Why are undead always evil?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Ah, that's a question thar civilization faces and is Abadar's problem, not Pharasma's.


Being the master of the Aeons, it's her question to answer too.


I don't think she cares what happens to buildings.


But she does care about what happens to souls... which is intrinsically linked to building structures, spacial limits, and the like.


Jeven wrote:
Rubius wrote:
If a Necromancer in a town where the religion do not see bringing dead corpse as a sacrilege but as a honor,(as they can serve the town even after death) would that be evil?

Its a slippery slope on the path to evil. When you have a society delve into necromancy people could easily make this sort of crazy argument:-

Zombie workers don't require food or shelter and work and fight for free. Therefore dead unskilled laborers and common soldiers are more valuable than living ones. And as heaven and souls are real, it makes sense to murder all the unskilled people and turn their bodies into zombies. This is not evil, because the good souls go to heaven and live happily ever after, while zombie bodies make efficient workers and defenders benefiting everyone else.

That's... strange logic to be sure. And also really unlikely, to take hold, I think.

Consider: real world religion using the dead in a way they consider honorably, that's not a real stretch between Necromancy for that purpose and building materials. And that's not even the only one. In both cases, it comes from a religious order who would not tolerate the murder of killing people for the purpose their corpses are used for, and strongly believe in a heavenly afterlife.

So, sure, it's a slippery slope, but not as much of one as you make out.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tacticslion wrote:
Reference getting around Pharasma: I'm not saying that Golarion's gods should be omnipotent... by any means. It just seems rather spectacular that one of her primary decrees is "no undead", and a really low-level spell undoes that. Especially considering that it's implied that those low-level spells destroy angels, demons, and devils (no matter how powerful); undo godly ascensions; and completely contravene Pharasma on what amounts to her own turf.

But it's not her turf. Her turf is the Boneyard and the place of Judgement and so far she has not been shown to be contestable at her special place of power. The mortal plane however is a free for all gameboard, where many gods contend for influence through mortal chess pieces. And one of those gods is Urgotha the patron of undead herself. Pharasma can also be bypassed. As a Season 4 scenario shows if you are sacrificed on an altar dedicated to a particular diety... then your soul is going to take the express trip to that diety's realm... no matter what your alignment is. And only a cleric of that diety is going to be able to reverse that process... provided they can be persuaded to do so.


I know that thing, it appears in an AP (Council of Thieves bestiary,to be precise). It's called an Ebon Idol I believe?

The thing about "turf" is I didn't mean "Boneyard", I meant, her domain is life/death/birth/judgment. And she's getting regularly tromped over on that turf.

It would be like if a god of, say, storms sent a mighty hurricane, and someone could cast a third level spell to go "nah, we don't need that nonsense". It's goofy and it defeats the god when the god is supposed to have all the advantages. That's what I mean by "turf".

If the third level spell Gentle Repose can forcibly prevent a soul from being judged, than she is being defeated on her own turf (i.e. the Boneyard) by relatively low-grade magic. If a third level spell can accidentally destroy more than three different ninth level spells put together (one of which, unless someone uses a third level spell, she can outright negate) something is seriously wrong here.

These makes her look relatively incompetent.

And Pharasma's actually pretty awesome... but this undermines her coolness factor.

Casting a third level spell to negate the power of a pit fiend (or any other powerful outsider, really), is also just plain terrible design, but, as written, it's implied it works that way.

Also: raise magic works on animals, ergo they have souls. Plant creatures as well. Thus whenever we eat plants or animals, we positive energy creatures are devouring and destroying life and positive energy.


Tacticslion wrote:
But she does care about what happens to souls... which is intrinsically linked to building structures, spacial limits, and the like.

I've never found anything within her domain or church description that leads me to this conclusion, despite having played multiple clerics of Pharasma (life, death, and prophecy varieties). Either way, I'll concede the point, I've derailed the topic too much already.


Tacticslion wrote:

I know that thing, it appears in an AP (Council of Thieves bestiary,to be precise). It's called an Ebon Idol I believe?

The thing about "turf" is I didn't mean "Boneyard", I meant, her domain is life/death/birth/judgment. And she's getting regularly tromped over on that turf.

It would be like if a god of, say, storms sent a mighty hurricane, and someone could cast a third level spell to go "nah, we don't need that nonsense". It's goofy and it defeats the god when the god is supposed to have all the advantages. That's what I mean by "turf".

If the third level spell Gentle Repose can forcibly prevent a soul from being judged, than she is being defeated on her own turf (i.e. the Boneyard) by relatively low-grade magic. If a third level spell can accidentally destroy more than three different ninth level spells put together (one of which, unless someone uses a third level spell, she can outright negate) something is seriously wrong here.

These makes her look relatively incompetent.

And Pharasma's actually pretty awesome... but this undermines her coolness factor.

Casting a third level spell to negate the power of a pit fiend (or any other powerful outsider, really), is also just plain terrible design, but, as written, it's implied it works that way.

Also: raise magic works on animals, ergo they have souls. Plant creatures as well. Thus whenever we eat plants or animals, we positive energy creatures are devouring and destroying life and positive energy.

I absolutely agree with all of this. The one situation where, I feel, gentle repose *could* delay Pharasma's judgement of a soul is from her own Clerics of death (repose domain), and that's asking her to do so. She doesn't have to oblige.

Edit: except the last sentence of that last part. Mortals are not positive energy creatures. They only have a spark, that's why the positive energy plane will kill unprotected mortals. Undead, however, are empowered by the negative energy plane.

Dark Archive

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Jeven wrote:

Doesn't the spell employ some sort of evil spirit (from the negative energy plane) to animate the corpse, just as golems are animated with a neutral spirit from the plane of earth?

Both are still mindless but the zombie is tainted.

The negative energy plane (or negative material plane) is and always has been neutral. It's never even been *mildly* evil aligned. And the positive plane has never been even mildly good aligned.

And, generally, if you want to conjure actual creatures from other planes (such as these hypothetical 'evil spirits from the negative planes'), necromancy isn't your school anyway, it's conjuration.

Skip Williams was pretty clear. Zombies and Skeletons were made evil in 3.5 'so that Paladins can smite them.' Before then, mindless things were, pretty much by definition, incapable of malice.

To be evil, you had to A) do evil, and B) choose evil. But, over the years, a small group of people who I imagine must virulently loathe the entire concept of alignment have been pushing very hard for non-evil things to be flagged as evil, and for 'good' characters to be able to commit all sorts of evil acts, up to and including genocide, on anyone who is on 'red team.'

In so doing, the alignment system has been watered down, with evil not really meaning evil (just ugly, or powered by the wrong color of energy) and good not really meaning good (since it has more to do with doing evil things to evil folk, than actually incentivizing actual virtuous or noble or kind behavior), to the point that MMOs, in which it is often difficult, if not impossible, to 'change teams,' have a more robust alignment system than tabletop d20.

I don't miss the harsh nature of alignment in 1st edition, where changing one's alignment resulted in level loss, and was entirely at the whim of the DM (often with little or no guidance, leaving it feeling entirely capricious), but this 'evil is evil because it says evil on the sheet' and 'my baby-killing genocidal hate-fueled Paladin is good because it says good on his sheet' seems a strange compromise.

Silver Crusade

TriOmegaZero wrote:
I see I may need to pick up some of the old 2E books. Sounds like they had some sensible lore compared to 3E.

2E may have had its share of problems but a lot of the setting material could be much more nuanced than some of the shoehorning that took place during 3.x.

Heck, 2E gave us Jakandor, and you absolutely could not run that setting using the current necromancy rules as-written without destroying the entire point of that setting.

I miss non-evil Crypt Things and many other non-evil undead folks.


Pharasma doesn't dwell on the material plane...Creating undead is no more proof that she is incompetent than peace accords prove Gorum is useless or a barbarian tribe razing a city make Abadar a loser. She has not control over magic, including necromancy.

My guess would be that the Gods have limits...If Pharasma was going to act in such a way that ended necromancy, she would be stepping over the line and potentially ticking multiple gods off, especially Urgoatha (sp?) and Nethys.

Also, I keep hearing that raising a skeleton somehow can undo a pit fiend? Where is this bit of lore stated? My understanding (which might have come from the ask James Jacobs thread), was that you pull out a miniscule amount of energy from a outsider when you raise it's mortal body, not enough to seriously damage something that is CR 20. Also, admittedly this is reading between the lines, but petitioners don't instantly become outsiders. It take a VERY long time for that process to work, and for many outsiders they start off low on the totem pole.

By the time someone has made pitfiend, it's likely thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of years have gone past. At that point vanishingly few people would even remember you, and any mortal remains have probably turned to dust.


Tacticslion wrote:

That's... strange logic to be sure. And also really unlikely, to take hold, I think.

Consider: real world religion using the dead in a way they consider honorably, that's not a real stretch between Necromancy for that purpose and building materials. And that's not even the only one. In both cases, it comes from a religious order who would not tolerate the murder of killing people for the purpose their corpses are used for, and strongly believe in a heavenly afterlife.
So, sure, it's a slippery slope, but not as much of one as you make out.

Many societies have traveled down a dark path when the value of death came to surpass the value of life, for example the Aztecs' lust for bloody human sacrifices which they did in the belief this would please their gods and ensure a bountiful harvest.

So in a fantasy necromantic society where corpses become a valuable resource, it seems almost inevitable that people would place less value on life. People would probably also become inured to death if their undead relatives were still shuffling about the house. I think it would change the whole psychology of the society for the worse with people becoming increasingly evil as they place less value on life.

Silver Crusade

Tacticslion wrote:

(...)

Casting a third level spell to negate the power of a pit fiend (or any other powerful outsider, really), is also just plain terrible design, but, as written, it's implied it works that way.

Also: raise magic works on animals, ergo they have souls. Plant creatures as well. Thus whenever we eat plants or animals, we positive energy creatures are devouring and destroying life and positive energy.

To put my $.02 on both of these things.

The second first. Mortals don't eat or consume positive energy. Nor do they devour life. They devour /matter/. Dwarves aren't going 'Mmmm, tasty pig souls!' when they sit down to eat some ham and elves aren't going 'I shall dine upon the LIFE FORCE OF THE WORLD' before tucking into their salads.

Its essentially chowing down on material in order to fulfill chemical processes, etc, etc. The consumptive undead do things differently. They /are/ going 'Ah! Human spirit energy tastes so good!' and vampires are consuming blood not principly for the blood factor (they're not vampire bats), but for the fact blood is symbolic of an entity's life force. Its why being exsanguinated by a flock of mundane vampire bats or stirges produces a corpse, but being exsanguinated by a vampire produces another vampire. Ditto ghouls and them munching on people.

Undead are intrinsically a /perversion/ of something, thats a contributing factor in their evil.

Now as to the first. Gentle repose doesn't prevent Pharasma's judgment in this case, it merely delays it and I wager the goddess of death is patience personified. Also arguing that some such powerful entity shouldn't be put out by a 'mere' whatever level spell is the same thought that thinks a fellow from a first would country shouldn't need to worry about axes from a stone age tribe.

Its even sillier when you consider gentle repose can be a cleric spell, at which point it's deities interposing against one another through proxies.

On the societal thing that keeps coming up... And I'm going to get in trouble for this, evil ethnocentricist moral objectivist that I am. But..just because a society says something's ok, doesn't mean it is. You don't get to vote on what's right and wrong, especially so in Pathfinder's fantasy world.

If the society decides the best way to light the street is by taking kobold infants and lighting them on fire on top of poles every night, this doesn't mean its acceptable, even if its 'a great honor to be impaled and burned.'


Maxamonium wrote:

Silly question, isn't it? We all know zombies as being under the command of a diabolical lich or who knows what kind of despicable necromancer, but I still wish to push my point and ask; why are undead always evil?

My hypothesis is simple; not all zombies, skeletons, vampires what-have-you are necessarily evil. Surely just because one deals with negative energy doesn't mean that you're suddenly very much into the idea of causing pain or eating flesh. What about necromancers that simply want a zombie butler named Jeffrey? What of them? The simple cleric who wants to know more about the lines between life, death, and unlife/undeath (depending on whether you're a optimist or not).

They aren't. At least they're not supposed to be. The core rules explicitly say that it is impossible for skeletons and zombies to be anything except True Neutral. Sentient creatures like ghouls, ghasts, vampires, mummies and so forth are capable of choosing their own alignment because they are sentient. Nothing about the undead type makes them evil by default, and negative energy is not evil in the rules either. So skeletons and zombies being "Evil" is a statblock error just as ogres being nonproficiet with their greatclubs but lacking the penalty is a statblock error (this is true, check the ogre's statblock and its proficiencies).

However, the Bestiary provides a recommended alignment or the alignment that is most common to the creature. It does however state that these are not hardcoded values.

Bestiary wrote:
The alignments listed for each monster in this book represent the norm for those monsters—they can vary as you require them to in order to serve the needs of your campaign.

Dark Archive

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Spook205 wrote:

The second first. Mortals don't eat or consume positive energy. Nor do they devour life. They devour /matter/. Dwarves aren't going 'Mmmm, tasty pig souls!' when they sit down to eat some ham and elves aren't going 'I shall dine upon the LIFE FORCE OF THE WORLD' before tucking into their salads.

Its essentially chowing down on material in order to fulfill chemical processes, etc, etc. The consumptive undead do things differently. They /are/ going 'Ah! Human spirit energy tastes so good!' and vampires are consuming blood not principly for the blood factor (they're not vampire bats), but for the fact blood is symbolic of an entity's life force. Its why being exsanguinated by a flock of mundane vampire bats or stirges produces a corpse, but being exsanguinated by a vampire produces another vampire. Ditto ghouls and them munching on people.

Undead are intrinsically a /perversion/ of something, thats a contributing factor in their evil.

Many undead (skeletons, zombies, mummies, liches, ghosts) have neither the ability to or the need to or the desire to feed off of the living in any way. Many other undead *can* feed off of the living, but don't necessarily have to (shadows, wights, wraiths, spectres). And there are indeed undead who greatly desire to feed, but may or may not technically *need* to feed, since, for story reasons, it's great if one can stumble into a tomb or crypt and unleash a ghoul or vampire, without it having 'starved to death' because of some persnickety mechanical rule about precise undead feeding time intervals that only subtracts from GM options, instead of adding to them.

Humans, and, indeed, all living things that aren't outsiders, also have to feed, and, unlike vampires, who can feed without killing (by draining only a bit of blood from each of many minions, or even animals, allowing them to recover the lost Con point overday before feeding on them again the next night), or ghouls, who can gain whatever 'nutrition' they require from ages dead corpses, also, potentially, animals, humans, elves, druids and paladins can't live this way, but have to actually kill living creatures to extract nutrients.

It's counter-intuitive, I think, to label undead, healed and empowered and nurtured by negative energy, which is no more or less 'unnatural' than the positive energy that empowers and nurtures and heals living creatures, as 'not natural,' since the negative energy plane, like the plane of fire, or the astral plane, is indeed a *natural* part of the D&D/Pathfinder cosmology.

In fact, undead are *less* likely to require sustenance, or to suffer the effects of aging, which makes it seem pretty obvious that it's the living folk, healing and empowered by *positive* energy that are more out of touch with the material plane, as it's constantly eating away at them (through aging) and they have to kill and kill and kill again, every day, just to survive, while a mummy or lich suffers none of this antagonistic environmental decay from being 'incompatible' or 'unnatural' to the material plane, and doesn't have to feed at all.

Whether it 'makes sense' or not depends on your preconceptions, but the facts are this; creatures nurtured by negative energy are *more compatible* with the material plane than creatures nurtured by positive energy.

*I* think 'evil' should be about choice, not circumstances beyond a creatures control.

A ghoul or a vampire isn't evil just because it's undead.

Most of them are hopelessly evil because, despite being *able* to sustain themselves without killing living things (a choice humans simply do not have), so many of them can't be bothered, and choose not to do so.

*That's,* IMO, what makes them evil. Evil choices, not the wrong color of completely mindless, completely non-evil, completely *natural* (in a fantasy setting) energy flowing through their bodies.

But that's just me, advocating for an alignment system that means something, and is about choices and consequences, and not a meaningless rubber stamp issued by creature Type or what color energy turns your crank.

Without choice, IMO, the entire concept of alignment is worse than useless, it's actually counter-productive.

Shadow Lodge

Set, I love that post so much.


Jeven wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:

That's... strange logic to be sure. And also really unlikely, to take hold, I think.

Consider: real world religion using the dead in a way they consider honorably, that's not a real stretch between Necromancy for that purpose and building materials. And that's not even the only one. In both cases, it comes from a religious order who would not tolerate the murder of killing people for the purpose their corpses are used for, and strongly believe in a heavenly afterlife.
So, sure, it's a slippery slope, but not as much of one as you make out.

Many societies have traveled down a dark path when the value of death came to surpass the value of life, for example the Aztecs' lust for bloody human sacrifices which they did in the belief this would please their gods and ensure a bountiful harvest.

So in a fantasy necromantic society where corpses become a valuable resource, it seems almost inevitable that people would place less value on life. People would probably also become inured to death if their undead relatives were still shuffling about the house. I think it would change the whole psychology of the society for the worse with people becoming increasingly evil as they place less value on life.

There's no question that many societies have traveled down that lot, but here's the thing: the Aztecs required human sacrifice. The Christians above? They used human death. Those are very, very different. I'm not saying it's impossible, only that it's not as automatic a slippery slop as you're implying. Point in fact, I think it's very possible to "go wrong". However, your original posts make it sound inevitable... and that's simply not true.

I mean, today we use oil - fossil fuel - to power practically everything we do, but we hardly murder people in order to create more* (much less our own citizens).

I think there is a slope, but it's not an "automatic fall" one. Just because something seems like it must happen in one point of view doesn't make that correct. Heck, look at the world today and third-world countries in which many are starving. Some of these starving societies are filled with selfish, cruel individuals because everyone is starving and it's a "me or you" mentality. On the other hand, some literally share everything they have, even and especially when it's not enough. Same situation - a situation which encourages selfishness as a necessary survival mechanism - but some respond better to it than others.

So, no. I reject the notion that a necromantic nation is automatically going to descend into murdering it's people for "free" labor (which still costs money, by the way).

* Political arguments completely aside, I mean only what I say: we are not killing people and creatures in order to literally turn those into fossil fuels, which, by all rights, we should be able to do by now. This is the equivalent of what you're suggesting.

MMCJawa wrote:

Pharasma doesn't dwell on the material plane...Creating undead is no more proof that she is incompetent than peace accords prove Gorum is useless or a barbarian tribe razing a city make Abadar a loser. She has not control over magic, including necromancy.

My guess would be that the Gods have limits...If Pharasma was going to act in such a way that ended necromancy, she would be stepping over the line and potentially ticking multiple gods off, especially Urgoatha (sp?) and Nethys.

She can already block spells - mortal magic - that's happening on the material plane: more specifically, she can block any spell that raises the dead, and the method she does so is by judging the soul (so I guess conjuration is weaker than necromancy). "Turf" might have been a bad choice of words, but what I meant is it's her portfolio, and it's the thing that she has the most power over, period.

Let's put this into different terms. You mentioned Gorum and how Peace Accords don't weaken him. Well... actually they do. Point in fact, when the last battle ever fought on Golarion finishes, Gorum tells his followers, he will rust away into nothing. So, it sucks for him, I guess. As far as Abadar being a loser, he kind of is (see Zon-Kuthon gaining power over shadows), but the trick with him is any having a single city isn't his schtick. But even if only a single city counted, let's look at it this way: in this case, it would be akin to a single third level spell leveling an entire city. WELP.

Or, as a previous example I used, if a god of storms whipped up a hurricane on the material plane and sent it there because of his wrath, there's no way a third level spell should negate that. None.

MMCJawa wrote:

Also, I keep hearing that raising a skeleton somehow can undo a pit fiend? Where is this bit of lore stated? My understanding (which might have come from the ask James Jacobs thread), was that you pull out a miniscule amount of energy from a outsider when you raise it's mortal body, not enough to seriously damage something that is CR 20. Also, admittedly this is reading between the lines, but petitioners don't instantly become outsiders. It take a VERY long time for that process to work, and for many outsiders they start off low on the totem pole.

By the time someone has made pitfiend, it's likely thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of years have gone past. At that point vanishingly few people would even remember you, and any mortal remains have probably turned to dust.

Specifically it's a sidebar in the Classic Horrors Revisited book (part of the various Creatures Revisited line of the Pathfinder Chronicles line). While it requires "reading into it", it doesn't require much. This is specifically talking about skeletons and zombies (the "Walking Dead" chapter).

Classic Horrors Revisited, page 56, Facets of Fear sidebar wrote:
The fear of the walking dead is also the fear of becoming one of them—a mindless slave under the control of someone else. A person transformed into a zombie loses his freedom, his individuality, his conscience, and some might say his very soul. And not even death can save you from such a fate, because your final reward—a peaceful death and a heavenly afterlife—is also taken from you. Becoming a member of the walking dead means nothing less than a horrific, unending life without hope of rest.

There are a few other instances where similar things are implied, though not as heavily as here. A number of people on the forums (non-official, from the posts I've seen) have implied that there is a remnant of the soul, some sort of left-over "animus element" and that's what's being used in this, however I've never seen any sort of official confirmation or denial. The theory there goes that it's not the real soul, but another.

Here's the thing, though, up above it clearly specifies that your afterlife is taken from you.

As far as the time judgement takes? Completely arbitrary and up to Pharasma. I have seen James Jacobs explain clearly that once Pharasma judges a creature, it can't be raised from the dead. He's gone on record as saying that there is no specific line or queue - your judge when Pharasma wants you to be (as in the case of Aroden, when the instant he died he was placed in front of Pharasma to be judged immediately). Once you're judged... that's it. Nothing can bring you back from the dead. Raise Dead and Reincarnate no longer work, Resurrection and even True Resurrection are plain out of luck. It's over.

And, while these things are hedge cases, the thing with mortal remains is it doesn't matter. There are quite a few spells, now, that can take even the smallest piece of a corpse and restore it to wholeness.

Heck, though it would take a Wish spell, said Wish spell can literally create a new body for a dead person (which counts as their body for all purposes). If you have a corpse, even a fresh one, than you can have a free undead servant, and denying anything that soul has become, as it's "final reward" is taken from it.

The problem is the implication here. If Pharasma can forcibly prevent fourth through ninth level spells, why can't she prevent third?

IF the state of undeath - Animate Dead - didn't specifically steal the soul's afterlife from them, or whatever amount it did steal was miniscule... then okay: I'm actually (somewhat) fine with it. I'd love to see that post by James Jacobs, in fact, as he's pretty canon about such things.

As it stands, however, while it certainly explains how things are evil, it also gimps a goddess on her own turf, that of death and the afterlife.

I admit, you could simply read the line and take it a very different way - that only those who have a heavenly afterlife are torn from it. In which case Pharasma can go do something (un)pleasant to herself with a device best left unspoken about in an unsanitary and unhealthy manner because that just sucks, and she's even worse. Also, all of Team Good looks like chumps now.

Spook205 wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:

(...)

Casting a third level spell to negate the power of a pit fiend (or any other powerful outsider, really), is also just plain terrible design, but, as written, it's implied it works that way.

Also: raise magic works on animals, ergo they have souls. Plant creatures as well. Thus whenever we eat plants or animals, we positive energy creatures are devouring and destroying life and positive energy.

To put my $.02 on both of these things.

The second first. Mortals don't eat or consume positive energy. Nor do they devour life. They devour /matter/. Dwarves aren't going 'Mmmm, tasty pig souls!' when they sit down to eat some ham and elves aren't going 'I shall dine upon the LIFE FORCE OF THE WORLD' before tucking into their salads.

Its essentially chowing down on material in order to fulfill chemical processes, etc, etc. The consumptive undead do things differently. They /are/ going 'Ah! Human spirit energy tastes so good!' and vampires are consuming blood not principly for the blood factor (they're not vampire bats), but for the fact blood is symbolic of an entity's life force. Its why being exsanguinated by a flock of mundane vampire bats or stirges produces a corpse, but being exsanguinated by a vampire produces another vampire. Ditto ghouls and them munching on people.

Undead are intrinsically a /perversion/ of something, thats a contributing factor in their evil.

Confusing way of putting it, but alright.

The short answer is: no. A skeleton doesn't "eat" anything. Neither does a zombie (unless it's a kind of zombie that does). For that matter, ghouls don't eat souls and are uninterested in them: they prefer fleshy flesh-flesh. Vampires can suck down souls (though their hands), but really their craving is for blood - you know, the red stuff that pumps through the various blood vessels.

Ghouls produce ghouls not because it eats souls (it doesn't, it eats flesh), but because of a magic disease it comes afflicted with. Vampires create other vampires by blood draining. It's ill-explained, and could be feeding off the soul, but if that's true, why doesn't blood draining... actually feed off the soul?

Other undead? Sure, I'll grant you (to a point - I still don't see why shadows dealing strength drain is "consuming life force", but they're incoporeal, so I'll roll with it). But those are four straight-up examples that don't follow your point. Undead do not intrinsically need to "consume positive energy", and the two you mentioned specifically devour matter.

BUT! Let's presume they do need to consume positive energy. Why would channel energy harm them? It should be like, "Mhm, that's some good soul-stuff right there." If, on the other hand, it's "too much of a good thing", well... why can't positive energy be used to harm living creatures? There are too many holes in that interpretation.

Spook205 wrote:

Now as to the first. Gentle repose doesn't prevent Pharasma's judgment in this case, it merely delays it and I wager the goddess of death is patience personified. Also arguing that some such powerful entity shouldn't be put out by a 'mere' whatever level spell is the same thought that thinks a fellow from a first would country shouldn't need to worry about axes from a stone age tribe.

Its even sillier when you consider gentle repose can be a cleric spell, at which point it's deities interposing against one another through proxies.

First: so you accept that a third level spell can totally thwart (however temporarily) the will of a greater goddess when directly applied to both her portfolio and her specific job in the multiverse? And this doesn't bother you?

Second: third level being "mere" isn't a lack of understanding on my part of the power of magic. Spells go up to ninth level. Ninth. Third is only, well, a third of the way up. Pharasma has the express ability to completely negate spells that would mess with her portfolio (what I've been calling "turf"), even and especially divine spells, such as reincarnation, raise dead, breath of life, resurrection, and true resurrection. No, my confusion as to why she can't handle a third level spell is pretty legitimate.

But let's ignore the divine thing for a bit. Gentle repose can be a cleric spell... but it can also be an arcane spell. In which case it's effectively a mortal casting going "Nah, you can sit down and shut up, goddess, and wait for me to finish when I want." (intentionally or not), which is kind of goofy.

Spook205 wrote:

On the societal thing that keeps coming up... And I'm going to get in trouble for this, evil ethnocentricist moral objectivist that I am. But..just because a society says something's ok, doesn't mean it is. You don't get to vote on what's right and wrong, especially so in Pathfinder's fantasy world.

If the society decides the best way to light the street is by taking kobold infants and lighting them on fire on top of poles every night, this doesn't mean its acceptable, even if its 'a great honor to be impaled and burned.'

Frankly, I agree with you on this.

Here's the thing, though: some things that one society considers evil another does not. Some things that we as a society consider evil... probably are not, on a cosmic scale. Some things that are definitively evil in this world, are demonstrably not in Pathfinder.

There are things that are legitimately okay and are "done right" in societies other than our own.

Personally:
* If you start murdering people for labor? Totally evil, and you should be smote.

* If it's just a matter of making a mindless non-evil worker out of my now-useless skeletal structure when I'm gone and not going to use it anymore? Sign me up! (Similarly, I'm an organ donor).

The latter is creepy to me, in a way, but only because it causes me to reflect on my own mortality. I don't like the idea that I'll be dead (I'm rather attached to being alive, you see), and thus I don't like thinking about it or looking at that evidence in the face. On the other hand... I'm not going to be using it, and it could save someone's life, or prove useful to those I love that survive me. Why wouldn't I?

And instead of me, let's look at a person who lives in a society that embraces the fact that one day they'll die, and their corpse will likely be used for work. Suddenly, they probably don't even think about it much anymore, kind of like how I don't often reflect on the fact that I'm using nothing more than compressed ancient dinosaur flesh-tissue to create small explosions in a specially-built device to hold and use ancient dinosaur flesh-tissue to create explosions in order go at speed that (normally) never exceed the speed limit by more than five miles per hour. Instead I fill my car up with gas (and make sure it's well oiled) and go about my day, content that the massive amount of desecration of the remains of a once-living creature (that would surely mind, if it were alive) means nothing to it now that it's dead, and is instead super-useful to me.

Let's be clear, here.
>> 3.0: mindless undead are not evil.
>> 3.5: mindless undead are evil, a change made explicitly because paladins needed to be able to smite stuff.
>> Pathfinder: mindless undead are evil in order to be backwards compatible.

We're all just quibbling over whether the mindless becoming (and remaining) evil makes sense. I'll allow that a given campaign world can make those decisions freely. But to also force that in a general way is... iffy, at best, to me.

There are plenty of "patches" to force the mindless-as-evil to make sense, however, those patches generally raise more questions than not.

Also, MMCJawa, I'd really, really love to see that post, if you can find it. It would help me greatly. :)

EDIT: ninja'd by Set. Also, correcting MMCJawa's name, as I forgot one of the Ms. Sorry!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Spook205 wrote:
Now as to the first. Gentle repose doesn't prevent Pharasma's judgment in this case, it merely delays it and I wager the goddess of death is patience personified. Also arguing that some such powerful entity shouldn't be put out by a 'mere' whatever level spell is the same thought that thinks a fellow from a first would country shouldn't need to worry about axes from a stone age tribe.

Gentle Repose doesn't prevent her judgment, it just delays it. And again.. she has eternity to wait. She doesn't even go after people who extend themselves with Sun Orchid elixirs.

What does happen is that if you extend your life long enough, you get put on a list for the inevitables. And when your name comes up as next on that list.... they start hunting you down.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tacticslion wrote:

I know that thing, it appears in an AP (Council of Thieves bestiary,to be precise). It's called an Ebon Idol I believe?

The thing about "turf" is I didn't mean "Boneyard", I meant, her domain is life/death/birth/judgment. And she's getting regularly tromped over on that turf.

It would be like if a god of, say, storms sent a mighty hurricane, and someone could cast a third level spell to go "nah, we don't need that nonsense". It's goofy and it defeats the god when the god is supposed to have all the advantages. That's what I mean by "turf".

If the third level spell Gentle Repose can forcibly prevent a soul from being judged, than she is being defeated on her own turf (i.e. the Boneyard) by relatively low-grade magic. If a third level spell can accidentally destroy more than three different ninth level spells put together (one of which, unless someone uses a third level spell, she can outright negate) something is seriously wrong here.

These makes her look relatively incompetent.

And Pharasma's actually pretty awesome... but this undermines her coolness factor.

Casting a third level spell to negate the power of a pit fiend (or any other powerful outsider, really), is also just plain terrible design, but, as written, it's implied it works that way.

Also: raise magic works on animals, ergo they have souls. Plant creatures as well. Thus whenever we eat plants or animals, we positive energy creatures are devouring and destroying life and positive energy.

Gods aren't supreme. That's why spells like Control Weather, Gust of Wind, Quench Fire, Create and Destroy Water and a whole bunch of other spells can exist despite the fact that there are dieties who oversee portfolios concerning areas those spells "tromp" over.

Having a portfolio over something just means that a God has a vested interest in it and is linked to something. It does not make them absolutely dominant or even controlling over the item of that portfolio. The God of Fire may flame strike an area, but he can't prevent a Druid from casting "quench fire" unless said Druid is doing it within his personal realm. A god relies on mortals to pursue his/her agenda on the mortal plane... that's why clerics exist, and to a lesser more indirect extent, oracles as well. And mortals are limited as to what they can or should oversee.

If you think of the mortal plane as Indochina, and the deities as contesting superpowers who are constrained from simply taking the nuclear option to a problem, you'd have a good approximation of the situation.

Silver Crusade

Just to clarify, since I think things walked away a bit from what I was saying. I don't believe your average zombie, or skeleton /should/ be evil, I was more expounding on the nature of consumptive undead such as wraiths, vampires, etc as being innately destructive to well, everything.

This is something that average beings aren't. I really don't want to get into an ecology argument, you think paladin threads get derailed? Whoo boy. I still remember a 3 hour long argument at a comic book shop over Captain Planet's alignment and species.

To step aside from the undead though, we're actually discussing theodicy of fictional deities which is something too delicious to pass up.

Why does Pharasma allow for daemons to snitch souls, necromancers to raise dead, and the like. Well regarding the gentle repose thing, the process being halted is decomposition, not death, but thats a quibble. The core of the argument is Pharasma is sitting there in her hall watching the poor petitioner perp sweat on the chance he might get yanked back to reality.

It being a 3rd level spell, or what not doesn't really mean anything. Why does Gorum step in everytime Calm Emotions is cast. Its really neither here nor there, the portfolio of a deity in Pathfinder is his purview, not his very being. Pharasma attends to death the same way a bueracrat attends to paperwork. Eventually she will notice that her form J91 is missing and go looking for it, or even more to the point, raising dead might be the classic 'You're not scheduled to be here for 12 years. Go stand in line b, and have a coffee and you'll be processed back to the mortal coil soon enough, but while here take some time to look at your paperwork, it'll save time for later.'

In a polytheistic situation the theodicy issue doesn't really have asm uch pull, the powers make no claims to being omniscient, omnipotent, or even immortal (they can be killed and die).

As for why negative energy is 'evil,' it kind of isn't, but its definately hungry and more self-destructive. As portrayed, positive energy tends to just grow, but negative energy seems to be built to snuff out and constrain, and therefore its much more of a destructive as opposed to creative aspect. The things it empowers tend more towards evil because they go out and destroy the living, and in most cases have to corrupt living entities to exist. The only beings we have who are 'possibly' pure negative energy beings are the nightshades, and they kind of are...well...EVIL with a capital E. 2e and 3e had the xeg-yi, who were Neutrally aligned pure negative beings and were actually more or less 'leave me alone while I cavort in my energy, mortal' in alignment.


Okay, look. There is a huge level of difference between "mortal magic doing stuff" and "directly contravening divine acts with low-grade spells".

A mortal cannot be expected to win a contest of strength with a god of strength. A mortal cannot raise a dead soul that has been judged by a god of the dead, no matter how powerful the magic. How then can a mortal completely negate said goddess with a lower level spell?

To again put this comparison out there, let's look at, say, trap the soul v. animate dead.

Now, as written, the two don't interact - trap the soul seals the physical body away, but the creature is still alive.

However this is something akin to saying someone can take a gem used in Trap the Soul and use Animate Dead on it to get a free skeleton, regardless of the state of the creature trapped.

That's just goofy.

8th lvl spell v. 3rd lvl spell. Which one should be more potent? Obviously, the 8th. In game, that's supported as well.

The problem isn't that a mortal can do something that displeases a goddess, the problem is that a minor mortal spell can completely contravene a goddess' direct power in its entirety.

This is especially nonsense, when much more powerful spells cannot.

Quench is a great spell, but it's not going to automatically negate incendiary cloud, because we're talking about an order of magnitude and power of difference.

Now increase that power to a greater goddess who's as old as souls and greater-than-ninth-level spells power working for her.

Surely you see the problem with this.


Tacticslion wrote:
The problem isn't that a mortal can do something that displeases a goddess, the problem is that a minor mortal spell can completely contravene a goddess' direct power in its entirety.

Yes, although gods are not absolute enforcers of their domains.

If someone cures a disease, technically that is contravening the direct power of Urgathoa as goddess of disease, but no one expects her to pop up to smite healers. Or for Gorum to go on an angry rampage whenever anyone dares to sign a peace treaty.

It makes no sense for Pharasma to be more diligent than the other gods just because her domain is death.


Check it: Gorum will go away when battles vanish. Ergo, his existence is tied to his portfolio.

What I'm talking about is the fact that her divine power is being directly contravened.

If Gorum or Erastil made a bow, say, and I thought I'd be fine because I've got protection from arrows, I'm not only a moron, but going to get what's coming to me.

But if I tell Pharasma to wait on me instead? No, no, surely that's fine, and doesn't matter at all.

Let's, again, look at it this way: should I be able to use, say, an 8th level wizard to completely destroy a 20th level fighter with 10 mythic tiers in one-on-one combat of the fighter's choice? No. It shouldn't be possible.

Similarly, a mid-level bard shouldn't be able to dispel something cast by a 20th level wizard with various caster-level augmentation boons.

Much more so, you shouldn't be able to defeat a greater deity by slapping it with its own portfolio when its direct divine power is involved.

Pulling a soul from the outer planes and shoving into a rotting cadaver isn't even something happening on the mortal plane - it's directly assaulting heaven, stealing a soul, and negating: 1) archons, 2) lawful and good gods, 3) Pharasma, and 4) all her servitors. This is a direct assault on the plane itself, and makes no sense.

EDIT:

Jeven wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
The problem isn't that a mortal can do something that displeases a goddess, the problem is that a minor mortal spell can completely contravene a goddess' direct power in its entirety.

Yes, although gods are not absolute enforcers of their domains.

If someone cures a disease, technically that is contravening the direct power of Urgathoa as goddess of disease, but no one expects her to pop up to smite healers. Or for Gorum to go on an angry rampage whenever anyone dares to sign a peace treaty.

It makes no sense for Pharasma to be more diligent than the other gods just because her domain is death.

Oh, for goodness sake, no it's not the same thing at all.

Look, guys, curing a disease is the same as raising someone from the dead: the god doesn't necessarily like it, but it's not that big a deal.

But if Urgathoa creates a disease personally, and curses someone with it that's substantially more powerful than normal diseases, and is magical, like, say, lycanthrope or mummy rot, it's a lot different (and far more difficult) to remove than a simple spell.

This isn't the same thing.

It's as if I could use a third level spell to personally prevent Urgathoa from creating a specific undead forever. That's insane! There is no way something like that should exist.

Anyway, I'm dropping this line, because, as you note, Spook, it's off topic.


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The Facets of Fear section you quote from classic horror revisited explains the horror behind the walking dead, specifically why people find them scary and how a GM can emulate that. However, all of that is very much couched in why WE, as people in the real world, use the walking dead in horror.

Just check out the other "Facets of Fear" from this volume. For Hags it discusses the superstitious fear attached to old village women and the male fear of women. That doesn't mean that old village women in Golarion are secretly Hags. For Derros and Ghouls, the literary and real world origins are discussed. These sections are not meant to be interpreted as Golarion cannon, but rather are simply explorations into origins and reasons for certain horror tropes. Other volumes have similar sidebars, for instance Mystery Monsters have sidebars on the actual legends of cryptids in our world.

I will note that nowhere in the actual game text in Classic Horrors revisited is it stated that the undead are made with the souls of the dead, but rather simply they owe there existence to vague necromantic energies.


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Which I'm all for. But there are columns that hold "in game world-view" lore and columns like the one I quoted which is just an author telling us stuff.

Again, I'd love it if that weren't there. I'm not arguing that it's a good thing or needs to be there.

As it stands, however, it's the only element in the game I've seen that gives a credible reason why Animate Dead is evil and creates Evil creatures. Ergo, it's got its own place in the argument.

On the other hand, not counting that... we've got an old guy who, in-game-world is telling us, "it's evil just because it's evil", which, as we've otherwise pointed out is really weak.

With Lemure devils, the only other "evil, though mindless" creature I know of (please, please let me know of more, if you do), there's still sense in the fact that, frankly, it's literally made of lawful evil soul-stuff. It doesn't need a mind because it's the congealed essence of lawful evil behavior in the past... that's where it's alignment comes from.

With undead, we're left with, "Well, they're evil and mindless because... undeath." which may work, but we've been given zero good reasons as to why it should really work that way, except in the column I quoted, which opens up a whole 'nother (and worse) can of worms.

Except, of course, for the White Necromancer and Oracle's Juju Mystery... oh wait, no, let me quote:

d20pfsrd wrote:
Spirit Vessels' ability to create non-evil undead was an oversight, and this behavior is not intended. Gamemasters are encouraged to treat undead created with this ability as having evil alignment.

... as specifically noted, here, by James Jacobs.

So... why?

>> "Because it's unnatural"... so is Golarion's ecosystem (implied Aboleths or related creatures), dwarves (direct act of the gods), humans (Aboleths), elves (they're from another planet), and gnomes (from another reality entirely); I've no idea about Halflings

>> "Because negative energy"... so what about the inflict spells, the energy drain spells, and literally all the other negative energy spells that aren't?

>> "Because they feed on the living"... actually not only do many not feed on the living (or at all), but most all creatures also feed on the living to the same degree.

>> "Because they kill/subvert/alter other living creatures in order to create spawn"... so do we (though usually more indirectly)? As the father of a son I love very much, I've got no illusions about the number of bugs, pests, plants, and other things that die just so he can live. It's a fact of, well, life. Incidentally, however, this isn't unnatural. And it's not entirely unique. (Hey, kids, more incredibly disturbing parasites. Oh, look, another article. How... grand nature is. No, really. So... grand. (Seriously don't look at those if you're squeemish. Ugh.)

>> "Because they're creepy"... well, so is lopping off someone's head with a sword, or shooting them with an arrow, but adventurers do that all the time and that doesn't make them evil. You want to talk creepy? What about someone who can literally change your mind for you. But, you know, that's totally not an evil act. Also, did you see the links above? Ew.

>> "Because you're creating a creature out of negative energy and dead bodies"... but Flesh Golems (which are neutral) involve trapping the spirit of an elemental being (to the best of our knowledge, sentient), sealing it into a mindless shell to do your bidding with little hope of escape, and applying negative energy, but is still somehow a neutral creature (and is, over-all, a neutral act, though the use of Animate Dead still counts as an evil act... for some reason). Incidentally, note the geas spell requirement. Why would that be there, considering it's a mindless creature and immune to mind-affecting effects? It's in the crafting requirements for the first five golems I checked, regardless of their origin, and even though none of them have intelligence. Curious, that.

>> "Because you steal a soul from its final reward"... okay, you've got one, but what about the goddess of the dead and the fact that even ninth level magic isn't otherwise able to contravene her will, final judgement, and direct divine power?

>> "Because we need to be able to smite things"... you still can? And why would you need to deal extra damage to a zombie or skeleton, when you can already ignore it's DR?

So... no really good reasons I'm seeing, so far.

Shadow Lodge

TacticsLion wrote:
With Lemure devils, the only other "evil, though mindless" creature I know of (please, please let me know of more, if you do. . .

The only ones I can think off of the top of my head are the Soulbound Dolls from the Winter Witchs, (literally souls bound into a doll that forms a sort of sentient construct, and tends to turn the soul, and thus the doll evil) and a few corner cases where something corrupts the nonsentient being (Construct), though that's a pretty good reason.


That's a good find, but... those are actually sentient.

Skeletons and zombies on the other hand aren't (though the latter tends to smell bad, from what I understand).

Shadow Lodge

You are right, sorry, it was off the top of my head and I honestly didn't doubel check.


hey I have no argument with the idea that mindless undead are best treated as neutral, since there is a lack of fluff that really explains it.

I just don't think that the "to animate something you steal a soul from the afterlife" is supported in Golarion cannon, nor is Pharasma inconsequential because undead exist.

Shadow Lodge

MMCJawa wrote:
I just don't think that the "to animate something you steal a soul from the afterlife" is supported in Golarion cannon, nor is Pharasma inconsequential because undead exist.

Oddly, the Soulbound Doll says this along those lines: "Stripping a soul fragment from the dead does not prevent the rest of the soul from continuing on to the afterlife, nor does it prevent the body from later being resurrected or raised from the dead."


but note that it says a fragment...and not enough to prevent the soul from being judged by Pharasma


And I'd be all over that, if there was something more solid that went along with that.


It'd be so much better if skeletons and zombies were dealt with as malign and feral creatures akin to demons. It makes zombies and skeletons more interesting and it helps justify the idea that undead actually are evil.


Meh. To me, the question, again, becomes "Why?"


Grimcleaver wrote:
It'd be so much better if skeletons and zombies were dealt with as malign and feral creatures akin to demons. It makes zombies and skeletons more interesting and it helps justify the idea that undead actually are evil.

I think animated skeletons used to guard tombs would be fine for good religions.

In Europe you can visit the Sedlec Ossuary in Czech where the Christian priests made art from the bones. It even has a chandelier and model of a house crafted from human bones (google it for pics). So animating the bones as skeletal guardians in a fantasy world seems fine.

For other types of dead, good ones are best used more like unique exceptions for rpg storytelling. Like the one good vampire in the novel "Queen of the Damned" who struggles to hold onto his humanity. Undead should be naturally inclined to evil, but rare individuals with enough willpower could battle their nature.

You can also have things like good or neutral ghosts who are trapped and need the player's help to be set free. Most ghosts would still be evil though as usually only angry, vengeful spirits rise again, but rare exceptions can make for good storytelling.


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I'm one of the most vocal opponents of the "always evil" sort of thing. I'm a big proponent of mindless undead being Neutral (because it makes sense and makes a mockery of good and evil if otherwise). In all my time discussing this topic (and it stretches back to the WotC boards, Giant in the Playground, Paizo, and in online gaming communities I've been part of) I've seen virtually every argument for evil-only undead you could imagine. I've also seen a rather disheartening number of people try to discredit myself and others by throwing comments like "sparkly vampires" or "why do you want to make all the undead good guys!?" and other such nonsense.

What I do want is for my villains to be evil because they are actually evil. Not because they happen to be powered by different neutral-aligned energy than everyone else. Especially if they cannot even make moral decisions (as in the case of mindless creatures including skeletons and zombies). I use quite a few undead villains in my campaigns. Ghouls, ghasts, mummies, the occasional vampire, and liches. The vast majority of these antagonists are evil. But they are evil because they are very bad people, not because they're undead. The vampire who is effectively immortal and hunts humans like cattle because he can. The ghast who has taken to worshipping an evil god and making blood sacrifices and then eating the victims. The lich who plots domination of everything up to the horizon. The evil mummy who seeks to resurrect an ancient fiend that is worshiped as a god. The point is that all of them are evil because their personalities are in keeping with evil. Not because someone slapped them with a template.

That being said there is a lot of use for neutral or even good undead. As was pointed out, mindless undead are perfect guardians of ancient tombs or places that need to be protected for a very long time. Dropping off some skeleton warriors with orders to drive off any intruders not bearing a specific symbol can mean that a tomb has guards for untold amount of years. Likewise, mummies would fit perfectly as a noble guardian or saint or wise extended ruler.

Dark Archive

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Ashiel wrote:
That being said there is a lot of use for neutral or even good undead. As was pointed out, mindless undead are perfect guardians of ancient tombs or places that need to be protected for a very long time.

Perhaps I'm tainted by having read the Thomas Covenant books as a teen (which were, for the most part, terrible), but I liked the idea that someone (like the Bloodguard, IIRC) could swear an oath of loyalty or service that was powerful enough that it transcended death itself, and that they might end up attempting to fulfill that oath even after the death of their body, either physically animating as some sort of oathbound revenant, or their spirit living on as a ghostly figure, attempting to get others to accomplish whatever task or duty or geas it was incapable of completing in life.

'Ghost stories' about figures that linger on to provide, if not actual assistance, then at least advice and comfort to those left behind, are commonplace, both in real world cultures (where ancestors are more commonly revered and even entreated for advice, approval and favor than reviled and exorcised). In the old Conan movie, the ghost of his girlfriend shows up and blinds a foe with an incorporeal swordstroke. In Star Wars, that crazy old wizard, Ben Kenobi, both through whispered advice and the occasional visual manifestation, provides assistance to Luke. The notion that people who have died, and yet have a powerful sense of duty or compassion, and linger to complete their tasks or advice / defend their loved ones are 'always evil' is both a watering down of the entire concept of alignment, and, more importantly, IMO, limits the ability to tell stories in which a saintly figure (or mentor, or ancestor) can appear and offer advice and counsel, and not just cut loose with the malevolence and possession attempts because their soul turned CE the second their meat hit the ground.


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I <3 you Set. (^.^)

Dark Archive

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Ashiel wrote:
I <3 you Set. (^.^)

I have no idea what that means, being emoticon-illiterate, but right back at you. :)

Sovereign Court Contributor

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Indeed, in regard to what Set says...

Bodhisattvas in Buddhism are like ghosts (and probably had some influence on the Jedi ghosts)...
They are the immortal spirits of those who are close enough to nirvana to break from the cycle of reincarnation, yet out of compassion, remain semi-active in the world instead of the permanently distant consequence of full nirvana (such as achieved by Arhats).
They can appear to devotees, impart magical abilities, and have planar paradises for those who seek a respite from rebirth (i.e., the Pure Land). But their bodies are deceased; in fact normally, they dissolve into ash or air at physical death.
This is quite distinct from the hungry ghosts or pretas, who suffer for their sins by wandering the earth desiring some substance or act yet unable to consume or enact their desire. Yet pretas can be released to rebirth or paradise by the actions of Bodhisattvas.


Set wrote:

'Ghost stories' about figures that linger on to provide, if not actual assistance, then at least advice and comfort to those left behind, are commonplace, both in real world cultures (where ancestors are more commonly revered and even entreated for advice, approval and favor than reviled and exorcised). In the old Conan movie, the ghost of his girlfriend shows up and blinds a foe with an incorporeal swordstroke. In Star Wars, that crazy old wizard, Ben Kenobi, both through whispered advice and the occasional visual manifestation, provides assistance to Luke. The notion that people who have died, and yet have a powerful sense of duty or compassion, and linger to complete their tasks or advice / defend their loved ones are 'always evil' is both a watering down of the entire concept of alignment, and, more importantly, IMO, limits the ability to tell stories in which a saintly figure (or mentor, or ancestor) can appear and offer advice and counsel, and not just cut loose with the malevolence and possession attempts because their soul turned CE the second their meat hit the ground.

Visiting spirits of the dead are quite different from undead though. These spirits have already moved on to the afterlife but sometimes return temporarily to the world to offer guidance - either of their own free will or if summoned by a holy priest (e.g. the legendary Sibyl of Cumae in Italy supposedly had this power).

Undead in the traditional sense are spirits which refuse to move on to the afterlife. So they tend to be wholly malevolent or at the very least angry or vengeful.

Sovereign Court Contributor

Well, Jeven, from a Western/Christian perspective, you are substantially right.

But the opposite is true in Asia.
Ghosts and malevolent spirits are usually forced to remain in the world by their karma.
Those who choose to remain do so to help others.


Tacticslion wrote:
Meh. To me, the question, again, becomes "Why?"

Why what? Why is it evil to bring sick evil creatures into the world? Well if they're portrayed as sick and evil the answer should be apparent. If they're portrayed as automatons then the spell should lose its evil descriptor. With the way the developers seem to want to take Golarion I'd opt for the former--commit to all undead as being really actually evil, at least as evil as an evil aligned non-sentient monster like a yeth hound or a vargouille, then viola--no more problem.


Jeven wrote:

I think animated skeletons used to guard tombs would be fine for good religions.

In Europe you can visit the Sedlec Ossuary in Czech where the Christian priests made art from the bones. It even has a chandelier and model of a house crafted from human bones (google it for pics). So animating the bones as skeletal guardians in a fantasy world seems fine.

For other types of dead, good ones are best used more like unique exceptions for rpg storytelling. Like the one good vampire in the novel "Queen of the Damned" who struggles to hold onto his humanity. Undead should be naturally inclined to evil, but rare individuals with enough willpower could battle their nature.

You can also have things like good or neutral ghosts who are trapped and need the player's help to be set free. Most ghosts would still be evil though as usually only angry, vengeful spirits rise again, but rare exceptions can make for good storytelling.

I think all of that is setting dependant. If in Golarion undead are evil cannibals, then it'd be great to take the setting flavor paintbrush to them to make them feel that way. If there's the occasional Drizzty exception, then it should feel like an exception--so then let's can all the neutral undead and make them into horrible "Hook Mountain style" skeletons & zombies.

Other settings, maybe you drop the whole evil descriptor from making undead or from necromancy entirely, and have undead be a much more diverse crowd--maybe even Ghostwalk style, where they're as diverse as the people they used to be and person-wise not much different at all.

But I think there's gotta' be a choice one way or the other.


I agree with the setting-specific. And looking at it from a Golarion-centric element, I can see your point, and more-or-less agree with it (though that raises the specter of not-feral undead and not-evil undead still exists (much like any creature can have an alignment descriptor differing from the one in the Bestiary).

The thing is, though, I'm okay with - in Golarion - something about undead being evil. I'd just love a reason that wasn't at the cost of weakening of the other parts of the setting.

Also, canonically, they've opted for non-feral undead a few times, so... there's that difficulty.

Still, I see your point. :)

Liberty's Edge

Also, does anybody else think that a necromancy-using society (Whether they be good, neutral or evil) would use chalk as a building material? Because, it is essentially the skeletons of billions and billions of plankton merged and fused together by eons of time, thus it'd probably be really potent when used with Necromantic magic.


Tacticslion wrote:

I agree with the setting-specific. And looking at it from a Golarion-centric element, I can see your point, and more-or-less agree with it (though that raises the specter of not-feral undead and not-evil undead still exists (much like any creature can have an alignment descriptor differing from the one in the Bestiary).

The thing is, though, I'm okay with - in Golarion - something about undead being evil. I'd just love a reason that wasn't at the cost of weakening of the other parts of the setting.

Also, canonically, they've opted for non-feral undead a few times, so... there's that difficulty.

Still, I see your point. :)

Thanks. You bring up an interesting point. It's said that people in Cheliax concider devils not to be monsters--but people--who believe in a system of governance that all right minded people should accept. So fair to say these aren't tongue lagging, blood covered, Exorcist-style devils. They deal fairly, hold a conversation, ask for sugar and lemon in their tea. So is summoning one Evil?

Why?


Depends on if you think fossilized critters can be raised with necromancy

Shadow Lodge

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Grimcleaver wrote:

Thanks. You bring up an interesting point. It's said that people in Cheliax concider devils not to be monsters--but people--who believe in a system of governance that all right minded people should accept. So fair to say these aren't tongue lagging, blood covered, Exorcist-style devils. They deal fairly, hold a conversation, ask for sugar and lemon in their tea. So is summoning one Evil?

Why?

Ask the Hafling slaves, or the many people that survived when their inncent and unaware family's where slaughtered as House Thrune userpted power and raided. :)

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