Alignment of infant Human NPC?


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Dark Archive

His name should clearly be Baron Von Fusslebottom.

Contributor

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I read "If the baby dies, he is evil!" as the smiter then being evil for killing the baby. Admittedly this is a matter of pronoun ambiguity, assuming an indeterminate-gender baby, and also assuming the paladin is male.

I don't have many auto-fall buttons for paladins, but willfully killing a baby is among them.


Rithralas wrote:
No, I am not a monarchist. And I do agree with the premise that Goblin babies are not inherently evil. I also realize that I made a global sweeping and statement implying that they are, but I still maintain that in my game (for the sake of simplicity and in the interest of not bogging down the game in metaphysical discussions regarding morality) are evil. Therefore, to be clear, a Lawful Good cleric does not risk losing favor by smiting the little bastards. ;-)

Can't argue with that :)


Detect Magic wrote:

It might be true that environmental factors shape who we are, but there's also a great deal of neurology involved. Humans evolved a sense of morality, but that doesn't necessarily mean other fantasy races have.

I'd think that the races described as evil (orcs, goblins, drow, etc) are more than just the sum of their upraising. There's also neurology involved. Their brains are just wired differently than our own.

There may be exceptions, but I'd say that goblins (on the whole) are evil. A goblin infant has the potential, and some might say predisposition, towards committing dastardly evil acts. Thus, one might have a basis to ascribe them as evil.

The same might be said of a human infant born with mental illness, or brain damage. Many psychopaths lack the capacity for empathy, or compassion, because of an in-born deficiency.

Some people are born evil; whose to say an entire fantasy race might not be?

Your points have merit, but I just can't get past the idea that a being that has had no chance to make a moral decision can be anything but neutral. YMMV.

(To make a liar out of me, read my previous post where I totally accept it because it's explained from a perspective of GM expediency.)

Also, I'm pretty sure I've read from a completely reliable source (that I have conveniently forgotten) that some in-born deficiencies can be somewhat rectified through experience/learning. Or something. Anyway, I don't buy it :)


The problem with that sort of viewpoint is that words like "good" and "evil" quickly lose their meaning. It's a slippery slope downwards into moral-relativism.


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Detect Magic wrote:

The problem with that sort of viewpoint is that words like "good" and "evil" quickly lose their meaning. It's a slippery slope downwards into moral-relativism.

Not sure who you're directing this response to, but as I was born in the 80s and am thus rather narcissistic, I'll assume it's me...

That's ok. I'm a moral relativist. Despite that, I'm a rather nice human being with a general abhorrence to violence, a wish to be kind, and I work with disabled people despite being qualified for much better paying employment. If I'm at the bottom of a slope, I'm ok with it being slippery :)

Good and evil, I believe, are words that describe how humans feel about actions and things, not about their inherent qualities.


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I would agree that a baby has a Neutral alignment, and by RAW, it would get killed if caught within the area of a holy smite.

However, if I were the GM, I'd take a step back and think about the story I wanted to tell, and have the spell have the effect I wanted for the story in this particular instance.

In other words, if the story is about how the power of good overcomes evil, then no way would a holy smite kill an innocent baby. On the other hand, if the story has the grittier theme that even well-intentioned actions can have dire consequences, then use the RAW interpretation. It all depends on the story you want to tell, and the lesson you want to teach your players.

This goes back to Rule Zero, where the GM has the right to bend or tweak the rules on a case-by-case basis (without necessarily setting precident) to tell the story he or she wants to tell.

Good luck!

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Spook205 wrote:

Is it wrong that this thread makes me want to make some sort of baby evil genius bbeg?

"I am Istalv the Fussy! You have interrupted nappie time, for this, quickened enervation spells!! You will soil your pants in fear as opposed to due to lack of appropriate bowel control! Muahahah!"

"Paladin! Defeat him!"

"I can't! Its a baby!!"

I am Stormegeddon, Dark Overlord of All. You are either Mum, Not Mum, Also Not Mum, or Peasant.


Rithralas wrote:
Darkwolf117 wrote:


Curiosity begs me ask, what's the rationale for it being Good?

So the player can get the spell off and not kill the infant? That's the only rationale I can muster. And all four players agreed that the infant was GOOD and should not be affected by the spell HOLY SMITE. /smh My players are munchkins.

Rules are not laws, and even laws have doctrines that allows them to be broken when a situation is so extreme that it requires doing so (such as the emergency doctrine). They are suggestions. This is the case in every RPG and wargame. Any time a RAW situation leads to absurdity, the players and GM are supposed to intervene and change the situation. If you insist RAW must be followed, play CRPGs. They're a lot faster and easier to run.

Please note your own response that in your world, goblin babies are evil.

Returning to this original point, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the GM interpreting Holy Smite to spare an infant because a god-like intelligence is granting the spell to a mortal agent. The writers obviously never intended the spell to be used for sixth trimester abortions. They never expected the spell to be used in close proximity to a bunch of toddlers. Clerics have long known that they get their spells at the pleasure of an outside source, who is entrusting them with their power and can deny or alter what is given to them freely.

My recommendation is: 1) as the GM, make a ruling. 2) Inform the player before the spell is cast if it is going to nuke a baby. Anything else is being a jerk on the part of the GM. 3) If you do rule that the spell would frag a baby, that is certainly grounds for an alignment violation for any but the worst of evil. 4) Since the RAW creates the absurd image of a cleric casting Holy Smite over a bunch of children and killing them all, this is a good time for the GM to overrule an unexpected consequence of RAW.


littlehewy wrote:
Not sure who you're directing this response to, but as I was born in the 80s and am thus rather narcissistic, I'll assume it's me...

You would be correct in that assumption.

littlehewy wrote:
Good and evil, I believe, are words that describe how humans feel about actions and things, not about their inherent qualities.

I can certainly agree with you that good and evil are constructs of the human mind; their meaning is subjective to our whim. Still, most people agree on what actions and things fall into which category. This is not an accident. Our moral sense is something we all share, save for those whose neurology is off. It is evolved over countless generations. As a social animal, these words carry great significance to us. We can all agree that killing babies is evil. Why is that? There's no relativist answer than can persuade someone into the opinion that such an action is good.

That said, I'm not sure what all we disagree on. And just to be clear, I'm not accusing you of being a bad person, who lacks morals. As you have said, you're a rather nice person (and I have no reason to doubt you).


What was the baby's name?

If it was Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All then clearly he was chaotic neutral or possibly CE.

If he prefers to be called Alfie probably true neutral or CG.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Haladir wrote:

I would agree that a baby has a Neutral alignment, and by RAW, it would get killed if caught within the area of a holy smite.

However, if I were the GM, I'd take a step back and think about the story I wanted to tell, and have the spell have the effect I wanted for the story in this particular instance.

In other words, if the story is about how the power of good overcomes evil, then no way would a holy smite kill an innocent baby. On the other hand, if the story has the grittier theme that even well-intentioned actions can have dire consequences, then use the RAW interpretation. It all depends on the story you want to tell, and the lesson you want to teach your players.

This goes back to Rule Zero, where the GM has the right to bend or tweak the rules on a case-by-case basis (without necessarily setting precident) to tell the story he or she wants to tell.

Good luck!

This, really. A baby is arguably low int and falls into the description of "incapable of morality" meaning it is neutral.

But I would also think about what the god and its caster would want to achieve with the spell. If you're a cleric of a good god of protection or families or healing or what have you, the god may well throw in a divine intervention and protect the babies from the blast radius.

However, were I GM, I might also have the god send the caster a little message: "that could have been far messier. Be more careful, as I do not exist to clean up your mistakes."

As a side note, I really and truly hate alignment based spells. If they failed to exist at all in future iterations of this or similar games, I would be very happy.


Detect Magic wrote:
We can all agree that killing babies is evil. Why is that? There's no relativist answer than can persuade someone into the opinion that such an action is good.

(Bolded bits that enticed me to post this - not arguing, just answering your question)

Well, I am certainly open to the possibility that someone that is not me, who is not from my culture, or era, or species, or planet, or whatever, believes that killing babies is good and has a valid reason (from their perspective). For example, do you believe killing ants is evil? Who's to say that aliens that view us as ants wouldn't have a reason to come down some day and kill our babies?

We view killing babies as evil because we're human, and we think humans are cool (ie we want our species to survive). It's that simple. Our morality is completely human-centric, because it's good for our species.

And let's be frank, there's been some fairly rabid genocide in human history, where the killing of babies was considered the good thing to do...

Quote:
That said, I'm not sure what all we disagree on. And just to be clear, I'm not accusing you of being a bad person, who lacks morals. As you have said, you're a rather nice person (and I have no reason to doubt you).

Nah, I just perked up at the phrase about it being a "slippery slope into relativistic morality", and couldn't help myself :) Just shootin' the breeze...


littlehewy wrote:
Well, I am certainly open to the possibility that someone that is not me, who is not from my culture, or era, or species, or planet, or whatever, believes that killing babies is good and has a valid reason (from their perspective). For example, do you believe killing ants is evil? Who's to say that aliens that view us as ants wouldn't have a reason to come down some day and kill our babies?

I, like the philosopher Sam Harris, believe our moral obligation to other creatures is based upon their level of consciousness. Conscious creatures have a capacity for happiness and for suffering, and are thus morally relevant to us. Ants are on the low spectrum, in this regard (and are thus a low-priority). Humans, chimps, and other relatively advanced organisms on the other hand are much more highly prioritized.

Thus, I would not feel guilty in the least if I killed an ant, but would feel profoundly guilty were I to cause the death of a human child.

I would hope that an alien species capable of space travel would have evolved similarly to us, and thus have a similar sense of morality. If that is not the case and we ever encounter them... haha, we're ffff---

littlehewy wrote:
We view killing babies as evil because we're human, and we think humans are cool (ie we want our species to survive). It's that simple. Our morality is completely human-centric, because it's good for our species.

Explain PETA :P

littlehewy wrote:
And let's be frank, there's been some fairly rabid genocide in human history, where the killing of babies was considered the good thing to do...

And they were convinced to do these things against their morality. Other ideologies or societal pressures were in play which convinced them to do so (nationalism, religion, etc). Often times these people were keenly aware that what they were doing was wrong. For further proof of this look to wartime veterans, many of whom suffer from terrible post traumatic stress and guilt.


Detect Magic wrote:

I, like the philosopher Sam Harris, believe our moral obligation to other creatures is based upon their level of consciousness. Conscious creatures have a capacity for happiness and for suffering, and are thus morally relevant to us. Ants are on the low spectrum, in this regard (and are thus a low-priority). Humans, chimps, and other relatively advanced organisms on the other hand are much more highly prioritized.

Thus, I would not feel guilty in the least if I killed an ant, but would feel profoundly guilty were I to cause the death of a human child.

Hmmm. What about sheep, and their cute little babies, lambs? We eat them, right? Ever heard the sound of a little lamb in pain? There's definitely suffering going on there, and I don't buy that their lower level of consciousness makes them any less susceptible to it. You and I may not slaughter them ourselves, but we allow it to happen. We wouldn't let baby humans be slaughtered though...

Quote:
I would hope that an alien species capable of space travel would have evolved similarly to us, and thus have a similar sense of morality. If that is not the case and we ever encounter them... haha, we're ffff---

I hope we never encounter them :)

Quote:
littlehewy wrote:
We view killing babies as evil because we're human, and we think humans are cool (ie we want our species to survive). It's that simple. Our morality is completely human-centric, because it's good for our species.
Explain PETA :P

I think PETA's well and truly offset by the overwhelming majority of humans that don't give much of a crap about animals in general. We all eat animals. We don't all eat babies. Well, I kinda hope none of us eat babies :)

Honestly, I see humans that do care about animals enough to act upon it as very much related to the way we have pets - it's an extension of the consideration and care we show to other humans because of our morality. Let's be honest, mammals get most of our affection, because we're mammals. My mother has a pet sheep that she cares for a great deal, but she still eats lamb chops. She had me too, but she doesn't eat babies.

Quote:
littlehewy wrote:
And let's be frank, there's been some fairly rabid genocide in human history, where the killing of babies was considered the good thing to do...
And they were convinced to do these things against their morality. Other ideologies or societal pressures were in play which convinced them to do so (nationalism, religion, etc). Often times these people were keenly aware that what they were doing was wrong. For further proof of this look to wartime veterans, many of whom suffer from terrible post traumatic stress and guilt.

Are you sure that they were all convinced to do that stuff even though, or despite that, they believed it was evil?

A weak riposte, that last one, but it's all I got :)

Edit: And don't let the riposte remark fool you into thinking I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I actually believe what I'm arguing, I'm not just stirring the pot. But I am enjoying the waffle too :)


Disregard for the well-being, wishes, and right of others, with no definitive rationale behind it? Chaotic evil.


Babies are neutral, unless, as raised earlier, in this game world or according to the tenets of the faith in question they are NOT neutral after being baptized (presumably many would then slide downward with age).

However...was this baby being held? Or was it on the ground or low bed? Was there a ceiling and if so, how high was it?

I ask because it seems at least possible in some circumstances to place a Holy Smite high enough to hit a standing villain of Medium size and miss an infant of Tiny size.

BTW, someone earlier using inductive logic came to the conclusion that Holy Smite should not hurt babies because it would be ridiculous for it to cause late term abortions. That at least is not a concern. It wouldn't harm them at all, as there is no line of effect.

The Exchange

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Disregard for the well-being, wishes, and right of others, with no definitive rationale behind it? Chaotic evil.

Negative. To be CE, you would have to have bias. Infants do not as far as I can tell.


littlehewy wrote:
My mother has a pet sheep that she cares for a great deal, but she still eats lamb chops.

That's creepy.

littlehewy wrote:
I actually believe what I'm arguing, I'm not just stirring the pot. But I am enjoying the waffle too :)

I love your little figures of speech.


Rithralas wrote:
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Disregard for the well-being, wishes, and right of others, with no definitive rationale behind it? Chaotic evil.
Negative. To be CE, you would have to have bias. Infants do not as far as I can tell.

Yes, they do.

http://www.cracked.com/article_18404_6-shockingly-evil-things-babies-are-ca pable-of.html

Lies
"It seems crazy that a barely functioning human infant could be cunning enough to lie to get out of trouble, but it's true. Baby You was such an "jerk "that you started lying before you could even speak. Scientists have found that by the age of just six months mini-you was already "fake crying" and "pretend laughing" to get attention. Babies are so good at that lie they will even pause briefly and listen to see if someone is responding to their crocodile tears before starting up again.
Perhaps even more surprising is that, when they know they've done something wrong, the little bastards will distract their parents to avoid getting caught. Crying for attention isn't so terrible, because receiving positive attention makes you feel good. But causing a distraction? That means the slimy, shrieking baby knows it has done something wrong and wants to cover up for it. Before they learn how to poop without assistance, babies know how to create an alibi."

Prejudice:
"It's not a mystery why you treat attractive people well now: You want them to have your sex. There'd be no reason to discriminate against ugly chicks when you where a baby right? Wrong. It turns out you've been favoring hotties since the doctor smacked you. In a 2004 study in the field of weird-stuff-we-can-make-babies-do, a UK scientist made several babies look at two pictures. One of those pictures was of an attractive woman, and the other was of a non-attractive woman. Out of these babies (all of seven-days old, max), almost 100 percent looked significantly longer at pictures of "attractive" people than "unattractive" people.

But it doesn't end there. In those first months, babies would look at an attractive person of another race for just as long as an equally hot person of their race. But within a few short months, even if shown a supermodel of a different skin color, the baby would ignore her completely. If a white baby was shown two pictures of Asian people, of any level of attractiveness, the baby would look at them the same amount of time, then get bored and look away. To that white baby, Asian people all look alike. Seriously"

I'll stop and you can just read the link.

But Babies are biased.

The Exchange

Zog of Deadwood wrote:

Babies are neutral, unless, as raised earlier, in this game world or according to the tenets of the faith in question they are NOT neutral after being baptized (presumably many would then slide downward with age).

However...was this baby being held? Or was it on the ground or low bed? Was there a ceiling and if so, how high was it?

I ask because it seems at least possible in some circumstances to place a Holy Smite high enough to hit a standing villain of Medium size and miss an infant of Tiny size.

BTW, someone earlier using inductive logic, came to the conclusion that Holy Smite should not hurt babies because it would be ridiculous for it to cause late term abortions. That at least is not a concern. It wouldn't harm them at all, as there is no line of effect.

The infant was in the same 5 foot square, lying on the floor. But, I think the intent of the games rules are fairly clear in that if it affects one person in a 5 foot square, it affects everything in that same square. These rulings where "I place the spell just so it affects him from the nose up, thereby saving the baby he is cradling in his arms" is stretching the intent and making things overly complicated. That's just me.


Just to settle the argument about someone thinking it's a good thing to kill babies...

I think an argument could be made that if you had a time machine, then going back and killing certain people as infants might possibly be construed as a good thing (jack the ripper, genghis kahn, insert your favorite mass murderer).

And yes, I am avoiding the internet meme by not mentioning the more famous baby victim for this mental thought exercise.


Detect Magic wrote:
littlehewy wrote:
My mother has a pet sheep that she cares for a great deal, but she still eats lamb chops.

That's creepy.

littlehewy wrote:
I actually believe what I'm arguing, I'm not just stirring the pot. But I am enjoying the waffle too :)

I love your little figures of speech.

Lol I'm an Aussie. We talks funny.

News just in! Animals have morals (probably) too!

Probably may be an overstatement. But, as it strengthens my previously-held beliefs..!


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Rithralas wrote:

No, I am not a monarchist. And I do agree with the premise that Goblin babies are not inherently evil. I also realize that I made a global sweeping and statement implying that they are, but I still maintain that in my game (for the sake of simplicity and in the interest of not bogging down the game in metaphysical discussions regarding morality) are evil. Therefore, to be clear, a Lawful Good cleric does not risk losing favor by smiting the little bastards. ;-)

Now, having said that, this thread does not question the alignment of goblin babies, and I'm really not interested in discussing that issue any further.

Let me put things into context as they happened in game:

BBEG is taking innocent babies from poor/delusional/misguided villagers under the guise that he is holy and performing good. The villagers willingly give the children to him because they have been fooled and believe they are doing the right thing. Enter the PCs.....who know the evil, nefarious plans of the BBEG and are completely aware of the situation. PCs encounter BBEG with an infant. Any rational person would immediatley assume that the infant is innocent and should be protected. Cleric PC spams HOLY SMITE anyway, claiming "If the baby dies, he is evil!". Paladin in group says nothing and lets it happen because PLAYERS say that infant human NPC's with Neutral aligned parents are GOOD and should not be affected.

/smh

So you don't want to bog your game down in a discussion of morality, then you created a campaign where babies are lying around the enemy.


That's a very good point, johnlocke90.


Personally, when the cleric says 'it shouldn't kill the baby, because the baby is good' or whatever, I feel its then the DMs case to say 'we can argue the morality of babies later. in my world, they are neutral, and as a cleric, you'd know that. Would you like a do-over on your action, seeing as how that wasn't understood?'

Dark Archive

Spoiler:
Is this the Carrion Crown AP? There is a part in there I believe that has the BBEG kidnap a baby.

Anyhow, your cleric and paladin are playing under assumption that the deity will decide if the infant is good or not.

Anyhow, I'm under the assumption that it's neutral. A 6 month old human baby is barely aware of it's surroundings. It however has bias, it has persons it likes (those that have been taking care of it the last 6 months) and it has persons it does not like (those that it barely saw in the last 6 months). It'll start crying when group 2 holds it. There are enough articles on baby and mother sites that tell you the whole psychological development of babies.

Anyhow, they're laying the descission at your feet so they can play sociopath. This is no different than priests doing the old fashioned throw a witch into a pond gimmick.

I however see a flaw with the logic of the cleric.
A baby has no HD ==> Aura does not register as evil so the cleric can not know if it's evil or not. He does not know how it will affect the infant. Secondly, what would stop the cleric of smiting everyone in the village to root out all evil commoners that pose no threat.

I also would like to see the conversation the cleric has with the N parents that hoped to see their child again. Your child has been slain, but do not cry for it was an evil infant and no uprising you would give could have swayed it from it's evil, homicidal tyrannical path! You should now donate to the church as to give thanks for saving you from being parents to evil baby X

Would you think your cleric justify smiting the following person:
Poor Dave the LE 4hp cowardly peasant, sitting at home eating his humble stew that he cooked himself cause he can't find a wife due to being ugly and the laughing stock of his community. When not working the fields to pay his taxes he sits at home daydreaming on how he would stab the women that laugh with him. He hates children, and on occasion he might have pushed one over that stood in his way. He is treated as an outcast so he daydreams on the day that every other farmer's crops fails so he can sell them his crops for such a price as to bankrupt them all. Oh how sweet that day will be. Since however he is a coward, brooding on make belief revenge plans is all he does.


Detect Magic wrote:
Explain PETA :P

Not even PETA can explain PETA.

They take terms like "wackadoodle" and wear them like badges of pride.


A group of commoners devoted to the liberation of animals, modeled after PETA, would make for a fun, comedic antagonist to a party of adventurers entering a town wearing animal-pelts.

The group (maybe led by a low-level druid) follows the party around, yelling at them and attempting to sabotage their efforts. They go so far as to buy out all the meat in town, forcing the local taverns to sell only vegetable products. Ultimately harmless, but incredibly annoying.

What is a party of adventurers to do? XD

Annoying Commoner, of the Animal-Liberation-Front wrote:
ANIMAL KILLER! I bet you eat lots of meat!


Detect Magic wrote:

A group of commoners devoted to the liberation of animals, modeled after PETA, would make for a fun, comedic antagonist to a party of adventurers entering a town wearing animal-pelts.

The group (maybe led by a low-level druid) follow the party around, yelling at them and attempting to sabotage their efforts. Ultimately harmless, but incredibly annoying.

What is a party of adventurers to do? XD

Kill. Animate Dead. Command zombies to murder animals.


Wow, I can't believe where this has all gone.

In most of the literature and movies I have had the pleasure of consuming, babies are the shinning star of good; unless of course it is a horror movie.

And to say babies are not intelligent is just dumb. Of course they are intelligent, they just don't know anything yet, the two are completely different. Otherwise the baby would develop into what we consider a normal person today. There isn't just a switch that hits at a certain age that says. "OH, me smart now!"

I would rule the baby as good. It is the only thing that makes sense to me as good stories go. I can clearly imagine a movie scene where this is happening and the spell only affect the BBEG because the baby is PURE and GOOD and free from SIN. All these are popular themes in modern stories.

Now, to the rules. If the DM warned the players that it wouldn't be a good idea because the baby is neutral, than that was a bad move on the player's part. While I would have argued that the baby was good before taking those actions, I would have changed those actions if I could not convince the DM.

YMMV

Silver Crusade

Intelligent in the above seems to be more along the lines of 'moral actor.'

Even some religions used to have the idea of an 'age of reason' prior to which the moral actions of the child weren't held to be really morally 'culpable,' based on the aforementioned lack of real life experience.

I'd consider it an issue for the deity though, depending on the DM.

I'd actually impose that its impossible for divine magic to really operate cross-purposes to the divinity's intention as its his power being directed. If you think the power is 'loaned' out and belongs to the cleric, you might disagree.

RAW is always a bad arbiter for 'how things should work,' though for this precise reason.

Its important to note, running through a village calling down holy fire to determine 'the worthy,' is not a good act. Roasting the aforementioned jerk who lives by himself and dreams fruitlessly of people's downfall is evil, but he hasn't done something worthy of being erradicated. In fact he's the kind of guy a cleric should try to help.

I'd actually give a child a state of being unaffected by holy smite, although I'd still apply Dictum, word of chaos and its unholy equivalent because pure law, chaos and evil tend to be the kind of jerks who apply to 'well, he hits my categories' more so then good.

But, that'd be my ruling as a DM.

By RAW, kid's gonna fry as he's probably neutral.


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Babies are neutral. Easiest call ever. Most people, really, are neutral along both axes. Good and Evil (and for that matter, Law and Chaos) only kick in for people who are really actively acting in those fashions a majority of the time.

More importantly though, this isn't a baby alignment discussion here. This is your players are munchkins who are trying to use Holy Smite in ways it is not intended. That's not an "only hurt the bad guys!" spell. That's a big ol' nasty damage spell which as an added perk (or drawback in certain cases) won't hurt people of a certain alignment. Unless you have firmly established beforehand that a particular person in the blast radius is good (i.e. with the detect good spell, or having spent enough time with them to really get to know how they tick), you should be assuming that person is a valid target.

That said, if I were running this, and a PC tried to cast it under these conditions, I would never say "OK, dead baby." I'd explain what I just explained here to them and ask if they were sure that was still what they wanted to do.

Liberty's Edge

I'm in the "human baby is neutral" camp. Regardless, this is where in-game mechanics come in, suck as Knowledge Skills, Spellcraft, and divinination magic, including detect evil. Holy Smite affects not only evil creatures, but neutral ones as well. Depending on your style of gaming, the caster either knows this or has the chance to know it via and appropriate skill check.

Worst case scenario, make a ruling on how infant alignment works, with the caveat that the ruling might change in the future if you change your mind, and give the relevant characters appropriate knowledge through Kn (religion) or whatever you view as the appropriate skill. The players can argue all they want, but in the game there is a fact about this, and that fact is known by some of the characters.

Assistant Software Developer

I removed a post. This is not the place.


I vote for N/A. Or CE. Either way.


Detect Magic wrote:

A group of commoners devoted to the liberation of animals, modeled after PETA, would make for a fun, comedic antagonist to a party of adventurers entering a town wearing animal-pelts.

The group (maybe led by a low-level druid) follows the party around, yelling at them and attempting to sabotage their efforts. They go so far as to buy out all the meat in town, forcing the local taverns to sell only vegetable products. Ultimately harmless, but incredibly annoying.

What is a party of adventurers to do? XD

Annoying Commoner, of the Animal-Liberation-Front wrote:
ANIMAL KILLER! I bet you eat lots of meat!

I ran a short game involving the 'Bacon Liberation Front', a clan of wereboars that were trying to liberate their brethren from nearby pig farms.

It was very silly.


Rithralas wrote:

Let me put things into context as they happened in game:

BBEG is taking innocent babies from poor/delusional/misguided villagers under the guise that he is holy and performing good. The villagers willingly give the children to him because they have been fooled and believe they are doing the right thing. Enter the PCs.....who know the evil, nefarious plans of the BBEG and are completely aware of the situation. PCs encounter BBEG with an infant. Any rational person would immediatley assume that the infant is innocent and should be protected. Cleric PC spams HOLY SMITE anyway, claiming "If the baby dies, he is evil!". Paladin in group says nothing and lets it happen because PLAYERS say that infant human NPC's with Neutral aligned parents are GOOD and should not be affected.

/smh

I missed this bit of clarification. Your players are amoral monsters who knew exactly what they were doing, apparently. Time for some Serious Talk about how good characters are supposed to act I'd think.


Neutral unless the baby has celestial or infernal qualities. Toddlers smiting evil would be awesome.

Shadow Lodge

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Komoda wrote:

In most of the literature and movies I have had the pleasure of consuming, babies are the shinning star of good; unless of course it is a horror movie.

And to say babies are not intelligent is just dumb. Of course they are intelligent, they just don't know anything yet, the two are completely different. Otherwise the baby would develop into what we consider a normal person today. There isn't just a switch that hits at a certain age that says. "OH, me smart now!"

I would rule the baby as good. It is the only thing that makes sense to me as good stories go. I can clearly imagine a movie scene where this is happening and the spell only affect the BBEG because the baby is PURE and GOOD and free from SIN. All these are popular themes in modern stories.

Which makes sense, if you definition of "good" is "free from evil/sin." However, many people define good as being something more active, involving compassion and the desire to help others even at cost to yourself. A baby, however pure and innocent, doesn't qualify for that.

Komoda wrote:
Now, to the rules. If the DM warned the players that it wouldn't be a good idea because the baby is neutral, than that was a bad move on the player's part. While I would have argued that the baby was good before taking those actions, I would have changed those actions if I could not convince the DM.

Agreed. GM warning about how the spell would work would be appropriate in this situation, before the spell was actually cast. A cleric of a good god would absolutely know whether such a spell could harm bystanders, especially children.

Googleshng wrote:
I missed this bit of clarification. Your players are amoral monsters who knew exactly what they were doing, apparently. Time for some Serious Talk about how good characters are supposed to act I'd think.

I think that's making too many assumptions based on a very brief description. The cleric's statement that "If the baby dies, he is evil!" would be interpreted in one of two ways.

1) Holy Smite won't harm an innocent child (which is as several posters pointed out is an understandable assumption, even if against RAW)

2) If the child is harmed by Holy Smite they are evil and thus it's a nonevil act to kill them. I personally disagree with this position, but the OP stated earlier in his thread that monstrous babies are evil and that smiting them is acceptable for a good cleric, so this is attitude is reasonable given the assumptions of the campaign (although it misses the fact that neutral creatures are also harmed by the spell).

Silver Crusade

Detect Magic wrote:

The problem with that sort of viewpoint is that words like "good" and "evil" quickly lose their meaning. It's a slippery slope downwards into moral-relativism.

(if this is in response to "not digging the idea of babies being born evil)

I feel the opposite of this I think. If people can be evil/damned or good simply because of an accident of birth, that's when Good and Evil start to lose their meaning to me; when it leads to thinks like Good having an all-clear for baby murder, and Good and Evil start feeling less like Good and Evil and more like Red vs. Blue. They need to mean something more than that.

I just don't like the idea* that if one doesn't want to have a setting with Good-sanctioned baby murderin' that they can't have a world with definite Good and Evil.

*not saying that's what you were expressing(especially if the ooc "if" case was off the mark) but it is something that's been shouted as gospel and the One True Way more than once here.

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
I don't have many auto-fall buttons for paladins, but willfully killing a baby is among them.

Werd. I wouldn't feel too comfortable playing Good with a GM that held otherwise, considering all the ways things can(and have) gone bad in-game.

Contributor

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While there is an obvious appeal to decreeing "The power of raw Goodness doesn't kill babies," the trouble with this is figuring out what mechanism accomplishes this feat.

One is that the god and/or raw force of Goodness that granted the Holy Smite ability looks down from the clouds every time the Holy Smite button is pushed and micromanages the damage so innocent albeit neutral babies aren't smacked in the process.

The trouble with this approach is twofold. First, if the god or Goodness itself is peering down from the clouds to micromanage things, why doesn't he, she, or it just squash the evildoer into paste with a precision Smite and save everyone the bother? Yes, there's game mechanics, but if you're saying that the god and/or Goodness is actively watching, then they're actively watching, and you might as well skip to divine intervention.

The second is the problem of "What's so special about a baby?" So the Holy Smite miraculously doesn't touch the neutral but innocent baby. What about the baby's equally neutral but innocent teenage sister? Does she get Holy Smited to death? And if she does, what happens when you line up, say, the Von Trapp family children (who for purposes of this example we'll assume are all neutral) and blow a Holy Smite at them. Who dies and who doesn't? At what age do the powers of Goodness decide that melting off an innocent neutral person's face is not such a bad thing?

The other related approach is to posit some force of "innocence" that shields the neutral-but-non-evil babies, children, and simpletons who've yet to encounter or comprehend true evil. This doesn't require direct micromanagement of Goodness and has folklore going for it too, but should also have the drawbacks of folklore as well. For example, if there is some Ark of the Covenant that the forces of evil and even their usual neutral pawns can't touch for fear of having their faces melted off, it would make sense to have some hag tart herself up as a sweet granny and ask Hansel and Gretel to go fetch her "old hope chest" which she can't pick up because her arthritis is so bad.

Then there's also just the question of what sort of story you're wanting to tell. If you don't want to have babies being specially protected, but you don't want to have the forces of evil be especially incompetent either, the easiest trick is to just have all the babies be "Sir Not Appearing in this Picture" and have the potential innocent victims all be of voting age.


Mikaze wrote:
Detect Magic wrote:

The problem with that sort of viewpoint is that words like "good" and "evil" quickly lose their meaning. It's a slippery slope downwards into moral-relativism.

(if this is in response to "not digging the idea of babies being born evil)

It was a response to littlehewy's comment:

"Your points have merit, but I just can't get past the idea that a being that has had no chance to make a moral decision can be anything but neutral."

The point I was trying to make was that a being that has had no chance to make a moral decision, but has continually acted without regard for life, is evil (in so far as we choose to define the word).

Obviously this excludes babies, but what about psychotic murderers that cannot comprehend the consequences of their actions? Are they not to be held responsible for their actions? Are they somehow not evil?

If you submit that the psychotic murderer is not evil, then what is?

Granted, a "sane" murderer is more evil in my opinion (and not to mention a heck of a lot scarier).

All of these things are even more relevant in a setting like Golarion where things like "good" and "evil" are not subjective, but rather real forces of the cosmos.

Mikaze wrote:
I feel the opposite of this I think. If people can be evil/damned or good simply because of an accident of birth, that's when Good and Evil start to lose their meaning to me; when it leads to thinks like Good having an all-clear for baby murder, and Good and Evil start feeling less like Good and Evil and more like Red vs. Blue. They need to mean something more than that.

I'm not sure what I believe to be the case (in regards to the goblin infant's alignment). That's why it's fun to talk about.

On one hand, it is innocent. It hasn't committed any acts of evil. Not a single one. And yet, it is a goblin. Goblins are described as evil. If we are to assume that they are not merely a product of their environment, and have some sort of genetic predisposition towards violence, then we most consider whether they might be born evil. It's an interesting postulation.

Perhaps their brains are wired differently than our own. Perhaps if you raised them someplace else, removed from goblin society, you'd see some of the same patterns reemerge (chaotic tendencies, lack of judgment, sadism, etc). The same might be said of other traditionally "evil" races. An orc child raised amongst another race and culture might demonstrate the same sort of brutish behavior for which its race is known; this might just be the orc's nature.

All of these things considered, I'm not condemning all of the members of these races as irredeemably evil. In spite of everything I've said, I think there's a chance for each member of these races to rise above their racial heritage. They might be that 1 out of a 1,000,000.

Hell, I love playing characters against their racial profile. I've played numerous goblin characters. Often times these characters were demonstrably more good than the other party members. For example, there was this one instance where my CG goblin wizard tried to convince a group of marauding goblins to lay down their weapons and surrender. When they refused, he began casting color spray to knock them out, moving from one cluster of goblins to the next, systematically rendering them unconscious (so as to imprison them). When he had successfully dealt with them all he turned around to notice his party members walking around and executing the helpless goblins. My character was outraged! As a player, I face-palmed.

Response to bolded bit: Maybe "good" characters shouldn't go around killing everything that's "evil." Like you said, it sort of turns into "Red" vs. "Blue" if they do. I submit to you that "good" characters should be held to a higher standard than their "evil" counterparts, especially when it comes to slaughtering babies (something I've never and will never include in any of my games; it's just not the story I want to tell, nor something I'd enjoy playing through).

Lantern Lodge

Is it possible to give an NPC (example the baby here) ALL Alignments?


Secane wrote:
Is it possible to give an NPC (example the baby here) ALL Alignments?

Maybe just make it unaligned, effectively having no alignment at all. You could do the same for other unintelligent creatures, like animals.

The Exchange

RAW states "all creatures have an alignment". And it just so happens that NEUTRAL suits an infant perfectly. For purposes of determining spell effects, this has to be in place.

Likewise, the cleric (player and character) has to know that the spells they cast have an affect on specific alignments and should act accordingly. To my way of thinking, it really is that simple. If in doubt, don't cast it....do something else instead.

For the record, my player knew that there was a chance of killing the infant. I warned him just after he said he was going to cast the spell. He did it anyway.


Darkwolf117 wrote:
Not wanting to kill a baby is all well and good.

I think this is a "key-factor" in the discussion. I agree with the fact that a baby is true-neutral like an animal, but killing a baby, or a pup or anything innocent that proves no harm would be evil.

So for the sake of storytelling I would say that a baby is true-neutral for effects that does not harm the "innocent creature" for he is not good yet, but should be considered "good" due to its innocence for effects that harm or hinder. ie:you can't use detect good to find a baby nor strike it down with effects made to protect good creatures by destroying evil/neutral ones.


Blackish Dragonoid wrote:
Darkwolf117 wrote:
Not wanting to kill a baby is all well and good.

I think this is a "key-factor" in the discussion. I agree with the fact that a baby is true-neutral like an animal, but killing a baby, or a pup or anything innocent that proves no harm would be evil.

So for the sake of storytelling I would say that a baby is true-neutral for effects that does not harm the "innocent creature" for he is not good yet, but should be considered "good" due to its innocence for effects that harm or hinder. ie:you can't use detect good to find a baby nor strike it down with effects made to protect good creatures by destroying evil/neutral ones.

You could just as well rule that PCs are incapable of harming babies. Simpler rule.

@OP: Depending on your party level, you could have the baby die and have the PC buy a Raise Dead for the baby. Death is more a gold sink than anything else in pathfinder.


Rithralas wrote:
Zog of Deadwood wrote:

Babies are neutral, unless, as raised earlier, in this game world or according to the tenets of the faith in question they are NOT neutral after being baptized (presumably many would then slide downward with age).

However...was this baby being held? Or was it on the ground or low bed? Was there a ceiling and if so, how high was it?

I ask because it seems at least possible in some circumstances to place a Holy Smite high enough to hit a standing villain of Medium size and miss an infant of Tiny size.

BTW, someone earlier using inductive logic, came to the conclusion that Holy Smite should not hurt babies because it would be ridiculous for it to cause late term abortions. That at least is not a concern. It wouldn't harm them at all, as there is no line of effect.

The infant was in the same 5 foot square, lying on the floor. But, I think the intent of the games rules are fairly clear in that if it affects one person in a 5 foot square, it affects everything in that same square. These rulings where "I place the spell just so it affects him from the nose up, thereby saving the baby he is cradling in his arms" is stretching the intent and making things overly complicated. That's just me.

Holy Smite is a 20 foot burst: a sphere, not a disc. Ergo, it is quite possible to aim the centre in mid-air so that it does not affect the 5' cube near the floor. Since your average human is over 5 foot tall, he'd be creamed while the baby on the floor was unaffected.

So, in my campaign, while the baby, being NN, would certainly be toasted by a Holy Smite, the cleric could easily aim the effect so as to avoid hitting the baby (assuming no ceilings etc getting in the way). Same for a wizard casting fireball.

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