Paladin hate.


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Shadow Lodge

Talking to/eliciting information/stalling to let your rogue get into stabbing position =/= making deal with devil


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Orthos wrote:
Talking to/eliciting information/stalling to let your rogue get into stabbing position =/= making deal with devil

Sneaking a rogue into stabbing position during a parley? That doesn't sound like "acting with honor" to me.

And devils' words are worthless because their devils. Everything they say is designed to deceive and corrupt. They're devils. It's what they are.

Also did I mention they're devils.


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Roberta Yang wrote:
Oh, good, a parley. Maybe we can negotiate and work out some terms of understanding and agreement? As a champion of good there's nothing I'd love to do more than literally making a deal with a devil.

Yay! Someone who understands!

Demons/devils hate good things. Paladins are servants of the good things. It is not a mutually agreeable relationship. Someone in that conversation is going to die. And since demons and devils are listed as "always X Evil" in the books, and you're probably encountering it in a cultist lair or fiendish fortress...it is a good idea to kill it.

Demons are not orcs. Orcs have the potential to be good, and are not inherently disposed toward any alignment. They are neutral at birth, and become evil and chaotic as they age, victims of their environment.

Demons, evil dragons, etc. are BORN evil according to the fluff. When demons rise from the protoplasm, as re-created souls of foul murderers and rapists...they are evil. They define evil. They epitomize evil. The chance in a million that one might, might be good is so slim that it would be downright miraculous.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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Aside,

Because of my own playing style, this is why I love Inquisitors. Maybe not as lethal as Paladins, but with the skill points to do their job well.

Silver Crusade

Roberta Yang wrote:
Oh, good, a parley. Maybe we can negotiate and work out some terms of understanding and agreement? As a champion of good there's nothing I'd love to do more than literally making a deal with a devil.

There is a lot more to being good than being evil, especially when it comes to playing a Paladin. No where does it say Paladins show no mercy to outsiders and undead. You don't have to be lawful stupid to deal with these types of creatures. Your problem is you seem them as a whole instead of an individual case.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A devil's words mean exactly what they say: they are evil, yes, but they are Lawful, too. However, a paladin is duty-bound to expect the other party to honour both the letter and spirit of any agreement. Should a devil trick him with honeyed words, our paladin is more than within his rights to Smite. And any devil that doesn't think that's true when dealing with a paladin is a fool.

Shadow Lodge

Roberta Yang wrote:
Orthos wrote:
Talking to/eliciting information/stalling to let your rogue get into stabbing position =/= making deal with devil
Sneaking a rogue into stabbing position during a parley? That doesn't sound like "acting with honor" to me.

So long as no stabbing actually happens while the parley is in effect, I don't see a problem with it. Paladins are honorable, but they're not stupid and they don't have to be averse to tactics. He won't attack during the parley and if his friend does he'll severely disapprove (perhaps as far as to cease traveling with the Rogue). But both the Paladin and the Fiend know that as soon as this discussion ends there's going to be blood shed, so the PCs might as well get their advantages in place while they try to discern if there's anything useful in that doublespeak the fiend is spitting, then once that game is done and the truce flag drops the stabby friend can go to town. Hell, I allow Paladin/Rogues to sneak attack, myself.

Also I've stopped trying to discern when your sarcasm is in off or on mode.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
Specifically for Pathfinder, risen fiends are explicitly stated to exist. In a setting where angels can fall, if Good is actually potent at doing Good then it's certainly possible for rare fiends to rise.

Of course it IS however far harder for an infernal to rise than it is for a Celestial to fall. The banner of Good takes that much more effort to uphold than that of Evil. The ratio of risen infernals to fallen celestials should be at most maybe 1 to 10,0000, I'd ping it more like 1 to one million.


shallowsoul wrote:
There is a lot more to being good than being evil, especially when it comes to playing a Paladin. No where does it say Paladins show no mercy to outsiders and undead. You don't have to be lawful stupid to deal with these types of creatures. Your problem is you seem them as a whole instead of an individual case.

Certainly, I don't have to attack demons and undead on sight (barring certain oaths). There are plenty of valid tactical reasons I might not attack: it might draw too much attention, it might be an obvious losing battle, etc.

But there's no reason I have to not attack on sight either. It's not wrong to smite demons. "Devils are evil" isn't just a stereotype.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm almost getting tired of reiterating exactly the same point, but here we go again:

Nobody is saying that a paladin should not opt to smite A Random Fiend.

However:

If the plot has revealed a piece of knowledge that the fiend may not be bad.
If the fiend tries to deal with the paladin in good faith.
If the paladin has any other Good and Lawful reason for not smiting...

Then smiting the fiend in question may not be the right choice in the first instance.

If later events change the paladin's mind, then he can smite his heart's content, but if the GM has gone out of his way to present a situation whereby the paladin could decide that smiting is not his best first move, then he shouldn't.


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No no if this is just about superbad things like devils then Roberta is right, it's just that when Roberta says things she sometimes does it in ways that make some forumers want her not to be right at all, so the threads just take longer than they should.

Shadow Lodge

Up is down, left is right, white is black, and we're all going to die in the next zebra crossing.


Chemlak, shallowsoul, so many ifs. "If" this and "If" that.

When you start going into minute details and specific scenarios in an attempt to prove a point, it becomes a bit over the top. One case does not define every case.

For instance, we have read that LG demons can exist, and we have seen examples of a few. However, as per the Bestiary, demons and devils are "always" evil and are designed as being perfect examples of evil. They are essentially evil incarnate. So the chances of a LG demon/devil is extremely rare as LazarX pointed out.

If it is a case where a plot reveals the knowledge that the fiend is good, and if the fiend is dealing in good faith with no other motive, and if the paladin has any other good/lawful reason for not smiting, then of course the right thing to do is to discuss and not smite. The number of ifs leading to that make it an implausible and extraordinarily rare scenario. As such, it is hard to give weight to it. No one is saying that a Pally should always smite first and ask questions later, but in the case of fiends in particular, he should be guaranteed that the foe is evil.

LazarX brings up another good point. Religions are full of examples of fallen angels/good entities, but rarely does it have evil becoming good. The road of righteousness and justice is hard to tread, so perhaps the path of the Paladin is designed to be hard. Paladins are not a class for every campaign, but neither are barbarians, bards, clerics, druids, monks, or arcanists.

In the end though, some people are just going to hate paladins no matter what. Whether because they enjoy playing evil characters, or because they can't roleplay a Paladin, or because they played with someone who couldn't roleplay a Paladin well. Discussing this probably will change nothing. Peoples minds change rarely.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sorry, it seems I wasn't clear: that wasn't a list to check off all of them. In my opinion, any one of those 'ifs' I presented should be enough to give a paladin pause.

Abso-flippin-lutely, the paladin should be free to pound on A Random Fiend. I have not tried to suggest otherwise. Meet a demon or a devil? SMITE! Any paladin in one of my games would have my blessing. But if I've carefully crafted a plot line whereby the paladin knows in advance, or even learns during the fight, that the default Slay Evil option could be the bad, evil, dishonourable or chaotic choice, I would expect a player who is serious about playing a paladin as a paragon of order, good, and honour to stop and ask himself whether slaying this fiend right now is what he wants to do.

If he continues, and I won't step in to stop him (I'll certainly remind him of what his character knows, though, and am more than happy to indicate that his chosen course of action might be wrong), there is a chance that he is making the "wrong" decision, and could fall. That chance depends on the plot, but it all boils down to what the paladin's decision was, and whether he consciously decided to ignore things he knew, just to slay a fiend.


I apologize for jumping to conclusions Chemlak. But yes, Paladins should not be crazed murder hobos, and should always be open to the possibility of peaceful negotiation, particularly since Paladins are good aligned.

I think part of this whole issue comes from people playing Paladins like fighters with buffs, or DMs being overly antagonistic toward the class.

What confuses me is why the paladin takes the brunt of the issue, when his values are in line with most quest lines and plot hooks. The druid arguably has as many restrictions. As does the cleric.


shallowsoul wrote:


There is a lot more to being good than being evil, especially when it comes to playing a Paladin. No where does it say Paladins show no mercy to outsiders and undead. You don't have to be lawful stupid to deal with these types of creatures. Your problem is you seem them as a whole instead of an individual case.

It did in 3.5 PHB (not the SRD as this is copywritten text I guess), It says "Alhandra a Paladin shows evil no mercy". No Mercy. As demons and devils are evil incarnatre, they must be showed No Mercy.

Now this is Pathfinder not 3.5 D&D, but the point stands.

Shadow Lodge

Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


There is a lot more to being good than being evil, especially when it comes to playing a Paladin. No where does it say Paladins show no mercy to outsiders and undead. You don't have to be lawful stupid to deal with these types of creatures. Your problem is you seem them as a whole instead of an individual case.

It did in 3.5 PHB (not the SRD as this is copywritten text I guess), It says "Alhandra a Paladin shows evil no mercy". No Mercy. As demons and devils are evil incarnatre, they must be showed No Mercy.

Now this is Pathfinder not 3.5 D&D, but the point stands.

I wouldn't say that's universal, personally - it very much comes down to the individual Paladin's personality, patron deity, etc. If I'm playing a paladin of a deity of Mercy, or one focused on Redemption, or things of that nature, then absolutely show mercy. If I'm playing a Crusader-type paladin, or a justicar seeking rightful retribution for crimes committed, then the No Mercy route takes a little more precedence.

It's not a one-answer-fits-all deal, I'd say.


I'll tell you one good thing about "negotiating" with a Succubus.

I can drink some whiskey, pretend I'm drunk, and annoy the piss out of her until she wastes her one shot at Dominate Person on the guy with the Uber Will save and then attack her with Stunning Fist while she's still blubbering over why it didn't work.

Poor b&!!& never had a chance, she died before the stun wore off.

There you go. A tactically sound reason (surprise attack for an advantage) why you shouldn't always attack on sight when the monster is willing to talk for a minute.


Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


There is a lot more to being good than being evil, especially when it comes to playing a Paladin. No where does it say Paladins show no mercy to outsiders and undead. You don't have to be lawful stupid to deal with these types of creatures. Your problem is you seem them as a whole instead of an individual case.

It did in 3.5 PHB (not the SRD as this is copywritten text I guess), It says "Alhandra a Paladin shows evil no mercy". No Mercy. As demons and devils are evil incarnatre, they must be showed No Mercy.

Now this is Pathfinder not 3.5 D&D, but the point stands.

3.5 also had the dilemma of a Paladin busting in on two evil outsiders fornicating, and deciding whether to smite evil or 'honor love.'


Delthyn wrote:

I apologize for jumping to conclusions Chemlak. But yes, Paladins should not be crazed murder hobos, and should always be open to the possibility of peaceful negotiation, particularly since Paladins are good aligned.

I think part of this whole issue comes from people playing Paladins like fighters with buffs, or DMs being overly antagonistic toward the class.

What confuses me is why the paladin takes the brunt of the issue, when his values are in line with most quest lines and plot hooks. The druid arguably has as many restrictions. As does the cleric.

Cleric has to "grossly" violate her code of conduct. "revering nature" is really vague and doesn't come up much in campaigns.

Both are much less strict than the paladin version where specific acts are listed and any violation of them results in instant power loss.


igotsmeakabob11 wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


There is a lot more to being good than being evil, especially when it comes to playing a Paladin. No where does it say Paladins show no mercy to outsiders and undead. You don't have to be lawful stupid to deal with these types of creatures. Your problem is you seem them as a whole instead of an individual case.

It did in 3.5 PHB (not the SRD as this is copywritten text I guess), It says "Alhandra a Paladin shows evil no mercy". No Mercy. As demons and devils are evil incarnatre, they must be showed No Mercy.

Now this is Pathfinder not 3.5 D&D, but the point stands.

3.5 also had the dilemma of a Paladin busting in on two evil outsiders fornicating, and deciding whether to smite evil or 'honor love.'

I think that is referencing an Exalted Paladin not a normal Paladin. Exalted is harder than Paladin code. Way harder.


I would just like to add another point of view.

I can actually deal with almost any interpretation of the holy warrior vows. History is filled with examples of people that considered themselves the epitome of 'good' while rationalizing an amazing diversity of actions. (I will admit I have a hard time with the "I sold the city into slavery because it was good for the most people in the long run." But I can handle it with only minor eye rolling.)

What I have a real problem with is the constant arguments over what a paladin must/could/could not/must not do in any given situation. It seems like anytime there is a paladin in the group every other session grinds to a halt with everyone arguing. Sometimes it is neither the paladin player nor the GM, it is everyone else.

I take part in this pass time as a way to relax and have fun. Listening to people argue is not relaxing or fun. I've just gotten so tired of the bickering that I will probably ban it from the next campaign that I GM.


Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


There is a lot more to being good than being evil, especially when it comes to playing a Paladin. No where does it say Paladins show no mercy to outsiders and undead. You don't have to be lawful stupid to deal with these types of creatures. Your problem is you seem them as a whole instead of an individual case.

It did in 3.5 PHB (not the SRD as this is copywritten text I guess), It says "Alhandra a Paladin shows evil no mercy". No Mercy. As demons and devils are evil incarnatre, they must be showed No Mercy.

Now this is Pathfinder not 3.5 D&D, but the point stands.

Of course 3.5E is also quite famous for having a setting that RAW would make you want to bash your head up against the wall if you really were that obsessive about lawful good because one of the major lawful good organizations commits textbook mass genocide.


MadScientistWorking wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


There is a lot more to being good than being evil, especially when it comes to playing a Paladin. No where does it say Paladins show no mercy to outsiders and undead. You don't have to be lawful stupid to deal with these types of creatures. Your problem is you seem them as a whole instead of an individual case.

It did in 3.5 PHB (not the SRD as this is copywritten text I guess), It says "Alhandra a Paladin shows evil no mercy". No Mercy. As demons and devils are evil incarnatre, they must be showed No Mercy.

Now this is Pathfinder not 3.5 D&D, but the point stands.

Of course 3.5E is also quite famous for having a setting that RAW would make you want to bash your head up against the wall if you really were that obsessive about lawful good because one of the major lawful good organizations commits mass genocide.

Don't forget Lumi a race of LN outsiders that treat any acts without honor in Paladin code as needing death if violated (their law: no lying, no stealing, etc). Yes, it isn't evil to kill for breaking these laws for them. They wish to someday invade the material plane to punish all the "lawbreakers."


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so boiling down 64 new posts. to: "exceptions exist" and "if a paladin makes a MISTAKE, and kills one of the exceptions, then this is a reason to fall, because there was a mistake made"

What part of WILLINGLY committing an evil act isn't understood here?


Pendagast wrote:

so boiling down 64 new posts. to: "exceptions exist" and "if a paladin makes a MISTAKE, and kills one of the exceptions, then this is a reason to fall, because there was a mistake made"

What part of WILLINGLY committing an evil act isn't understood here?

Honestly most of those 64 new posts appear to be related to the fact that the binary black and white nature of D&D and the Paladin in particular are kind of stupid.


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Pendagast wrote:

so boiling down 64 new posts. to: "exceptions exist" and "if a paladin makes a MISTAKE, and kills one of the exceptions, then this is a reason to fall, because there was a mistake made"

What part of WILLINGLY committing an evil act isn't understood here?

Pretty sure I, at least, made it clear that if the Paladin runs headlong into one of these exceptions without thinking he should be warned or get a slap on the wrist, not punished severely or subject to falling.

Silver Crusade

I never mentioned falling either. All I was talking about is situations aren't always so black and white.


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MadScientistWorking wrote:
Pendagast wrote:

so boiling down 64 new posts. to: "exceptions exist" and "if a paladin makes a MISTAKE, and kills one of the exceptions, then this is a reason to fall, because there was a mistake made"

What part of WILLINGLY committing an evil act isn't understood here?

Honestly most of those 64 new posts appear to be related to the fact that the binary black and white nature of D&D and the Paladin in particular are kind of stupid.

Binary black and white? Since when, D&D and Pathfinder have nine alignments, and they're generally guidelines, not strict rules.


Rynjin wrote:
Pendagast wrote:

so boiling down 64 new posts. to: "exceptions exist" and "if a paladin makes a MISTAKE, and kills one of the exceptions, then this is a reason to fall, because there was a mistake made"

What part of WILLINGLY committing an evil act isn't understood here?

Pretty sure I, at least, made it clear that if the Paladin runs headlong into one of these exceptions without thinking he should be warned or get a slap on the wrist, not punished severely or subject to falling.

Ok so, how would you warn him... BEFORE or after?

I favor some kind of "off feeling" with his detect evil , like a disturbance in the force or spidey sense, and/or maybe have him make a free sense motive check and if he still acts in a bloodthirsty manner he was 'subtly' warned to look further into it, when he later finds out the truth of it, somehow, he could be wracked by guilt and repent, OR to heck with it, I was only gathering up paladin levels for a really decent anti paladin anyway! players choice.


I'd probably tell him before hand, but obviously that's not what the OP did.

If I somehow forgot to do so I'd probably tell him he got a creeping sense that he had made a mistake.


So the most valuable thing I've found in this thread is the orphanage name "Tasha's Uncontrolable Hideous Sister". I'm so stealing that name for something.

I don't hate paladins. I do dislike their current incarnation and rules about who they can adventure with as I enjoy playing group-friendly lawful evil which means that either I or any given paladin player will have to choose who gets to play the character they want if we want a conflict-free group.

-TimD

Silver Crusade

Roberta Yang do you understand how outsiders work in Pathfinder? All outsiders have hard coded alignments. There can be no lawful good devils {as far as I know redemtion is not a game mechanic in Pathfinder.] A Paldin who is very sure of himself might carfuly parlay with a Devil. Never would a Paladin Parlay with a Demon or Deamon as they are the antithesis of what a Paladin stands for and that is the reason their diety granted them the power to smite evil.

Paldins were not given the power to smite evil to go around smiting evil mortals though it is damm handy for that when the Mortal will not listen to reason. Though I digress the Gods of good gave their mortal servants the power to smite evil to battle those outsiders that prey on thier the gods flocks of belivers.

I see a paladin encountering a law evil nonoutsider as a challange he the paladin wold not go smiting away for no good reason he would try to reddem the person who the paladin sees has fallen to evil. Good role plaing possibilties for both players. A Paladin encountering a Chaotic evil person that is conducting CE stuff would pulll out his holy sword [all paldins worth thier salt have one] and put the CE person down to save the people the gods had not graced with the powers to fight evil that why the gods directed the paladin to that palce in the first place
[Paldins do not belive in free will or predestination they are the will of thier gods that WHY they are.]


Aligned outsiders have alignment subtypes that cause them to always detect as and be treated as those alignments, but like any sentient creature their alignment is subject to change.


There is precedent for reformed outsiders (redeemed devils, fallen angels, and the like). They still PING as their original alignment, but they actually are another.

Ex: A Chaotic Evil angel still has an overwhelming Good aura.

Silver Crusade

I just want to clear up some confusion as to the Detect Evil spell. Whether you are an evil mortal or a demon or devil, the detection is the same. It doesn't tell you that the demon or devil is more evil than the the evil mortal. If you Detect Evil on an evil cleric then he could show up as having a stronger aura of evil than a demon or a devil. Hit dice show you who is more evil, not their race or class.


shallowsoul wrote:
I just want to clear up some confusion as to the Detect Evil spell. Whether you are an evil mortal or a demon or devil, the detection is the same. It doesn't tell you that the demon or devil is more evil than the the evil mortal. If you Detect Evil on an evil cleric then he could show up as having a stronger aura of evil than a demon or a devil. Hit dice show you who is more evil, not their race or class.

Actually, aligned undead, outsiders, and clerics/paladins/antipaladins give off stronger auras at the same hit dice. See detect evil.

A normal creature only begins giving off a faint aura of evil at 5 HD; a cleric or aligned outsider has a strong aura at that level, and at 11 HD give off overwhelming auras. So yes, your race or class do make a difference in how powerful your aura is.

Silver Crusade

Aratrok wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
I just want to clear up some confusion as to the Detect Evil spell. Whether you are an evil mortal or a demon or devil, the detection is the same. It doesn't tell you that the demon or devil is more evil than the the evil mortal. If you Detect Evil on an evil cleric then he could show up as having a stronger aura of evil than a demon or a devil. Hit dice show you who is more evil, not their race or class.

Actually, aligned undead, outsiders, and clerics/paladins/antipaladins give off stronger auras at the same hit dice. See detect evil.

A normal creature only begins giving off a faint aura of evil at 5 HD; a cleric or aligned outsider has a strong aura at that level, and at 11 HD give off overwhelming auras. So yes, your race or class do make a difference in how powerful your aura is.

It's still by hit dice, it's just that being undead or an outsider gives you phantom hit dice if that's what you want to call it.

So an undead with his phantom hit dice plus his own may still show up as less evil than an evil cleric with higher hit dice.


Yes, but what he's saying is equivalent hit dice don't equate to equivalent auras. 11 HD outsiders or Clerics are more aura-riffic than 11 HD Rangers.

Silver Crusade

Rynjin wrote:
Yes, but what he's saying is equivalent hit dice don't equate to equivalent auras. 11 HD outsiders or Clerics are more aura-riffic than 11 HD Rangers.

That's correct.


Shallowsoul, what you said is that your race or class have nothing to do with how powerful your alignment aura is. That's demonstrably false; two creatures of the same hit dice and alignment can have different auras depending on their race or class.

An 11 HD lawful evil human fighter has a moderate aura of evil. An 11 HD devil has an overwhelming aura of evil.

Silver Crusade

Aratrok wrote:

Shallowsoul, what you said is that your race or class have nothing to do with how powerful your alignment aura is. That's demonstrably false; two creatures of the same hit dice and alignment can have different auras depending on their race or class.

An 11 HD lawful evil human fighter has a moderate aura of evil. An 11 HD devil has an overwhelming aura of evil.

I have already explained how it goes.

I was saying that just because you are a demon doesn't mean you are going to automatically come up as being more evil if the hit dice don't match up against something with more.

Silver Crusade

None of you are wrong about this, you're just being imprecise in differing ways.

When I use detect evil, I'll get a result of either none, faint, moderate, strong or overwhelming. If I get a result of, say, 'moderate', then that is what the DM tells me!

I have to use my own nous to understand the implications of that, and I have the spell description to help me. So, it could be a creature with 11-15 HD, or it could be an evil undead of 3-8 HD, or an evil outsider of 2-4 HD, or an evil cleric with 2-4 HD.

If I recognise what kind of creature I'm looking at (knowledge check) I could narrow it down, but if it 'looks' like a person, it could be anywhere from 2-15 HD!

It's a good source of information, but it should be used wisely.


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I have decided that the next time my CN sorcerer is in a party with a paladin he needs to start hitting random people with his wand of infernal healing and watch hilarity ensue. :P


Pendagast wrote:

so boiling down 64 new posts. to: "exceptions exist" and "if a paladin makes a MISTAKE, and kills one of the exceptions, then this is a reason to fall, because there was a mistake made"

What part of WILLINGLY committing an evil act isn't understood here?

Sadly, the Atonement spell seems to indicate that unintentional evil acts committed due to incomplete information are still be grounds for falling:

"If the atoning creature committed the evil act unwittingly or under some form of compulsion, atonement operates normally at no cost to you."

shallowsoul wrote:

I have already explained how it goes.

I was saying that just because you are a demon doesn't mean you are going to automatically come up as being more evil if the hit dice don't match up against something with more.

Yes, but the hit dice difference in auras is so large that it's very easy to tell which you're dealing with.

For example, suppose you ping something and it has a Strong evil aura. Outsiders with a Strong evil aura aren't uncommon - it only takes 6-10 HD. On the other hand, regular beings with a Strong evil aura are almost unheard of - it would need 26 HD or more, and while it's possible you happened to stumble across a Tarrasque, it's not especially likely. (And even then, it almost certainly needs to die anyhow.) And if it gives off an Overwhelming evil aura, as all evil outsiders with more than 10 HD do? That's pretty much impossible without being an outsider, cleric, or undead - virtually nothing meets the 51 HD requirement.

Basically, if it has a Strong evil aura or stronger, as most evil outsiders do, you can just about smite with impunity. The only possible spanner in the works is if it's just a high-level evil cleric, but man those tentacles are kind of a giveaway.

The only other possible spanner in the works is some kind of nonsense with a Lawful Good demon or something stupid like that but that clearly falls beyond reasonable doubt unless there's overwhelming evidence otherwise. And it would take a lot of evidence to be persuasive; Chemlak gave an example earlier of a demon who helps out at an orphanage, but when I see that, I don't think "Oh, it's clearly a good demon", I think "Oh, it's trying to corrupt the children, get rid of it immediately".


...and, to add to the corner-cases of why Detect Evil is not a Smite-License:

Misdirection. [The spell, not the concept.]

It is improbable but well within the realm of the possible that the shifty-looking guy pinging on Sir Hypothetical's Detect Evil scan is the unfortunate subject of a Misdirection cast by some soaked-in-the-blood-of-innocents malefactor who is hoping for the exact reaction of "Evil=Smite" from Sir Hypothetical, knowing that even without the excess Smite damage that poor Expert 2 merchant will be cut down... putting our Paladinic hero on the bench until he atones, and granting our villain some Paladin-free time to put his Evil Plan into action.

Is this LIKELY? No. But it COULD HAPPEN, and is worth thinking of in the case of Detect Evil NOT being the end-all, be-all of tactical scans...


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Link to the spell.

It's entirely an arcane and rather high level: Paladin's don't have knowledge (arcana), and thus wouldn't likely know about such spell. Thus, it's not likely for them to know they shouldn't smite in-character, unless they've got a wizard that they trust explaining in simple terms why they might not be able to tell (in which case, why isn't the Wizard detecting magic - which can succeed with a will save). And they can make a will save to succeed anyway.

Look I've argued before, and I stand by it: Paladin's aren't supposed to be super-smite-happy ubersmiters of smitetown, but when fiends are involved (or any creature with a strong evil aura), they're basically given free reign to smite at will because, if they don't, they're letting evil go unpunished (which violates their code).

I've also argued, and stand by it: an alignment isn't something that you just happen to come by in an incalculably large number of cases; alignment is a general indicator of who and what the person in question is. But sure. In a non-combat situation, if a normal person detects evil, wait before smiting. Strong aura? Absolutely no reason to hold back (from any typical paladin's knowledge and point of view).

Incidentally, I'm all for risen fiends and fallen celestials and free will in the face of inherent alignments. They appear in my games. It's still not a paladin's wrong to misjudge a fiend. Especially since, if they're not in their native realm, they'll just be banished back there (though that might not be a PF thing anymore).

Point is: Paladins smite. They're supposed to use it. There are exceptions. Those exceptions are rare enough in most campaigns that it's not supposed to really be a big issue. If it is a big issue, the paladin should be made aware of it before they begin playing the paladin.

So what I'm saying is: GMs talk to your players, and players talk to your GMs, before hand.


Tacticslion wrote:

Link to the spell.

It's entirely an arcane and rather high level: Paladin's don't have knowledge (arcana), and thus wouldn't likely know about such spell. Thus, it's not likely for them to know they shouldn't smite in-character, unless they've got a wizard that they trust explaining in simple terms why they might not be able to tell (in which case, why isn't the Wizard detecting magic - which can succeed with a will save). And they can make a will save to succeed anyway.

[snipped]

So what I'm saying is: GMs talk to your players, and players talk to your GMs, before hand.

Uh, since when does a 2nd level spell qualify as "high level?"

I do agree that a clear setting-out of campaign style ans expectations beforehand can save a lot of grief.

Silver Crusade

Tacticslion wrote:

Link to the spell.

It's entirely an arcane and rather high level: Paladin's don't have knowledge (arcana), and thus wouldn't likely know about such spell. Thus, it's not likely for them to know they shouldn't smite in-character, unless they've got a wizard that they trust explaining in simple terms why they might not be able to tell (in which case, why isn't the Wizard detecting magic - which can succeed with a will save). And they can make a will save to succeed anyway.

Look I've argued before, and I stand by it: Paladin's aren't supposed to be super-smite-happy ubersmiters of smitetown, but when fiends are involved (or any creature with a strong evil aura), they're basically given free reign to smite at will because, if they don't, they're letting evil go unpunished (which violates their code).

I've also argued, and stand by it: an alignment isn't something that you just happen to come by in an incalculably large number of cases; alignment is a general indicator of who and what the person in question is. But sure. In a non-combat situation, if a normal person detects evil, wait before smiting. Strong aura? Absolutely no reason to hold back (from any typical paladin's knowledge and point of view).

Incidentally, I'm all for risen fiends and fallen celestials and free will in the face of inherent alignments. They appear in my games. It's still not a paladin's wrong to misjudge a fiend. Especially since, if they're not in their native realm, they'll just be banished back there (though that might not be a PF thing anymore).

Point is: Paladins smite. They're supposed to use it. There are exceptions. Those exceptions are rare enough in most campaigns that it's not supposed to really be a big issue. If it is a big issue, the paladin should be made aware of it before they begin playing the paladin.

So what I'm saying is: GMs talk to your players, and players talk to your GMs, before hand.

Detect Evil tells you nothing about the individual except for its aura of evil. It doesn't tell you that it's a demon or devil in disguise nor does Detect Evil give you the go ahead to smite to your hearts content, you don't get to hide behind ignorance. A really high level mortal can still radiate a strong evil but he's still mortal and if you haven't seen him do anything then you can't smite him just because he pings on your radar.


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Alitan wrote:
Uh, since when does a 2nd level spell qualify as "high level?"

Hahahahahah! Since I entirely goofed up!

That was entirely an artifact of my post. I'd actually had a few spell tabs open, looked at the wrong one (I forget which, now), and wrote up one draft, realized my mistake, and edited to get the second draft which I posted. Whoops! My bad. :)

Alitan wrote:
I do agree that a clear setting-out of campaign style ans expectations beforehand can save a lot of grief.

Which is really the majority of my point. :)

shallowsoul wrote:
Detect Evil tells you nothing about the individual except for its aura of evil. It doesn't tell you that it's a demon or devil in disguise nor does Detect Evil give you the go ahead to smite to your hearts content, you don't get to hide behind ignorance. A really high level mortal can still radiate a strong evil but he's still mortal and if you haven't seen him do anything then you can't smite him just because he pings on your radar.

Alright, let's look at Detect Evil.

Talking about strong auras first.

In Depth Discussion:
An aligned creature (except for an outsider or undead) must be at 26 hit dice before it gives off a strong aura. 26 Hit Dice! That's insanely high! If something is at 26 hit dice, it's hecka-crazy powerful and is an evil danger to everything around it. Duty? Make the thing not be an evil danger to everything around it.

An undead needs nine hit dice to be a strong aura. That's... not that much, especially comparatively. And, you know, while most all undead are evil, not all are, but it specifies that the undead you're looking at needs to be of the appropriate alignment for it to appear on the detect spell, so... you don't have to worry about false positives.

An evil outsider (everyone's favorite discussion piece) receives a strong aura at five hit dice, the same level as an evil cleric or antipaladin.

An evil spell requires a caster level of 16 to function. That's also pretty large.

When you see a strong aura you know: it's a super-powerful evil danger to everything around it; it's undead; it is a servant/tool/extension of evil that, by virtue of its nature (whether willingly arrived at or not), will perform horrid evil rites to corrupt others and cause evil; is an evil magic item; or there's a high powered evil spell. Regardless of which of the first four options is present, Smiting isn't the wrong thing to do (with the caveat that you'd be smiting the evil magic item, not the non-evil creature). With the last one, it's questionable, as perhaps a non-evil person is under the effects of an evil spell: highly unlikely for the majority of [evil] spells (no way I'm linking all of them), and with the majority that would be under the effects of such spells willingly by that point are not planning on doing 'good' or even 'neutral' things with them.

Thus, in pretty much all reasonable circumstances, then, strong aura of evil = smite = fine. There are hedge cases, but I'll get to those later.

What about a moderate evil aura?

In Depth Moderate Discussion:
Well, you'd still have to be a really potent 'normal' aligned creature, by requiring 16th level or higher. At that point, I can engage in world-breaking shenanigans, so why couldn't someone the paladin detects? They are certainly very dangerous and need to have an eye kept on them at all times. Perhaps not an insta-smite... but a smite waiting to happen. These are, usually, the final bosses of a campaign. This is usually about that tier of events that creatures are your foes and you will have to fight them or die anyway.

Or, it could be an undead of 3 hit dice or higher. In which case, it's going to be pretty obvious because, dudes, they're undead. Except for vampires, they're pretty friggin' obvious. And most vampires wouldn't be in this tier anyway (although they certainly can be).

Or, it could be an evil outsider of 2 to 4 hit dice or a cleric or antipaladin of equal levels. In which case, a brief perusal of the list of things there generally indicated that, aside from certain imps, outsiders of that hit-dice value don't have a, "I'm just an innocent" thing they can do, and seeing a dog (or whatever it turns into) radiate that much evil (or any evil, really) is going to get my hackles up as a paladin and set me to sniffing just what, exactly, is going on. The cleric may, depending on the domain list, have something up their sleeve, but if they're caught with an evil aura, that means they didn't prepare and use undetectable alignment, and that means they are either dumb or victims of a spell that, by their skill list, paladins wouldn't know existed anyway. In any event, challenging to an honorable duel or generally denouncing said creature to the church (and getting an investigation performed) isn't really a bad choice, here, especially if you've got allies to help you with said investigation.

Or, you know, it could be an evil spell cast by a just-pre-world-shatteringly powerful (11-15) caster (or, if played like I do, a world-shatteringly-powerful caster). And, as linked before, there are precious few spells with the evil descriptor that aren't pretty much, "So, I'm totally planning on doing something wicked, here."

So moderate auras will either make the paladin ready to smite at any time, or it should be obvious most of the time when they can smite with impunity. Those few cases it's not by this point, they simply need to be extremely watchful and/or get their church or allies to start an investigation preceding the extremely likely soon-to-be-coming smite. But those are few cases, in the larger scheme of things.

What about faint?

Well, you've either got a moderately leveled 'normal', a skeleton or zombie (in which case I really hope it's obvious what you should do), a very mysterious 1 hit dice outsider (in which case, again, I really hope its obvious what you should do), a newblet cleric or paladin of an evil god, or a decently powerful spell effect going on (which are generally made and used by devout servants of evil gods), or there's an obvious magic item (which needs to be destroyed to prevent corruption). So, in three out of six cases, a paladin can rest assured that they know exactly what to do. In the other they've got a 50/50 chance of smiting a devout (if relatively weak) servant of an evil god. Does it require more investigation? In half the cases, yes. In the other half, notsomuch.

What about no aura?

Then don't waste a smite, Goofy. :)

What about Hedge Cases?

These consist of:

  • Evil outsiders
  • Non-evil people with '[evil]' spells

Welp. That's... a short list, when compared with all the things that can set detect evil off. But let's look at them.

Evil outsiders are, by nature, evil. They will naturally be inclined to do the worst thing they can think of... that is, after all, their nature (though what a given fiend looks at as 'the worst' will invariably vary from fiend to fiend). Now the questions, "What are the odds of having a non-evil fiend?" and "What is the harm of letting a seemingly innocent (but probably good at lying) fiend go without smiting?" The first answer is probably very little (because, you know, they're fiends). The second answer is probably very much (because, you know, they're fiends). Thus, unless given an extremely good reason to believe otherwise, a paladin is not doing anything evil if they smite a fiend who has become good: they might be making a mistake, but there really is no way to fault the paladin for that in most cases, as fiends tend to be excellent liars and deceivers. And citing the fact that non-evil creatures can be made into fiends (which is a good point) doesn't really mitigate the fact that, right now, that thing over there is a fiend. It's a tragedy, but most paladins don't really have the option of going, "Oh, well, let's reform them."... unless, again, the GM gives the paladin extremely good reason to do otherwise. All of which rests on the GM.

People with evil auras: paladins tend to be less smite happy with obvious non-fiends anyway. However a paladin would certainly be within his rights to challenge a creature who radiated with evil magic. And if the creature submitted? A "smite test challenge" could certainly work: the paladin could make a single (non-lethal) unarmed strike against the creature (basically, a slap). If the smite happens, they're evil, and deserve the smite by virtue of being evil. If not, the paladin has lay on hands. I imagine few would be willing to undergo the "smite test challenge", but I give that as an option for paladins who are, for whatever reason, by themselves. With creatures other than paladins around, a paladin has more options to get his comrades to look into the situation. If someone refuses to cooperate with a paladin, well, violence is likely to happen and the paladin has to use his judgement. Which, if the GM is trying to make a paladin trap, is going to be wrong, because the GM is being a jerk. But that's hardly the Paladin's fault.

Short version: unless the GM sets out the guidelines in advance, there is no reason why, in the majority of cases, a paladin could not be absolutely confident when to or not to smite an opponent.

Again, that's not to say that a paladin should necessarily smite anything and everything that pings evil on the evildar (and there are plenty of situations where this is not tactically or strategically sound... including large-scale or small-scale social situations).

There's one other thing to consider, however: how much of an evil act or person does it require to make someone evil? This is the last thing in which many disagreements happen. Are people just incidentally evil? No. It is the result of choice. People certainly have inclinations, but only by following those inclinations, and actually acting can anyone (in PF, at least, aside from obscure GM fiat) ever arrive at the evil alignments. In most campaigns there's a shade more grey than this, and that's fine. But in the world as presented evil people are evil by nature and, by being evil, pretty much deserve their comeuppance, i.e. a paladin's smite. Of course there are implications to consider (such as an entire country like Cheliax), but those are, again, more hedge cases. A paladin need not be stupid. They don't have to smite anything that moves at every turn. But being evil in PF is pretty much a fully prepaid (with all the extras) one-way ticket to "smite me!"-ville, population: you.

That's why there's so many neutral people in PF APs and such, regardless of how terrible I think they are, personally: ultimately they haven't made the decisions and actions to result in an evil alignment.

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