so many articles but they don't really talk about how evil is viewed in any particular game. The most defined I've seen is "Evil is selfishness". Which is fine as a definition. All I want to know is what people are defining as evil in their games and if all the things they espouse as evil fall into their definition of evil. In real life, many people will define evil as "all that is in opposition of God" which is valid.

    Nobody needs to make a vote, this doesn't need to be imposed, this is merely to try and understand how people see "evil" in their game. Unity is not tolerance nor is it understanding. I don't care about consensus, I just want to understand.


    I had a Half Fiend Lawful Evil Wizard.

    He convinced his entire party made up of goodly characters that there was no such thing as Good or Evil. They where made up Ideals that society had forced down our throats as a method of control. That in reality there where only two truths.

    Law and Power.

    I actually wrote his arguement out. I will post it when I get to my home computer.

    He even turned the Chaotic Good Half Celestial True Neutral by the end of the game. Was epic fun roleplay.

    Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

    It really depends entirely on the tone of the game in question, i.e. where the game sits on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.

    In the case of Torture,

    In an idealistic setting, torture is objectively and always evil. It's sort of behavior only tyrants and fiends engage in.

    In a more cynical setting, sometimes the good guys have to get their hands dirty in order to save the day. Torture is unpleasant, but not objectively Evil.

    So long as you're internally consistent, answering Alignment questions like this can be a great way to set the tone of the campaign.


    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.

    This is a fairly good explanation of alignment but it doesn't cover certain situations.

    Say a boy's parents are killed by orcs and he grows up an orphan. He eventually becomes a mercenary and takes great pleasure from slaughtering orcs. However, he donates a great deal of his earnings to orphanages. His love of killing orcs is evil while his selfless donations to charity are good. Assuming that each would be strong enough to make him good or evil on their own, what is his alignment?


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    I think the answer to most of these is "it depends". What drill sergeants put new recruits through at Boot Camp can be considered torture. However, the purpose behind it may be to preserve the lives of soldiers going into battle by making sure they are prepared.

    Intent can be more important than the type of action. Telling someone a white lie probably isn't evil, telling a lie that you know will cause the death of many people if it is believed is evil.


    Old man, I know you are right, so generally I'm picky about the when and why of alignment detection. A character, other than evil extra planar beings, is only evil while involved in an evil act, planning one, or covering one up.

    Your character in the example is treated as evil while at war, and gets a pass the rest of the time. For that reason, paladins have to remain suspicious of non-evil characters and sometimes be compassionate to evil ones.

    If the slaughtering of the orcs was in accordance with the law, the paladin won't mind.

    Of course in my world, orcs are born irridemably evil so killing them is never an evil act. They were created by an evil god to beat down humans.


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    Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

    It really depends entirely on the tone of the game in question, i.e. where the game sits on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.

    In the case of Torture,

    In an idealistic setting, torture is objectively and always evil. It's sort of behavior only tyrants and fiends engage in.

    In a more cynical setting, sometimes the good guys have to get their hands dirty in order to save the day. Torture is unpleasant, but not objectively Evil.

    So long as you're internally consistent, answering Alignment questions like this can be a great way to set the tone of the campaign.

    Nope: the good characters have succumbed to expedience by getting their "hands dirty." It's STILL an evil act. Yes, it will take more than one evil act to actually shift their alignment to evil, but it's the first step on a slippery slope; the more often one condones evil actions, the easier it is to keep taking them, in the interests of getting the job done. Expedience is the quickest route to evil, in my experience.


    I love this discussion.

    Although 'what is good' is probably more interesting. Particularly since <Arrooogah! Arooogah! Pet hate alert! Pet hate alert!> my experience is that people often choose to play Chaotic Good so a) they don't 'have to' obey the law and b) they can indiscriminately kill and torture when it's convenient because 'their personal code of ethics says it's ok'.

    I assume you mean 'what acts by a character violate a 'good' alignment' rather than the more philosophical 'what is evil and how can an ominipotent morally perfect divinity tolerate it?' It's important in a game where alignment is important for a player and gm to have a shared understanding of this, otherwise it's not.

    Imagine aa antique dealer who hasn't realised that a painting he is selling is an original Rembrandt. Buying it for a song is probably neutral, the 'good' character would tell the person that they had a treasure on their hands and had mis-identified it. Stealing the picture, evil. Stealing the picture so you can sell it to fund famine relief in the third world...ummm...now it gets complicated. As Benchak and others have said - context.

    For myself I tend to encourage characters who are perfectly happy with 'little evils' to put 'evil' on their character sheet. A character who doesn't care whether harm comes to others from their actions is evil, one who considers the impact on others and balances it with the personal gain to them is probably neutral and the one who is basically unwilling for their actions to harm others is good. ('Others' of course is another flexible term; orcs, for example, don't usually count as 'others' but wholesale slaughter of non-combatant orcs is evil in any game I'm running).

    Most of my own characters at least start as either 'good' or 'evil' because I think it's hardest of all to decide what 'neutral' is. In one campaign I'm in with two parallel character groups I started with an evil character and a neutral character. I still have an evil character and a neutral character, but they're not the same ones.


    Here is how I do it.

    Evil is for NPCs at my table. Those evil NPCs stick to easily identifiable tropes. This page will be your best friend. In a world where good and evil are tangible forces this keeps things simple.

    This doesn't mean I don't challenge my players with moral decisions, it does mean those challenges are more about overcoming the temptation of taking the easy (evil) road for the heroic one, and ultimately leads to greater reward.

    I play it this way because it keeps arguments down at the table for less experienced or nuanced role players (most of the people I have played with). It also keeps the adventure on track when the only reason to continue forward is "because we are heroes and heroes never quit".

    This system still leaves space for character traits like the barbarian having a short temper, the thief that pockets the odd useful item when nobody is looking, and so on. But when it comes to the big things I prefer to have my players discussing how to solve their problems heroically. By making it the goal from the very beginning that the party is adventuring toward a heroic manifest destiny we can get to kicking monster ass much more smoothly.

    Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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    Couple opening points:
    1. IRL I consider evil to have no positive existence independent of good. Evil is not the opposite of good; it's a corruption of good. Many good things, when taken to extremes, are evil. This definition of evil doesn't work well in D&D because D&D is basically dualistic.
    2. "The end may justify the means." This will be my answer to a lot of the points below. The end doesn't always justify the means, but sometimes it does. It all depends on the end achieved and the means used. It's a question of moral priority. I will provide an example to illustrate.

    •Killing in General: The end may justify the means. Ex.: a SWAT sniper headshots a hostage taker to prevent him from harming the hostage.

    •Killing an innocent being (Define innocent being please): evil if intentional. I cannot envision a scenario in which the ends do justify the means in this case. Ex.: a demon threatens "if you do not sacrifice to me an innocent being, I will wipe out this village and the blood will be on your hands." No, the blood is on the demon's hands. It has made the moral decision already.

    •Torture: The ends may justify the means. Very gray area, though. To be good at torture requires true cruelty which is evil.

    •Selfishness: Example of a good that often becomes evil in extremes. As individuals and as a species, we could not survive without a healthy helping of self-preservation instinct. Ex.: "good" selfishness is why we demand a fair loot distribution. "Bad" selfishness takes all the loot without regard for anybody else.

    •Stealing / Looting: Ends may justify the means. Kind of hard to play the game without killing monsters and looting their lairs.

    •Poison: Ends may justify the means, especially for nonlethal debilitating or knockout poisons. Ex.: pepper spray.

    •Dishonesty: Ends may justify the means. Ex.: "No, I am not hiding Jews."

    •Controlling Someone Else (ie. authority or geas): Ends may justify the means--depends what you make them do and why. Even the most well-intentioned geases can be morally questionable.

    •Slavery: Always evil to some degree, although some systems of slavery are more benign than others (such as indentured servitude). Depends a lot on the underlying culture and laws and on the individual slaveowner.

    •Threats / Intimidation: Ends may justify the means. Ex.: drill sergeant intimidates recruits to train harder. Unpleasant but not evil.

    •Worshiping an evil deity: Evil. Evil deities generally require you to do evil things. Evil deity dogma warps your soul. And in PFRPG if you worship an evil deity it ultimately results in your eternal suffering.

    •Undead: Evil, but ends may justify the means. Ex.: Aragorn and the Oathbreakers. Intentional creation of undead is pretty hard to justify--usually there's some other way to solve the problem without creating unaging beings inimical to all life.

    •Demons / Devils: Evil. Evil subtype = made of evil.

    •Summoning / Creating "evil" entities to work for you: See undead. Summoning evil creatures and making them work for you may be justifiable, especially if it is done as a form of punishment.

    Dark Archive

    The subject is hard to define. While extreme examples of good and evil are usually clear, it becomes more blurry at the lines.

    What's more, it's especially hard to define given the nature of the game. Alignment, and thus "good" and "evil" is objective in dnd. Evil is Evil, nevermind who's watching it happen, and it always registers in Detect Evil. However, "evil" and "good" are really not objective observations - definition of evil and good depend on the subjective experience and observations of the situation.

    Example: A man steals from a woman.

    From the Woman's perspective: The man (and the act) is evil, plain and simple, given how he breaks the law and steals from her.

    From the Man's perspective: He (and the act) is good, since he steals to buy food and shelter for orphans.

    From a deity's perspective: The act was most likely very neutral. Someone took of other's. The other act, however - donating to orphans - is a good act, an act of altruism - and the man is likely of good alignment. This does not make the act of stealing, good. If the man stole at a knife-point and took sadistic pleasure and joy from seeing the woman being afraid to die and shaking in panic - It would be evil, most likely. As Cranewings said, a lot depends on your emotions, and I agree.

    Another example - you kill a dog.

    You killed a dog, because it was wounded, and it is your duty to end it's suffering - it couldn't have been helped. Neutral.

    You killed a dog -that- was wounded, and took sadistic satisfaction from watching the poor animal squirm in it's death throes. Evil.

    You killed a dog to take pity on it. The animal had been wounded, and nothing could have been done to save it's life. You felt remorse and sadness at the passing of this innocent piece of nature, that had done nothing to deserve the fate that it got. Good.
    (Please note that we do not actually care nor observe what had happened to the dog - it does not matter wether it was an innocent piece of nature or a rabid beast that broke it's legs while chasing you and three orphans across thorny bushes. Nope, that doesn't have any effect on -your- actions.)

    Likewise, you could substitute the dog with a villain, and end with the same conclusion.

    Thus, in my opinion, the motivation behind your act defines wether it is good, or evil. In a way, one could say that instead of our actions defining our alignment, our alignment often defines our motivation, and thus our action's shade of colour.

    One could also say that causing unnecessary discomfort, pain, or death to others, is evil, while causing only the necessary amount would be neutral, and avoiding even that would be good. Likewise for good acts - doing unnecessary good things is good, doing the necessary amount but no more is neutral, and doing as little as one can is evil.

    Thus, your list:
    Killing in General
    - Depends on -why- and -how you feel- about it.
    Killing an innocent being
    - See above. Please do note that if a good character goes around killing innocents without providing any motivation for it, or even saying that he feels remorse and really, really bad about it, then he's just a jerk, and evil to boot (He most likely enjoys killing, but does not admit it).
    Torture
    - This is difficilt. I can't figure out any situation where torture would be good. But if you don't find pleasure in it, it could be neutral - and if you balance it with good intetions (torturing someone to get the password to stop the nuke, and save the world) then the forth-coming good actions will most likely balance it out. (thus, not necessarily forbidden for good characters, but they definately should avoid it).
    Selfishness
    - If you do something out of selfishness, you are neutral, or evil, depending on wether or not it hurts others, and how much it does hurt them, and do you enjoy it?
    Stealing / Looting
    - See the example above about stealing.
    Poison
    - Again, enjoyment and intentions. If you use poison to prolong someones suffering, that's evil. It's no more nor less evil than sticking a sword through gut, unless you plan it to be slow and painful etc.
    Dishonesty
    - See Selfishness. Not evil in and off itself.
    Controlling Someone Else (ie. authority or geas)
    - Putting Geas on the evil dude to make sure he does go and save the world? A necessary evil, ie, good or neutral. Forcing others to do your will, and enjoying it? Evil.
    Slavery
    - I think slavery goes very dark on the gray scale. Basically, you enjoy through the misery of others is evil.
    Threats / Intimidation
    - My thoughts? Not evil inheritantly, but then again, depends on the -why-.
    Worshiping an evil deity
    - Now this is interesting. Deities represent concepts and things - portfolio and domains. Do you worship him because as a spy, you'll need his blessings of stealth, guile and trickery (and murder), or because you enjoy the ideal of being able to elevate oneself above other through dark rituals that require human sacrifices?
    Undead
    - I'll cover undead below
    Demons / Devils
    - These beings are inheritently evil. Often, their power at corruption is such that even meddling with them can cause one get closer to becoming "evil". One could also argue that by helping them, you willingly bring more evil into the world. There's also the bit that since they are inheritantly evil, nearly all good, and most neutral beings, refuse to work with them - since there are always risks. Thus, the fact that you are willing to work with one, means that you most likely do not care about such things as good or evil - and might even enjoy a little bit of cruelty every now and then. That is: Working with them is not evil per say, unless you specifically agree to a contract or something, in which case you might have given them more than what you thought (even if you think you didn't step on the "evil" side just yet). It's just that you might not realize the consequences.
    Summoning / Creating "evil" entities to work for you
    - See above.

    Undead. My favorite subject.
    I haven't so far found out Pathfinder's policy about undead, but there's usually two different views regarding undead.
    Fact: Undead and negative energy are closely tied together.
    Question: Is negative energy (the animating force) - inheritently evil, or not? Because undead certainly are "mindless". If they are evil, they must get their evil incentives from somewhere, and the force that makes them move is the most likely answer.

    Case 1
    Assumption: Negative energy is inheritently evil.
    Consequence: Undead are inheritently evil.
    This is the usual "default" asumption. This means that even the mindless undead are driven to acts of cruelty and slaughter. Uncontrolled zombies and skeletons wander the land in search of victims. Creating something that enjoys destroying life is certainly evil.

    However, what if undead aren't evil?
    Case 2
    Assumption: Negative energy isn't evil
    Indirect consequence: Undead aren't necessarily "evil".
    This isn't as common, but let's stop for a moment. While we'll ponder that undead might not be totally evil, we can keep in mind that they are abominations to life, and their alignment could still be reflected as Evil, and thus keep the paladins happy if you really want to.
    Now, undead are most commonly encountered in crypts. What do they do there? Attack adventurers. Why? Because they are evil? Nope. They could just as well be simply guarding the crypt against intruders. If we believe that undead are not necessarily evil, then most likely effect is that when a necromancer looses control of undead, they don't go on a rampage - nope, they stop in their tracks.
    Undead, as unintelligent beings, are no different from golems, are they not? They are just bits and pieces of clay (golems) or bones (skeletons) animated by a force, and follow their creators commands. Technically, in this setting, undead should probably be neutral, as animals are.

    There are also other reasons why creating undead could be considered evil. Perhaps it prevents the soul from finding rest? Perhaps the energy needs to come from somewhere, and a kitten dies every time you raise a minion?

    In any case, it always depends on the setting. If one wanted, one could create a setting (or run any game) where the intention has no weigh, but the consequences do. Personally, I feel that the motivation has the strongest impact on the evilness or goodness of an act. Slaughtering non-combatant orcs is always evil - if you try to convince yourself that it's a good and necessary thing to do, you're just lying to yourself. A good example of such a system are animals in dnd/PF. True Neutral. Killed an evil warlord? The animal is still neutral. Killed a dozen orphans? Still neutral. No motivation except basic needs.

    I'd also like to add that I -do not- consider that ends justify means. I mean, the ends -could balance out- the means used, if you reach said ends.

    (One could argue that cats are inheritantly evil, playing with their food and 100% enjoying it!)


    Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

    I take good to mean a view that others' happiness is inherently valuable. Increasing others happiness is something a good person wants to do.

    Evil is someone who values others' unhappiness. In my view, to be evil it implies you actually enjoy causing suffering.

    Those are general and I don't think people are strictly rational (so a good person may take pleasure in some specific enemy's misfortune and an evil person may work to further some specific person's interests - the general inclination, though will be as above).

    Specific acts are neither good nor evil, in my game - context is important and intent/motivation is the key factor.

    Silver Crusade

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    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    What is love
    Oh baby, don't hurt me
    Don't hurt me no more

    Errr...wrong thread.

    Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

    Alitan wrote:
    Nope: the good characters have succumbed to expedience by getting their "hands dirty." It's STILL an evil act. Yes, it will take more than one evil act to actually shift their alignment to evil, but it's the first step on a slippery slope; the more often one condones evil actions, the easier it is to keep taking them, in the interests of getting the job done. Expedience is the quickest route to evil, in my experience.

    That's certainly true for a lot of games, but I don't believe it should be true for all game. I think the GM should have some authority in this case to help set the tone of his campaign.

    Dark Archive

    "Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code."

    -Wikipedia

    "Evil [ee-vuhl]
    adjective
    1.morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.
    2.harmful; injurious: evil laws.
    3.characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous: to be fallen on evil days.
    4.due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character: an evil reputation.
    5.marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.: He is known for his evil disposition."

    -Dictionary.com

    That being said, Pathfinder doesn't have room for moral quandaries or else classes such as the paladin and species such as demons could not exist, without heavy changes to the alignment system (and getting rid of it counts as a heavy change).

    Celestials are good.
    Humans are neutral (in the idea that they can be either good or evil)
    Goblins are (99%) evil.

    Anything else and you open up a legitimate argument to saying a paladin loses his levels for using smite evil (KILLING IS EVIL!)

    Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

    Tomppa wrote:

    Undead. My favorite subject.

    I haven't so far found out Pathfinder's policy about undead, but there's usually two different views regarding undead.
    Fact: Undead and negative energy are closely tied together.
    Question: Is negative energy (the animating force) - inheritently evil, or not? Because undead certainly are "mindless". If they are evil, they must get their evil incentives from somewhere, and the force that makes them move is the most likely answer.

    Case 1
    Assumption: Negative energy is inheritently evil.
    Consequence: Undead are inheritently evil.
    This is the usual "default" asumption. This means that even the mindless undead are driven to acts of cruelty and slaughter. Uncontrolled zombies and skeletons wander the land in search of victims. Creating something that enjoys destroying life is certainly evil.

    However, what if undead aren't evil?
    Case 2
    Assumption: Negative energy isn't evil
    Indirect consequence: Undead aren't necessarily "evil".
    This isn't as common, but let's stop for a moment. While we'll ponder that undead might not be totally evil, we can keep in mind that they are abominations to life, and their alignment could still be reflected as Evil, and thus keep the paladins happy if you really want to.
    Now, undead are most commonly encountered in crypts. What do they do there? Attack adventurers. Why? Because they are evil? Nope. They could just as well be simply guarding the crypt against intruders. If we believe that undead are not necessarily evil, then most likely effect is that when a necromancer looses control of undead, they don't go on a rampage - nope, they stop in their tracks.
    Undead, as unintelligent beings, are no different from golems, are they not? They are just bits and pieces of clay (golems) or bones (skeletons) animated by a force, and follow their creators commands. Technically, in this setting, undead should probably be neutral, as animals are.

    There are also other reasons why creating undead could be considered evil. Perhaps it prevents the soul from finding rest? Perhaps the energy needs to come from somewhere, and a kitten dies every time you raise a minion?

    In my games, Negative Energy isn't Evil, but Evil attracts Negative Energy. That's why undead usually spontaneously form from evil creatures or their victims, rather than from people who die peacefully---and why Evil clerics channel negative energy.

    If you want to animate a corpse, you need a way to get the Negative Energy to 'stick', and the easiest way to do that is by incorporating some kind of profane focus into the creature's body, like a piece of onyx you've enchanted through blasphemous rites (hence the Evil tag on the spell). The spell brings Negative Energy into the world, the profane focus you've embedded into your creation draws the Negative Energy in, and the corpse shudders to life.
    Of course, now it's got an unholy black stone for a heart, so it's rather Evil.

    If you were to use something else to affix the Negative Energy to the corpse, say a wendo spirit like Juju Oracles do, the resulting creature doesn't end up Evil.


    I might as well subject myself to the test

    My Definition of Evil - The desire for power at the cost or suffering of others
    =========================================================================
    Killing in general - In general I don't believe it's evil, it depends on why you're killing. Are you killing to protect, or are you killing to gain power?

    Killing an innocent - By innocent I'm referring to someone or something that is causing no harm to you or anything that you care for. Why are they being killed? This is usually evil because it's done to prove to someone their dominance. However, sometimes there are "casualties" and "collateral damage". I don't believe those are evil unless it was for reasons of gaining or demonstrating power or it could have knowingly been avoided. It still doesn't make it right, and those that do such should atone, but I don't believe that makes it evil either. Likewise killing innocent creatures to survive is not evil. On the other hand, killing them to show off your skill probably counts as evil in this sense.

    Torture - Again, is it to gain or prove dominance and power? If not it's usually to gain information. If the information is to gain dominance or power, then yes it's evil. If the information is extracted is used to save someone, it's not so evil. Then again information is power, so at some point it's slightly evil. This a situation of necessary evil.

    Selfishness - It's not evil. It's not even an action. It's a state of mind. It's good to be selfish sometimes. Though too much selfishness and not enough care about others is a quick path to evil.

    Stealing / Looting - Yes money is power but it's not evil if the person does not suffer. Though honestly the thief really has no right to judge whether or not the person being stolen from will suffer unless they're stealing from someone they know very well. If you're stealing evidence to incriminate a criminal, it's not for power, so it's justified.

    Poison - Poison is a tool. Saying it's evil makes as much sense as saying blades or claws are evil. I'll say no.

    Dishonesty - Dishonesty can be a nice thing sometimes. Sometimes it'll just cause hurt feelings. Dishonesty includes both lying and withholding the truth. Unless you're making someone suffer to gain some sort of power, there is nothing evil about it.

    Controlling Someone Else - Are you making them suffer? If you're taking control away from them you usually are, and you're usually exerting power over them. It's usually pretty evil unless they're just charmed, where in such a situation they aren't suffering.

    Slavery - Are your slaves suffering? If not it's not really evil, if they are it's most certainly evil. Being deprived of rights is usually suffering.

    Threats / Intimidation - No one is really suffering so I wouldn't write this off as evil.

    Worshiping an evil deity - Even if you aren't the one causing the suffering, you are giving power to a being that will for power in return. Evil.

    Undead - Depends on the fluff. If undead being infused with negative energy gives urges to obtain power through the suffering and destruction of others, that's pretty evil. Otherwise it depends on other factors.

    Demons / Devils - Gaining power / satisfaction through the suffering of others, this is generally what demons and devils do. If not, I don't know that they're evil.

    Summoning / Creating "evil" entities to work for you - Controlling them is probably not evil, however if you're aiding them unknowingly you're probably aiding evil. It's foolish, but I wouldn't write it off as evil unless you know for certain that every time you summon, more people suffer and there are other options that would suffice.

    There is evil and then there are terrible things. Some things can be terrible without really being evil. Some things are kind of evil, but may prevent terrible things.

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
    Demons / Devils - Gaining power / satisfaction through the suffering of others, this is generally what demons and devils do. If not, I don't know that they're evil.

    And this folks, is how daemons roll.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    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.


    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.

    Geeze man, can you go a post without telling other people what is wrong and what is right?

    And seriously a guy who goes around slaying dragons and other creatures in dungeons for treasures and fame is way more "evil" than a guy who's twisting another's person arm to find the location of a hostage.


    I have a few guidelines.

    1) Nobody can be condemned for choosing the lesser evil. When the ballot says Hitler vs Nixon and you vote Nixon that is not an act that can move your alignment towards evil even if Nixon is unquestionably evil because the alternative is worse. Choosing the greater evil on the other hand is still evil.

    1a) Nobody can be condemned for failing to act on knowledge they don't have unless their ignorance is their own fault.

    2) Alignment is not a suicide pact. Nobody should take alignment hits for preserving their own life except if their death is deserved. For the purpose of this rule dying when you run out of years to live under the aging rules is deserved.

    3) Good intentions don't justify evil ends except under point 1a.

    4) The means don't justify the ends. Nor do the means desecrate them. A man is as dead whether killed by sword or poison or a 100' drop when he wanders over the edge of a cliff after being hit by a Daylight spell. If the man is innocent the act is evil. If he's a tyrant or madman whose survival would endanger thousands the act is good. If the victim is not a man but a rat the act is neutral.

    5) Intelligence and Wisdom matter. The standards of due diligence are higher the smarter and wiser and more educated you are.

    6) Stupid can be worse than evil. It can be okay to support the greater evil over the lesser (or even a positive good) when the lesser evil is less competent. Voting Forest Gump over Nixon would be evil because he isn't qualified to lead a nation and during the cold war a lapse in leadership would have potentially catastrophic global consequences.

    7) You cannot treat with whom you cannot trust. Chaotic beings cannot surrender because surrender is a matter of contract and chaotic beings cannot be trusted to keep their word. Lawful beings, even Devils, are inherently trustworthy in matters where they have given their word. Even a chaotic Good person's surrender can be rejected without alignment repercussions because their parole is worthless if they believe it serves the greater good to break it.

    8) Expectations matter. If a goblin of the Roofgnawer tribe has tried to attack you with alchemist's fire under cover of surrendering you are justified in assuming that the Roofgnawers are chaotic and potentially suicidal fanatics and are not obliged to accept surrender from any Roofgnawer. The suicide bomber has poisoned your expectations and their deaths are his fault as his fanaticism has left you with no nonsuicidal choices. This does not apply to goblins of the Joistmuncher tribe unless you're genuinely unable to tell them apart. Race is morally irrelevant (except for outsiders) but culture is a legitimate source of expectations that can be used for moral judgment.

    Rule 2 may not apply to divine classes with codes of conduct in all situations, but the situations where it doesn't apply really shouldn't come up unless the GM legitimately needs to punish the player for eg. being really bad at playing paladins or druids.

    Edit: I suppose I didn't exactly answer the OP. All of this is subject to the restrictions above of course.

    Ragnarok Aeon, responses italicized wrote:


  • Killing in General neutral. Killing an innocent is evil. Killing a threat to innocents is good. Killing an animal is neutral (unless it's owned)
  • Killing an innocent being (Define innocent being please) innocent is, quite literally, not guilty. The definition is recursive and in cases like warfare it's possible for both sides to define themselves as innocent and the other side as guilty. If such a situation occurs it falls under a mix of rules 1, 2, and 8 and nobody on either side loses alignment merely for engaging in a mutually justified war.
  • Torture torture is a means to an end. See rule 4
  • Selfishness generally evil in a small way. It can prevent you from being good, but no amount of it can make you evil without other acts, but see rule 2.
  • Stealing / Looting evil, but see rule 2 for theft. Looting as interpreted in RPGs is just picking up after the dead. It may exacerbate the evil of the killing if the purpose of killing is looting, but otherwise it's neutral.
  • Poison Rule 4
  • Dishonesty Evil, but see Rules 1 and 2[i]
  • Controlling Someone Else (ie. authority or geas) [i]Like killing, but from a practical standpoint the very possibility of such control is a threat to the very fabric of society and any means up to and including genocide would be justifiable to eradicate the knowledge to cast such spells
  • Slavery evil. When imposed by a legitimate authority as punishment for a crime of which the slave has been convicted it might be a lesser evil. Whether it is better to enslave prisoners or tax the innocent to fund their incarceration is an open question.
  • Threats / Intimidation as with killing it depends whom you're intimidating.
  • Worshiping an evil deity giving willing allegiance to evil is evil. Rule 2 doesn't even apply here.
  • Undead depends way too much on the cosmology for anyone but the person writing the setting to answer
  • Demons / Devils Evil. Also Daemons. As a side rant, why couldn't Paizo come up with a term for neutral evil outsiders that differed from the term for chaotic evil outsiders by more than one letter?
  • Summoning / Creating "evil" entities to work for you [i]pretty much evil. Creating evil entities is certainly evil. Summoning them is giving them at least limited agency in the sidereal world. The risk that your control could slip probably makes summoning evil under rule 8.
  • RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

    Because the default game has a Cartesian coordinate system of alignments, it behooves a GM to figure out what the cardinal directions on the alignment grid mean. What does it mean to move in the axis direction of good, evil, law, or chaos? If you're going to make up a pathfinder/D&D universe, its good to answer these questions.

    Myself, I don't like the alignment system, but so much of the game is based on it (Paladins, Monks, detect evil/good/law/chaos, protection from evil/good/law/chaos, align weapon, DR, etc.), I have not been able to throw it out. Believe me, I have tried.

    Evil, in my campaign, is selfishness-- a lack of love and empathy for other sentient beings. The more selfish you are, the more evil you are.

    Undead tend to lack any kind of empathy for the living, and being innately selfish end up being evil-- but obviously there are exceptions to that rule.

    Whether torture, killing, slavery, etc. are evil depends on the selfishness of the action.

    Also note that I distinguish between cosmic alignment, and psychological alignment. Cosmic alignment concerns the nature of reality, where psychological/cultural alignment concerns itself with individual's motivations and actions. Some things are cosmically aligned, though in my campaign cosmic alignment is usually a question of law vs. chaos, rather than good vs. evil (in my campaign, Lucifer concerns itself with good vs. evil on a cosmic scale, but I have no other real themes going in that regard).


    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.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Ragnarok Aeon 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.

    Geeze man, can you go a post without telling other people what is wrong and what is right?

    And seriously a guy who goes around slaying dragons and other creatures in dungeons for treasures and fame is way more "evil" than a guy who's twisting another's person arm to find the location of a hostage.

    Oh, excuse me. I thought this was a thread about defining evil.

    Which is by definition going to involve that wrong/right dichotomy.

    You have been attempting to get torture taken off the evil list since the "are my players evil" thread, by way of the ends justify the means argument.

    Particularly in a world where evil exists as a discrete, concrete thing, this won't wash: evil is as evil does, and torture is evil. It DOESN'T MATTER why someone is engaging in torture: the act is an evil one.

    Is it excusable? Maybe. But it's always gonna be an evil deed.


    Alitan wrote:
    Oh, excuse me. I thought this was a thread about defining evil.

    Hey, Alitan, I'm Andy, and I've fav'd several off your posts in this thread.

    Ragnarok Aeon,

    Hey, I'm Andy, and I'm pretty much double-plus sick of broad-, open-ended questions about alignment in regards to role-playing games.

    Most systems that use them describe them in terms readily-understood ...

    The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document wrote:
    • Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.
    • 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.

    ... so the broad mechanics are there for folks just "playing the game."

    I don't mind typing and talking with folks about ethics (in fact I enjoy it), but in terms of role-playing games I'm pretty much done.

    I was tempted to to respond to your Original Post, (and still am! And I love how "tempted" was the first word that came to my mind as I typed this!), but I simply can't.

    • I don't "advocate a vision of alignment." I'm not even sure what that means.
    • I think the entire premise of your OP is flawed in that you're issuing challenge for folks to "Define Evil," but you qualify this challenge with the condition "Do not call another poster "wrong" as that is subjective"

    To use the term "Evil" in any context outside a rules system (or moral framework, take your pick) is relative and subjective.

    To issue a call to discuss evil in any context and predicate that call by asking folks not to call others wrong ... that's "Not only is it not right, it's not even wrong!"

    My regards,

    -- Andy


    Andrew Tuttle wrote:
  • I think the entire premise of your OP is flawed in that you're issuing challenge for folks to "Define Evil," but you qualify this challenge with the condition "Do not call another poster "wrong" as that is subjective"[/list]

    To use the term "Evil" in any context outside a rules system (or moral framework, take your pick) is relative and subjective.

    To issue a call to discuss evil in any context and predicate that call by asking folks not to call others wrong ... that's "Not only is it not right, it's not even wrong!"

  • In Game alignment is pretty much objective because the GM decides what is good and evil. The GM is the judge. The whole point was to define evil in one's own game and to test if it was internally consistent or if they were redefining evil for each and every thing that consider evil. Even if you don't agree with it, you may be able to accept that you're seen as evil to people or forces that don't agree with you.

    Out of Game we each have our own views of what is evil and what isn't. To agree, disagree, expand, and challenge is fine. They can be constructive. However just flat out telling someone that they're wrong lacks any construction and is just an attempt to inflate one's ego on how they're "better" than the people who don't agree with them. Or at least that's how I see it.

    I can see how many can see torture as evil regardless of reason, goal, or method. However my question was if the standards that they're using to mark torture as evil are used elsewhere on something they mark as not evil, then what is the difference? Is it internally consistent?


    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:

    I'm going to issue a simple challenge:

  • Define Evil
  • Nancy Grace.


    Ringtail wrote:
    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:

    I'm going to issue a simple challenge:

  • Define Evil
  • Nancy Grace.

    I will take your Nancy Grace and raise you "THE ACLU"


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Lobolusk wrote:
    Ringtail wrote:
    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:

    I'm going to issue a simple challenge:

  • Define Evil
  • Nancy Grace.
    I will take your Nancy Grace and raise you "THE ACLU"

    All in...with BET and No Child Left Behind.

    Silver Crusade

    Atarlost wrote:

    I have a few guidelines.

    <Lots of good stuff-- cut for space except for a few points I have comments/caveats for, and one point of disagreement>

    2) Alignment is not a suicide pact. Nobody should take alignment hits for preserving their own life except if their death is deserved. For the purpose of this rule dying when you run out of years to live under the aging rules is deserved.

    3) Good intentions don't justify evil ends except under point 1a.

    4) The means don't justify the ends. Nor do the means desecrate them. A man is as dead whether killed by sword or poison or a 100' drop when he wanders over the edge of a cliff after being hit by a Daylight spell. If the man is innocent the act is evil. If he's a tyrant or madman whose survival would endanger thousands the act is good. If the victim is not a man but a rat the act is neutral.

    7) You cannot treat with whom you cannot trust. Chaotic beings cannot surrender because surrender is a matter of contract and chaotic beings cannot be trusted to keep their word. Lawful beings, even Devils, are inherently trustworthy in matters where they have given their word. Even a chaotic Good person's surrender can be rejected without alignment repercussions because their parole is worthless if they believe it serves the greater good to break it.

    8) Expectations matter. If a goblin of the Roofgnawer tribe has tried to attack you with alchemist's fire under cover of surrendering you are justified in assuming that the Roofgnawers are chaotic and potentially suicidal fanatics and are not obliged to accept surrender from any Roofgnawer. The suicide bomber has poisoned your expectations and their deaths are his fault as his fanaticism has left you with no nonsuicidal choices. This does not apply to goblins of the Joistmuncher tribe unless you're genuinely unable to tell them apart. Race is morally irrelevant (except for outsiders) but culture is a legitimate source of expectations that can be used for moral judgment.

    Atarlost--

    Excellent post. I mostly agree with what you've said here. I have a few caveats and a point of disagreement-- but other than as stated below, I'm in agreement (with this post).

    On Point 2: While I don't think anyone should ordinarily get an alignment hit for self-preservation-- if you're in a situation where you can save your own life-- or you can save the lives of tens, hundreds, thousands of innocents through your actions but it will cost your life in the process... maybe we don't call you evil for saving your own neck, but it sure as hell ain't good in that case.

    On Point 3: Even under point 1A, I don't think "good intentions" ever really justify an evil end-- but I do agree that one cannot blame (and in game terms, cannot hang alignment penalties) on characters acting in full good faith, for consequences which they could not have foreseen with the knowledge they had. Willful ignorance is still not a valid excuse, however.

    On Point 4: I agree. I'd just add that the ends do not necessarily justify the means, either-- especially when one adds in all the potentially bad consequences of using thoroughly evil means (and actions) to achieve a good end-- however, rule 1 does mean that the "ends" can justify using "lesser evils" as the means to prevent a greater evil from occurring, and consider the whole (means and ends) to be a positive/good act.

    On point 7: this is the one issue where I almost entirely disagree. I do not think there is any reasonable excuse for rejecting surrenders just because you know what someone's artificial "alignment label" says. The opening sentence is one I agree with, that "you cannot treat with whom you cannot trust"-- but I do not think you can draw conclusions about what possibilities of trust there are from knowing what alignment the GM has decided these creatures are. If it were me writing this-- I'd take that opening statement out and add it to rule 8, and delete the current rule 7 entirely.

    On Point 8: Yes, I agree with this. And, I feel that "You cannot treat with whom you cannot trust" belongs here-- it's part of "expectations matter" IMO, not a prejudice you act on through metagaming alignment knowledge.

    Also, to all-- some general points I consider on alignment:

    Context, motivation, and understanding of the situation are very very important to understanding whether a given course of action is good or evil. The world is painted in many shades of morality and ethical understanding, not in binary 'either/or' absolutes. At the same time, I do not believe that morality and ethics are entirely relative or up to one's culture (put another way-- IMO, "when in Rome do as the Romans do" style understandings of moral action only gets you so far-- there are some things, like cold-blooded murder, that are still wrong).

    Most things, IMO, cannot be painted in absolutes-- a good example (as far as I'm concerned) is that killing is usually evil... but killing others can be a neutral or genuinely good act in context-- self-defense, defense of others-- and extensions of those principles beyond immediate self-defense in the heat of the moment, to what soldiers must often do in war (can be at least neutral, if not good, depending on what you're ultimately fighting for-- and how you conduct yourself in the process). For that matter-- even the best and purest of us, nearly always have their moral flaws and failings, and don't always do good. In game-- even the best (excepting perhaps Paladins and Saints) will occasionally commit acts that are nominally evil-- but that does not make them evil... one has to look at the whole person and everything he or she does, the aggregate sum of his/her motivations, intentions, and actions in order to get some idea of what "alignment" (i.e. is this a good or evil person) the character is. Although yes, the "degree of evil or good" in each act/intention/motivation matters-- not just the total number of things one can label into each category.

    On torture-- nearly always evil. Some acts are very hard to find any excuse that makes them justifiable or acceptable. However, even if utterly unjustifiable, torturing once in a while but otherwise being a strong champion of good, isn't going to make a character evil... although as someone else has noted, it may become the start of a long slippery slope down to becoming evil. Cold-blooded unnecessary killing-- yeah, that's an evil act. Period.

    Most things-- not so sure I want to bother with an 'either/or' list, there are too many possible variables.

    Dark Archive

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    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

    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".

  • Evil is defined by the victors of whatever War!


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Lobolusk wrote:

    oh hells yeah! now we debate wether torture is evil or not! does somebody want to compare the OP to hitler just to get it out of the way.

    ***Grabs a snack cake....he means so well...he will learn.***

    Sure, I can do that.

    The OP has ten fingers, just like Hitler!!!

    Seriously, though, unless you're playing d20 modern modern views of torture aren't appropriate to the setting.

    I also note that everybody talks about torture for information, but that's not the only purpose. There's also torture as a deterrent.

    If you were going to be executed tomorrow would you rather it be long drop hanging or would you rather be hung, drawn, and quartered? Which do you think is going to be more effective at convincing potential criminals that committing capital crimes is not a capital idea?

    Is convincing potential criminals to not commit crimes good? I think it is. Now, treason for which hanging, drawing, and quartering was the traditional punishment, isn't always evil -- I rather approve of Oliver Cromwell for instance -- but I'm sure we can all think of crimes that are worse than murder. If nothing else then two murders are worse than one but we can only execute someone once. If a criminal has committed one capital crime the only deterrent remaining besides increased chance of discovery is the possibility of a fate worse than death.

    Some years back there was a girl kidnapped and raped in California. She was found dead, but forensics determined she was killed after the investigation started, that she was probably still alive when the police first questioned the person eventually convicted of the crime. The kidnapper was already going to face the death penalty for kidnapping and raping a child so adding murder to his list of crimes didn't make his potential fate worse. Had he confessed instead of killing her he would have faced life in the California prison system. Given the reputation of American prisons for not being able to control interaction between inmates the lesser sentence of life without parole could be considered a worse fate than execution, particularly for someone accused of a crime that would make other inmates look down on him. The inability of the state to impose any criminal sanction greater than the death penalty may have killed a little girl. Also the state's inability to protect convicted criminals from other convicted criminals, but doing so would probably require the universal application of forms of restraint that would also be considered torture.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Convincing potential criminals not to commit crimes is lawful -- not necessarily good, as the laws in place may or may not be on the good side of the axis.

    The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document wrote:
    Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.
    Evil implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others.

    The above seems like a relatively firm statement that torture=evil. Without any modern referent.


    Atarlost wrote:
    Lobolusk wrote:

    oh hells yeah! now we debate wether torture is evil or not! does somebody want to compare the OP to hitler just to get it out of the way.

    ***Grabs a snack cake....he means so well...he will learn.***

    Sure, I can do that.

    The OP has ten fingers, just like Hitler!!!

    Don't forget that I also have two eyes, a nose, and breath. Also I made art in my adolescence but didn't get into art school. OH MY GOD! I must be a hitler clone! Nuuuu...

    (y'n')y


    Torturing someone to save a little girl's life is Lawful Evil.
    Saving lives is for profit.

    Also damn those evil adventurers hurting, oppressing, and killing our goblin hordes. Why are they doing this? Profit I tell you!


    here we go again. this subject must be a level twenty monk of the four winds, as it simply cannot die!

    while i generally judge on a case by case basis, my usual guideline for whether a behavior is evil is something along the lines of:
    Taking choice away (Y)/(N)
    that choice can be 'i don't want to work here'(slavery) 'i don't want to die' (killing) 'i don't want to live in a comunist/puppet-democratic/democratic/monarchist/dictated/other society'(war and occupation). it's a reasonable guideline for pathfinder, and an excellent guideline in the real world, but that's all it is: a guideline.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
    However just flat out telling someone that they're wrong lacks any construction and is just an attempt to inflate one's ego on how they're "better" than the people who don't agree with them. Or at least that's how I see it.

    Cool. Well, we all see things from our own unique perspective.

    When I see someone I care about making what I consider a mistake, I'll call them on it.

    I'll even say "Hey, you are wrong," or bat their hand away from the fire they are trying to touch.

    No harm, no foul.

    -- Andy

    Silver Crusade

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    FuelDrop wrote:

    here we go again. this subject must be a level twenty monk of the four winds, as it simply cannot die!

    This subject is Arazni.... once she was good, then she got massacred, stomped into the dirt by the Whispering Tyrant, killed (I don't know how many times over), then infused with negative energy and raised as the Undead Lich-Queen.... and she still won't go away! :P

    (either that or it's Aroden-- "He didn't die, he just got sucked into a thread discussing the nature of good and evil, and now he can't get back out of it to answer his worshipers!")


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    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?

  • 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
  • In my games, I differentiate cosmic evil from moral evil. Casting Animate Dead to animate a farmer's plow horse and thus enable the farmstead to grow crops and live through the winter ... that's using cosmic evil (casting an [evil] spell) for a morally good act. A Lawful Neutral summoner conjuring up an Archon to kill peaceful and virtuous non-combatants for a mission is using cosmic good (casting a Lawful Good spell) to perform a morally evil act.

    The Holy Rollers
    Cosmic evil is something which the "holy rollers" (Good divine casters) are barred from doing. If they do so by hook or crook, it might be overlooked if they're, say, using a wand of Deathwatch ([evil]) to help reveal some infiltrating undead, or help heal party members more efficiently in combat against demons. Cosmic evil for the sake of good hits you with a bit of a taint, but it's nothing a few anointments with holy water can't fix. But if it's only being done out of convenience ... well now we're getting into laziness. Unless you happen to be worshiping a Deific Sloth, you might be asking for a slap on the wrist from your cosmic boss. Plus there's the other thing (see "regular folk")

    Moral evil... now that's a no-no. In fact, my games assume that Atonement (you know, that spell nobody else uses) exists for a reason, and the text therein helps spell out that PF is a consequentialist world. That is to say, intent means jack, only action matters. So you can think evil thoughts all you want, but if in your (failed) attempt to burn down an orphanage you accidentally end up saving the day with a Disney flair (cue the rainbows and unicorns), then you did a moral good. Similarly, if the Paladin is drugged and manipulated by an illusionist into slaughtering a retirement home under false pretenses of "cleansing demons", he's tainted, bad, and can't do his fancy shmancy stuff no more. Much like the Rabbi who is fooled into eating a porkchop, he can't simply raise his hands to the sky, cry "mulligan" and still wield holy power. His soul is corrupted by even the accidental or forced/manipulated blasphemy, and he must atone for the sin and be cleansed. So, those religious types? Yeah, they had better be glad that they all have good will saves, because it prevents them from falling from grace via enchantments and illusions and other, mundane manipulations. This is also why holy people do best when not alone, so their buddies can interrupt these little moral tangents... such is the price for wielding holy power and being guaranteed a quality afterlife.

    Subtypes
    Anything with an alignment subtype is simply wired a certain way. Demons are simply incapable of good intentions, and can only perform good acts by accident (or being forced). Their brains and instincts are so hard-wired that they are rather alien to us free-willed mortals. It's the same with angels and such. So unless you force a helm of opposite alignment on them, you won't be able to get that Lawful Good succubus concubine you always wanted. There are corner cases, and maybe plot fiat, but in general it's just not happening.

    Regular Folk
    Repeated and imbalanced use of cosmic evil can eventually start ... changing you. Not physically, like Gollum, but the taint of cosmic evil is influential. Your random thoughts get a little more sinister, your fuse shortens, temperament gets a little worse, you get a bit more satisfaction from winning, and a little less from helping people. But by bit, you become a selfish, greedy, intolerant and violent prick. Effectively, you slowly turn morally evil to match your cosmic taint.

    In-game, a GM would have to collaborate with the player somewhat, and it can make for an awesome narrative - the hero struggles against the darkness within his own soul. Classic stuff, immersive RP.


    FuelDrop wrote:
    here we go again. this subject must be a level twenty monk of the four winds, as it simply cannot die!

    It could be a level 5 reincarnated druid.


    Allegiances determine the perceptions of the good.


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    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:

    This thread was in response to "Torture is evil". If alignment is supposed to be an objective force, then it should be able to be defined. There are so many articles but they don't really talk about how evil is viewed in any particular game. The most defined I've seen is "Evil is selfishness". Which is fine as a definition. All I want to know is what people are defining as evil in their games and if all the things they espouse as evil fall into their definition of evil. In real life, many people will define evil as "all that is in opposition of God" which is valid.

    Nobody needs to make a vote, this doesn't need to be imposed, this is merely to try and understand how people see "evil" in their game. Unity is not tolerance nor is it understanding. I don't care about consensus, I just want to understand.

    Ah, the old view that torture is always evil and indefensible for good characters. CG can usually get away with a bit of it. It comes from being force fed the idea that human rights should always be respected, and if you don't you are a Nazi. Step out of this guys and jump to a different world, then, after a few breaths of freedom from our present intellectual climate, have fun.

    Capture the high cultured evil foe, villain, underling, whatever, chain them up in a room. The whole party (except the bard) head in. Now keep making deliberate fail perform checks, amateur theatre, botched lines, Nicholas Cage emotional level acting. Keep at it and wait. He'll crack. They always crack.

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