When does Chaotic Neutral become evil


Advice

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As others have said, motive and previous actions should be taken into consideration.
I never liked the alignment system much. People tend to think you should be a paragon of your alignment.

I once played with a player that had their character worship a god of freedom. He would never take prisoners because it was a serious offense to deny someone elses freedom and felt that death was the more merciful option... That or letting them go if the situation allowed. Anyway his actions could and were, sometimes viewed as evil.


Has the goblin babies scenario been brought up? That can be a good act considering the potential for future evil. Given that reasoning, if letting them live would lead to future evil then that, too, can be good.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

When does Chaotic Neutral become Evil?

When the GM decides to arbitrarily deem it so. ;)

For instance: A chaotic neutral Gnome chooses to put the goblin babies in a sack with rocks in it and drop it over the side of Thistletop. You could immediately slap her with Chaotic Evil, but recall a couple things: gnomes are frequent targets of goblins who will cook and eat them, goblin children are raised in horrific environments so that unless they are a newborn infant they already have fought and struggled to survive and realize "my success depends on my brother sand sisters being weaker than me and/or my killing and eating them," and just leaving them to starve in the nursery is a cruel and horrific fate.

So in fact it was an act of mercy. Well, according to one GM, while another will say "NO! EVIL!" and hit her with a CE alignment that immediately pings on a Paladin's evil radar because baby-killers are the worse.

One action does not make or break a character. And heck, take a character with a moral code of "do not leave any enemies alive" and goes around committing coup de grace on all foes after a fight has ended. He's LN. He's murdering surrendered prisoners. But that is a part of his moral code and not following that code is, to him, an evil act.

Alignment is a handy initial method of knowing how your character may act. But ultimately it is a straitjacket most wise GMs toss to one side to allow players and their characters to thrive in a more responsible and realistic environment. (And as for spells that depend on Alignment, like Unholy Word, Protection from Good, or the like? Alter them so they affect foes. A Protection spell is against all, not just good or evil. Unholy Word is actually Holy Word but set against that priest's foes. And so forth.


Doomed Hero wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Doomed Hero wrote:
It seems common to think that Chaotic Neutral characters can't or don't have a moral code. This is wrong. Often, a self-imposed moral code is the one thing that keeps a Chaotic Neutral character from being Evil.
Strict personal code falls under lawful though, I thought.
A common misnomer. Having a personal code doesn't make you lawful. Robin Hood had a personal code. You think he was lawful?

I think I can see why.

Lawful Neutral alignment wrote:
A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her.

Robin's been around for years. Depending on his age, incarnation, and the decade, he could be a lot of different alignments. Can we determine the Tick's alignment instead?


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MrSin wrote:
Doomed Hero wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Doomed Hero wrote:
It seems common to think that Chaotic Neutral characters can't or don't have a moral code. This is wrong. Often, a self-imposed moral code is the one thing that keeps a Chaotic Neutral character from being Evil.
Strict personal code falls under lawful though, I thought.
A common misnomer. Having a personal code doesn't make you lawful. Robin Hood had a personal code. You think he was lawful?

I think I can see why.

Lawful Neutral alignment wrote:
A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her.
Robin's been around for years. Depending on his age, incarnation, and the decade, he could be a lot of different alignments. Can we determine the Tick's alignment instead?

I believe the original Tick is not morally competent, not responsible for his actions, and therefore true neutral. My understanding is that the animated version has the actual symptoms of schizophrenia (not to be confused with dissociative personality disorder) toned down or removed so as to be suitable for children. I would guess he would have been slotted into CG or CN depending on just how much the network that financed the animated version worried about the fiscal ramifications of pissing off the moral guardians.

The alignment system has a bunch of deep seated problems.
1) It's a square. Since dedication to law impedes your ability to be good or evil without limit LG should not be as good as NG, nor LE as evil as NE. Printing the diagram as a square creates pervasive perceptual issues.
2) The distribution of paragon classes has never really been equal. Originally there was the LG paladin and the NG ranger and chaos got no respect. Then the ranger lost his restrictions and I think the antipaladin may have made it to a core product at some point, but Paladin has always been core and the CG and LE paragon classes not. I don't think there's been a neutral paragon class since the ranger lost its NG restriction. (This is why the way the chart is shaped matters: it influences the way other designers think about it.)
3) Law and Chaos are nonsense. Law is about rules, but Chaos is also about rules. Gygax and Arneson essentially put Newtonian solid body mechanics in opposition to fields like fluid dynamics that can only be analyzed experimentally and statistically and tried to call it morally significant. It requires a deep misunderstanding of what the words actually mean. This poor terminology and haphazard lumping of things that are actually fundamentally opposed like legalism and tyranny on the one hand and liberty and anarchy on the other makes the system basically useless. If law were taken as an ideal (because chaos can't be) it would be in opposition to tyranny, anarchy, corruption, and mercy, but not directly opposed to freedom. Those can't be grouped either because anarchy is also opposed to mercy and corruption which are also opposed to each other.
4) The terms are all defined without a philosophical basis. It is very hard to have a moral law without a moral lawgiver. With polytheism you don't have one of those. With your pantheon spread across the alignments you don't have a divine consensus moral law either. Those systems, such as Kant's, which at least sort of work are not used. Consequentialism, which works quite well for post-judgement even if it is difficult for the non-omniscient to use as a guide, is implicitly rejected by the shallow deontological descriptions given to good and evil. The Escapist system could work, but only if you use it to entirely substitute the alignment rules. It doesn't describe what is actually printed in the rule books. It doesn't work with the existing rules because the rules are written by deontologists and if deontology and consequentialism are to be equal opposed alignments then the alignment rules must be written by those who aretologists who find equal merit and flaws in both sides. And from Gygax and Arneson to Jacobs and Reynolds the writers don't. The proof is in point 2.


Atarlost wrote:
I don't think there's been a neutral paragon class since the ranger lost its NG restriction.

Druids supposedly are always neutral. I suppose they could count. That comes with its own problems of course.


Well written post, Atarlost. You make some great points. There's a few points of contention, particularly in clause 4, but your reflections on the alignment system in actual gameplay are very interesting.

I don't want to derail the thread more, so I'll just say that I appreciated your post.

Silver Crusade

This is hugely subjective but for me I would say that the line between Chaotic Neutral and Evil is the gain. A Neutral character would be focused on his/her own goals and desires he/she isn’t out to hurt anyone but they put themselves first. Evil enjoys causing others pain and making their lives worse.


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To spare a life is harder to do than taking one.
If one believes killing will not show they commit sin and their cause is just and righteous, then he is no better than crusaders who thought similarly.
It is a strange world where bloodlust is seen as an acceptable choice in ones life as long as one is still in good graces with authorities.


Toreador wrote:
To spare a life is harder to do than taking one.

Actually, if you want to get really philosophical, Acquiescence is the easiest path and the man who does what he has to is the one making the hardest decisions.

Hippies these days. Poetry won't save you from ogres!


Toreador wrote:

To spare a life is harder to do than taking one.

If one believes killing will not show they commit sin and their cause is just and righteous, then he is no better than crusaders who thought similarly.
It is a strange world where bloodlust is seen as an acceptable choice in ones life as long as one is still in good graces with authorities.

Because prison works so well at stopping evil. Prison breaks are never successful and charismatic tyrants never ever escape exile on, say, the island of Elba, and restart the war they were exiled to stop.


Everyone views alignment differently. I think so much is clear after the 200+ posts of this thread, and the millions on similar threads before. It seems like many posters take all opinions that do not agree with theirs, and try to force other people to agree. Like a soldier, a doctor, and a teenager are going to have the same views on the morality of killing?

My own thoughts:
Neutral is not just an average of either axis. Anyone who tries to "balance" evil acts that they enjoyed committing with "good" acts, like donating to a orphanage, is in fact evil pretending to be good or neutral.

If somebody unwillingly, or out of necessity commits evil acts, and does their best to counteract the evil with an outpouring of good, then they are good. So a lawful good servant of an evil tyrant may be forced to do evil things (sentence a mother and father to death for stealing food for their family), but will then take care of the children to the best of their ability.

Also, the alignments all look different from each character's perspective. Lawful Good characters might equate their lawfulness with their goodness. So, LG citizens of a LG country that has rules against spitting might view a LG citizen from a LG country without such laws a "worse" if he spits.

If you are from a LG country that allows for slavery, you might identify more closely to the LE citizens of a LE country that allows slavery than you would with the LG city that has banned slavery and refused to import from slave owning countries.

So if the characters themselves have trouble discerning what counts as good or not, good luck everyone else.


Indus wrote:

1) Is the act of "finishing off" disabled enemies an act that falls within the very gray purview of Chaotic Neutral, or does this press toward evil?

2) If it presses toward evil, by how much? All the way to Chaotic Evil? Half way?

3) How do you handle this sort of thing in game?

Thanks for any help. Chaotic Neutral is an alignment that gets defined many different ways, and this situation is giving me trouble.

Alignments are more guidelines than rules. I'd default to whatever the intent was of the player.

If the player was like, "Woo! murder time!" Then that is pretty evil.
If the player was like, "Why did my idiot party members leave these fools alive? They will either die by the laws hands or one day get free and seek revenge. Well I can fix that..." That's fairly neutral.
If the player was like, "DIE VILE CREATURES! I SENTENCE THEE TO DEATH! SMITE SMITE SMITE!" That's a fairly good act.

I consider a person's alignment two virtues. It is up to the person to pursue those virtues. Actions themselves are not inherently one alignment or the other.


Drachasor wrote:

[...]Killing ANYONE just for convenience is an evil act in D&D, PERIOD.

That doesn't mean killing is always evil. Not all killing is because of convenience. However, in the situation the OP described

Indus wrote:

Party encounters thugs / criminals who assault party.

Party defeats thugs, disabling[...]the enemies[...].
The party then splits up - CN Rogue stays with the unconscious thugs[...].
While the party is gone, CN Rogue secretly[...]injures all the disabled baddies, so they "bleed out", dying before the others return.
Indus wrote:

To answer the "why did he do it" question, my feeling[subjective, unverified, so useless].

[...]two out of the three of these thugs had thrown down their weapons and surrendered before they were knocked unconscious. Furthermore, all three were tied up with rope and locked inside a jail cell for safekeeping. The CN Rogue was just there to "keep any eye on them".
the killing was for convenience. The player explicitly killed them because he didn't want to have to deal with handling them.
Save for the whole bit where that is what the DM thinks, but evidently has no verified that with the player.
Drachasor wrote:
And making up some insane hypothetical arguments about what "might happen" if you don't kill them is just rationalization unless you have evidence to back it up.

"Thugs/criminals, who assaulted the party." I guess criminals are that easily reformed. Admittedly the thugs who surrendered probably should have been let go instead of killed, but it is easy to assume that if these hardened criminals survived that they would have went on to kill other people.

Possibly evil, yes, but also well justified in its own way. Nowhere is the player of the rogue asked, by the dm, why he killed the criminals. Without verification we don't know why he did what he did, and since it is possible to justify such "insane" action he isn't evil unless his reasons for killing said thus was evil.


MrSin wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Renen wrote:

Anyone ever think its stupid for batman to not kill the villains and just lock em up so they escape again, possibly killing more people?

Would it make batman "evil" to finish off joker after beating him in one of their battles?
Yes it would. It would mean crossing the line that separates his psychosis (yeah Bats isn't really quite sane if you haven't figured that out) from theirs. And he knows it. Note, I'm not answering this in the context of an alignment debate. Alignment does not belong in a Batman story, especially of the Frank Miller variety.

So... Your saying batman is evil? Superman leaves a lot of people alive too. As does Green Lantern. And Goku too.

Arikiel wrote:

People are overanalyzing this. The answer is quite simple really.

Chaotic Neutral become Evil when the GM says so. ;)
Gotta talk about something on Mondays. If we just said that it'd end after like, 1 post wouldn't it?

In fact, Goku never killed a single important villain in all of DBZ.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Sadurian wrote:

Well you can interpret any way you like in your own campaign world, of course.

However, if you have to do Good Actx10 to balance Bad Actx1, I don't see many people being Good aligned for long.

You are not listening. There are plenty of "bad acts" that are comparable to donating some gold to an orphanage and would balance that out. Pickpocketing a townsperson for example.

Murdering half a dozen helpless prisoners would NOT be one of them. Balancing THAT out would require something more like saving the entire orphanage from an invading horde of zombies when the PC could just as easily have walked away.

You can't commit good acts with the idea that they can give you credit chips to balance evil acts. If your intention is to do so, then you are evil, and no amount of "balancing" is going to change that.


Atarlost wrote:

Killing without qualms isn't a sign of evil. It's a sign of someone who has considered the situation beforehand and is confident in his justification.

There's no reason an executioner can't do his job without hesitation and sleep the sleep of the just while maintaining a lawful good alignment.

Hmmm... I think an executioner can do his job accurately, and even sleep well and feel he is doing society a service. But if he does what he does without any qualms whatsoever, he is probably a sociopath. People who feel nothing when they kill are generally considered sick. Even executioners. In fact, cops and soldiers (and I'm betting executioners) will readily tell you that the day you don't feel anything when drawing your weapon or facing down an opponent is the day you'd better quit.

Now, somebody who enjoys killing, qualifies as evil.

So, to sum up: killing without qualms? Sick in the head.

Killing with a rager? Evil.

Killing accurately and efficiently in a situation where it can be "justified," but feeling remorse and wishing it didn't have to be so? A good cop/soldier/human being in a bad situation. (Or with a tough job to do.)


Backfromthedeadguy wrote:
Everything about this screams EVIL. The fact that he lied about it to the party is just icing on the cake. A truly CN character wouldn't care what the party thought and would have just killed them without subterfuge.

CN doesn't mean you can't use subterfuge, trickery or bluff, or at least, I have never read that. Could you tell me where it says CN can't be tricky?

A bit sneak, a bit dishonourable, no torture, I'm going with it being a chaotic neutral act. All he did was finish off enemies and lie about it. No big deal.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
MrSin wrote:
Jareth Elirae wrote:
Killing a defenseless person is evil, no matter how you slice it.
So... Should I untie the evil and vengeful supervillain and give him a fighting chance before I kill him? What about executioners? What if slice vertically instead of horizontal this time?

well if you untie the evil and vengeful supervillain and give him a fighting chance I would consider that a duel and there is historical precedent for that being a lawful way to determine guilt or innocence. An executioner only executes a restrained individual AFTER some form of law has determined guilt, a process has been followed to give the individual a chance to be found innocent, it is not a wanton massacre.


LazarX wrote:
You can't commit good acts with the idea that they can give you credit chips to balance evil acts. If your intention is to do so, then you are evil, and no amount of "balancing" is going to change that.

At long last, someone who gets it.


Jareth Elirae wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Jareth Elirae wrote:
Killing a defenseless person is evil, no matter how you slice it.
So... Should I untie the evil and vengeful supervillain and give him a fighting chance before I kill him? What about executioners? What if slice vertically instead of horizontal this time?
well if you untie the evil and vengeful supervillain and give him a fighting chance I would consider that a duel and there is historical precedent for that being a lawful way to determine guilt or innocence. An executioner only executes a restrained individual AFTER some form of law has determined guilt, a process has been followed to give the individual a chance to be found innocent, it is not a wanton massacre.

You didn't say anything about wanton massacre. Now all the sudden its all about law and precedent instead of doing the right thing or neutral behavior. Is chaos inherently evil or something?

The point was absolutes don't work out so well. Also that slicing horizontal and vertically is slicing differently! Tends to be the same 2D6+3 though.

Jaelithe wrote:
LazarX wrote:
You can't commit good acts with the idea that they can give you credit chips to balance evil acts. If your intention is to do so, then you are evil, and no amount of "balancing" is going to change that.
At long last, someone who gets it.

"At last! Someone who thinks like me." you mean right?


Jaelithe wrote:
LazarX wrote:
You can't commit good acts with the idea that they can give you credit chips to balance evil acts. If your intention is to do so, then you are evil, and no amount of "balancing" is going to change that.
At long last, someone who gets it.
"At last! Someone who thinks like me." you mean right?

No, I don't think that was what was meant. If you have an argument to make against their stance, that's fine. Taking an insulting/demeaning tone and adding nothing else to the conversation doesn't help anything.

Rule 1: Don't be a jerk.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Taku Ooka Nin wrote:
Drachasor wrote:
Taku Ooka Nin wrote:
Drachasor wrote:

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

"Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient."

"...kill without qualms if doing so is convenient."

The murders were Evil. It's literally right in the rules. Whether that makes the character Evil or whether this is just a rare evil act is harder to tell.

You are correct, but only in that these are focused towards innocent people who have neither done anything to the characters nor have a bounty on their heads from a reputable source.

Also, the Rogue had qualms about letting these murderers and killers live since they would obviously just come back to try and kill them again, OR the bandits would just go and kill other less formidable people.

So,

Drachasor wrote:
It's literally right in the rules
as you said, but that the rules oppose your point of view. The rogue's actions were not evil since the people he was killing were not innocent and would have just sought a second chance or killed other people instead.

Except that part isn't about killing innocent people. It's just about killing in general. You're adding stuff that isn't there.

Good for you for rationalizing the unlawful murder of prisoners, btw.

d20pfsrd.com wrote:

Good Versus Evil

Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.
The Good VS Evil scale is based in regards to innocent life. If someone tries to kill you then it is neutral to kill them. Otherwise soldiers fighting in wars are absolutely, and to the very core of their beings Evil monsters due to their...

In addressing this scenario and possible justifications, I was speaking only in the context of what I consider a chaotic neutral philosophy which does not seem to be one that takes into account long range consequences of their actions, so once they have placed a situation into a non-threatening phase and "leave a villain to his fate" as it were I don't think the true chaotic neutral thinks a whole lot of the next steps through that no longer concern him personally (ex: travel frequency of shipping lane, how long food/water will last a prisoner, or the ability of said villain to recruit a horde of dragons-despite the fact that his honeyed words could not persuade a single chaotic neutral character to spare his life).

Some of your other claims have me baffled, particularly the idea if innocence being forfeit in the event of an attack- would you have slain Ven Vinder in the beginning of Rise of the Runelords for sullying his daughter's honor (such as it is) or later when he may blame you for a family members death? What about if you perceive someone attacked you (such as dopplegangers or illusion), are you then free to justly claim vengeance even if good or lawful because "they attacked you first" in a game where mistaken identity happens quiet often this seems a dangerous philosophy and reckless as presumably most characters with an intelligence score over 6 know such transmutation and illusion magic exists in the world. I wouldn't extend the ideas of slaying creatures being evil to extraplanar creatures like demons and devil, most undead, and colored dragons as it is well known that they are representations of moral absolutes, whereas most humanoids can change. Even rapacious predators like trolls have proven able to live harmoniously in cities like Kaer Magna... demons not so much.
Soldiers in war are also unrelated in that in a mass battle for the protection of a way of life is not subject to the same rules as a one on one situation where someone has already capitulated. I would say a soldier that arbitrarily kills an opposing soldier who has surrendered has committed an evil act. Not so if the foe is up and fighting.


I decided to add in my thoughts after reading through the thread. I apologize in advance for the length of my post. *bows*

I do think that justifications given by the player of the chaotic neutral character falls short. First of all, the character is fully aware that the group includes a lawful good character (a paladin?) and other good-aligned characters who would rightly object to his act of bleeding out the prisoners. So why even bother doing it?

Second, he claims to do it for the group's sake. How does that compute? The group deliberately went out of their way to render the criminals unconscious, bind them, and lock them up where they can do no further immediate harm. It is quite obvious that they intend to either question the criminals and/or carry them back to the proper authorities. Now while I cannot recall for certain, but was the group not within easy access to the authorities (I thought that the encounter took place within a populated centre but I could be wrong. Even if the nearest authorities were not close, at most, they are probably within a reasonable distance - hard to do most profitable smuggling if you are not relatively close to the distributers/buyers)? So the group is hardly inconvenienced if they were willingly to go through all that effort in the first place. It is only an inconvenience if it was an unexpected hurdle to surmount.

Third, while it is reasonable in real life (although not as common as one expects, I think) for unconscious people, who have been administered first aid or have stabilized, to have their wounds re-open and run the risk of bleeding out to death, that is not the case in this game. Everyone knows a character who was/currently is in the negatives and has stabilized, cannot run the risk of bleeding to death (although they do run the risk of dying if they continue to fail to regain consciousness - a check that they must attempt every hour; see page 190-191 of the Core Rulebook). The first clue that "Hmm, something here smells fishy."

Fourth, while not mentioned in the Core Rulebook, it would not be against common sense for a character to use the Heal skill to determine the bleeding was inflicted or the wounds opened up naturally. If you can perform first aid fairly well, you should be able to tell if you botched the job afterwards. This is your second clue that "Um, yeah, something really does not smell right here." Although, admittedly, heroes are generally not medically-licensed doctors so I honestly do not know how proficient a healer would have to do be in order to ascertain this but I suppose a DC 15 or DC 20 check is quite reasonable, especially if the wounds were not cut exactly along the same length and depth of the original wounds (although I suppose one could stick their thumb in a fresh puncture wound to force the wound to bleed).

Fifth, any character with a +3 modifier for Heal checks and a healer's kit, or a +5 modifier, and takes 10 can ensure that no prisoner is going to die anytime soon after they tended to that prisoner (first aid is a DC 15 - easily achieved even at 1st level). Treating deadly wounds is DC 20 and that can be done by taking 20 outside of combat (if I remember correctly, but I could be wrong about that) without further risk of self-inflicted injuries by a restrained prisoner. This is your third clue that "O.k., somebody bled these guys to death because I KNOW for a fact that we patched these guys up specifically so they would not be at risk of dying on us due to the injuries they suffered at our hands, even though we did subdual damage too."

Finally, and I may be wrong on this point here, but would it not be more in line for a chaotic neutral character to simply state that he will not be responsible for the prisoners (since it is the desire of the other characters that the criminals are to be taken captives) or resort to clearly threatening the criminals with deadly force if they return to seek vengeance, at least in this particular case?

Where is the benefit for the chaotic neutral individual here by murdering the prisoners? That they will not return to harm him (unlikely)? The criminals were already duly defeated by the group and the chaotic neutral character enjoys a healthy and substantial mutual protection afforded by the group. So, not likely that the criminals will risk another confrontation.

In addition, by murdering the criminals, the chaotic neutral's character is being questioned not only by his fellow party members (which can threaten to remove him from the benefits afforded by membership), he also risks incurring the unwanted attention from the local authorities if they find out that he has been playing "judge, jury, and executioner" in their backyard (depends on the authorities, but in general, they tend to object to others enjoying the "perks," if you will).

And of course, the organization that the criminals are members thereof might consider actual actions against the heroes now that they have caused the death of their members, instead of just tossing them into jail (losing members to a prison sentence is generally a smaller loss than losing members permanently and suffering a drop in reputation at the same time).

So, where is the benefit in this for the chaotic neutral character to murder the prisoners? Certainly not for the group's benefit and I highly doubt that it benefits his own long-term well-being/survival. Maybe for his pleasure/entertainment/fetish/whatever tickles your fancy?

Like I said at the beginning, I think the player's justifications for the character's behaviour are really poorly thought-out excuses. As a player, I would call him out on what I think is BS. As a DM, I would politely warn him that in light of his actions, his character will eventually become evil (and possibly a npc) if he continues to play his character in that fashion. It is not an immediate shift to chaotic evil, but in my mind, he certainly has a foot firmly planted in that part of the playground.

CB out.

Silver Crusade

In regards to the original post, I could see it being perfectly within his alignment. He wanted revenge, and maybe was a rather nastily vengeful type, however letting them be imprisoned would go against the very nature of a CN soul. Therefore, killing them was a better thing to do than let them live and be imprisoned.


Mystic_Snowfang wrote:
In regards to the original post, I could see it being perfectly within his alignment. He wanted revenge, and maybe was a rather nastily vengeful type, however letting them be imprisoned would go against the very nature of a CN soul. Therefore, killing them was a better thing to do than let them live and be imprisoned.

How is having the criminals imprisoned and serving time for evil acts that they have committed goes against the soul of a chaotic neutral character? A chaotic neutral character is more likely than not to be selfish and care only about his/her well-being than worrying about the consequences of actions taken by others (so long as it does not impede upon the chaotic neutral character's ability to do whatever he/she wants). Plus, a chaotic neutral character would probably not want these supposedly evil characters to be free to do as they wish (because you know, they might impede upon his/her ability to do whatever he/she wants, especially now that they got a beef with the chaotic neutral character and the rest of the party).

If the chaotic neutral character was truly against the concept of "imprisonment," he would have either objected to capturing enemies in the first place, or simply released the criminals afterwards, one at a time, from their bonds and imprisonment, on the condition that they do not return to seek retribution, and then later give the rest of the party a tale about how one of them managed to slip his bonds and knock out the chaotic neutral character, and subsequently escaping with the rest of his colleagues. That way, there is less chance of friction between the chaotic neutral character and the rest of the party, and has the additional benefits of not bringing down more unwanted attention to the chaotic neutral character.

The only way I can see that the chaotic neutral character would want to enact some pretty serious vengeance is if the criminals have greatly wronged him (along the lines of "hey, I remember these guys: they used to beat me up back when I was a kid," or "these are the guys who robbed me last year after they slipped me a mickey"). If he is willing to murder every single opponent he fought that is currently unconscious and restrained, then he is both evil and has a horribly vindictive streak in him (kind of like a psychopath). Not that I am calling that particular character a psychopath (yet). I do not know what are his track records so I cannot make that firm conclusion.

On the other hand, I really cannot see "killing them because death is much better than life spent in prison" as a valid justification, unless the prison we are referencing here is really that horrifying. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but does not the crime of smuggling equals the death penalty anyways in the game setting? If so, the criminals were not going to be "imprisoned" for long. If anything, they would be getting the final freedom - freedom from the shackles of the flesh, ;) Unless of course, the final destination for their souls was any of the lower planes (which is a strong possibility for these smugglers - which means the chaotic neutral character just ensured that these criminals will spent eternity in pain and agony, as a plaything to a demon/devil; whereas if they were sent to prison, they could have been reformed and redeemed themselves) :o

I can see the murdering of the prisoners being justified but it takes some seriously extenuating circumstances for that to happen, even for a chaotic neutral character, in my opinion.

CB out.


Yknow looking at the OP, its oddly comforting and disturbing that 20+ years later with the alignment system, the same example of CN evilness gets done by players :P

Rogue-type? Check. CN? Check. "Mysterious body count?" Check.

This is almost the classic, "I really want to be evil, but since we don't run evil PCs, I'll be CN and play ...yknow....evil."


This is one of the areas I actually enforce alignment. I don't quite do a point tally to determine when a switch happens, but I do keep mental tabs an blatantly evil acts. A single "oh s##~" act and you change on the spot. A couple lesser acts and you get switched. So on. I don't prescribe to the "balance" theory of neutral either. If you use good acts to justify evil you'll get switched as well.


You enforce a change in a character's entire outlook and philosophy because of one "oh s$+%" act?

Doesn't seem very realistic to me. People can be put in some harsh situations and make bad choices, that doesn't mean their beliefs flip, flip, flip.

Do you flip neutrals if they do major good acts? Top-down enforcement all the way?

Why run player's characters for them and tell them what they believe? Isn't that their jobs as the... players?

Silver Crusade

It’s up to the GM. Talk it out with the player and see what compromise yinz can come to. Otherwise just rule it whatever you are comfortable ruling it. I would say it is totally within the limits of the alignment. I hate the general elementary school level definition of good/evil that pollutes any thread like this.

Last week at my PFS game I had to constantly argue that my NG inquisitor was not doing evil things....there is a major differance between being evil and being mean.

Most people I have encountered play good in some zealot fashion that literally doesn't make sense. One can be a d#%$@ead, be rude, be a smart aleck, and in general be mean as heck to people without their motivation or outlook on life being tainted by evil.

You start punching little girls in the face and suddenly you are evil…..total hog wash.


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Punching little girls in the face is mean AND evil ... but you're right, it doesn't make you over into Darth Vader instantaneously.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I doubt I am going to add something that has not been said up thread.

Some people like alignment, and others think is is a ball and chain, a left over from previous editions that is best cut off so people can be free to play their characters.

I happen to like alignment. It is one of the aspects of the game that has survived relatively intact from edition to edition.

It provides me with a short hand for how a character tends to act.

Alignment is of course one thing that is interpreted many different ways.

Traditionally Alignment is interpreted by the GM who is running the game.

I would say the acts the OP mentioned would in my book would be evil acts. The character Lied (used the bluff skill) to cover up what he did afterwards.

I think a good example of a CN character would be Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Carribean.

Well that's just my two cents.

Silver Crusade

Jaelithe wrote:
Punching little girls in the face is mean AND evil ... but you're right, it doesn't make you over into Darth Vader instantaneously.

lol in general yes it would, but in this situation I considered it just mean

Little escape artist wouldn't stay tied up and locked in a closet after completely refusing to listen to reason, so knocking her unconscious was the next logical step.....it was for her own good I promise, all other avenues were explored before she caught the right hook to her jaw.

Grand Lodge

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If anything, this entire discussion proves how subjective and varied the alignment system is. The end result seems to always be Batman vs Superman or Riddick vs Drizzt. Neverending battle...


mswbear wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:
Punching little girls in the face is mean AND evil ... but you're right, it doesn't make you over into Darth Vader instantaneously.

lol in general yes it would, but in this situation I considered it just mean

Little escape artist wouldn't stay tied up and locked in a closet after completely refusing to listen to reason, so knocking her unconscious was the next logical step.....it was for her own good I promise, all other avenues were explored before she caught the right hook to her jaw.

Sounds reasonable to me. No spellcasters to cast Sleep or something? Less violent, but achieves the same goal for the same motive.


Actually, it is quite possible for anyone to readily change alignments - it merely depends on the degree and severity of the acts you carry out (sometimes it also depends on the scale). By its own nature, being evil is disgustingly easier is than being good, which makes it harder to change to a "good" alignment than it is to adopt an "evil" alignment.

It is why we have the traditional notion that evil always outnumbers good but good is generally stronger in force than evil. So, becoming evil due to a single evil act is certainly within the realm of reason: it depends on the severity of the evil act. Evil acts also has the drawback of being, well, permanent stains on your soul (kind of like a permanent criminal record that you cannot pretend it never existed). This makes redemption an insanely difficult task to accomplish, and even then, it still does not automatically guarantee you get into the paradise of your choice when you shuffle off the mortail coil (well, at least in most rpg settings - I certainly find the claims of certain real life religions to be quite....suspect, to say the least, but it's neither here or there, in the context of the discussion in this thread).

Of course, as usual, circumstances and the context of the situation may or may not lessen or increase the severity of an "evil" or "good" act. Still, nobody ever said that being good was easy, but being evil? Definitely easier in general. Luckily, most people do find the more extreme evil acts to be repulsive while thefts, cons, smuggling, basic oppression (not slavery, more like treating others like second-class citizens), and so forth tend to be viewed with a certain degree of lattitude, unlike murder and conspiracies to pervert the impressionable minds of our youth, ;P.

CB out.


Jaelithe wrote:
Punching little girls in the face is mean AND evil ... but you're right, it doesn't make you over into Darth Vader instantaneously.

Slaughtering a village of Sand People does :) Ok Ok, not totally, but it sets you up for "I pledge myself to evil, lets go kill a temple full of kids!"


Jaelithe wrote:
Punching little girls in the face is mean AND evil ... but you're right, it doesn't make you over into Darth Vader instantaneously.

Conversely. Stabbing the little girl and taking the body to mock the parents and kill them? That's the kind of "oh s@*!" moment that warrants an instant shift. I like how these boards take a vague statement and assume the meaning rather than asking questions. ;)


mswbear wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:
Punching little girls in the face is mean AND evil ... but you're right, it doesn't make you over into Darth Vader instantaneously.

lol in general yes it would, but in this situation I considered it just mean

Little escape artist wouldn't stay tied up and locked in a closet after completely refusing to listen to reason, so knocking her unconscious was the next logical step.....it was for her own good I promise, all other avenues were explored before she caught the right hook to her jaw.

Why was it necessary to keep her in the closet? You've worked up my curiosity.

I can think of several personally (ghouls come to mind; had a campaign where a necromancer kept sending those to invade homes). But I definitely want to hear the story behind your's.


Canadian Bakka wrote:

Actually, it is quite possible for anyone to readily change alignments - it merely depends on the degree and severity of the acts you carry out (sometimes it also depends on the scale). By its own nature, being evil is disgustingly easier is than being good, which makes it harder to change to a "good" alignment than it is to adopt an "evil" alignment.

It is why we have the traditional notion that evil always outnumbers good but good is generally stronger in force than evil. So, becoming evil due to a single evil act is certainly within the realm of reason: it depends on the severity of the evil act. Evil acts also has the drawback of being, well, permanent stains on your soul (kind of like a permanent criminal record that you cannot pretend it never existed). This makes redemption an insanely difficult task to accomplish, and even then, it still does not automatically guarantee you get into the paradise of your choice when you shuffle off the mortail coil (well, at least in most rpg settings - I certainly find the claims of certain real life religions to be quite....suspect, to say the least, but it's neither here or there, in the context of the discussion in this thread).

Of course, as usual, circumstances and the context of the situation may or may not lessen or increase the severity of an "evil" or "good" act. Still, nobody ever said that being good was easy, but being evil? Definitely easier in general. Luckily, most people do find the more extreme evil acts to be repulsive while thefts, cons, smuggling, basic oppression (not slavery, more like treating others like second-class citizens), and so forth tend to be viewed with a certain degree of lattitude, unlike murder and conspiracies to pervert the impressionable minds of our youth, ;P.

CB out.

If a decent and caring family man is drafted and does something terrible in warfare once, does he cease to be a decent and caring family man and pillar of the community? Characters should be more than any of their single acts.

I like stories of redemption, and for alignment to be a journey, not a penalty box.


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Alignment should chart your decision-making, not guide it.


Jaelithe wrote:
Alignment should chart your decision-making, not guide it.

I always liked to think your decision making should chart alignment. If alignment charts your decision making then its acting as the guide, but if your actions chart your alignment then it means your actively progressing as a character.

Personally I always liked using traits instead of alignment. Writing down small notes on how a character reacts to things or thinks and changes over time has a much different effect than writing Chaotic Good, imo. Also makes more sense to write "hates orcs!" or rather than trying to figure out what hating orcs means for your alignment since your a nice guy all day and circumstances can change everything. Don't even have to write them down either, its really just characterization.


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Alignment is whatever you want it to be man.

Unless you a pally. Then you just hand your sheet over to the DM and he tells you what you do.


MrSin wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:
Alignment should chart your decision-making, not guide it.
I always liked to think your decision making should chart alignment. If alignment charts your decision making then its acting as the guide, but if your actions chart your alignment then it means your actively progressing as a character.

That's not what chart means. To chart something is to mark it on a chart. It's a slightly less constrained version of the verb to map.

Charts are descriptive, not prescriptive.


Atarlost wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:
Alignment should chart your decision-making, not guide it.
I always liked to think your decision making should chart alignment. If alignment charts your decision making then its acting as the guide, but if your actions chart your alignment then it means your actively progressing as a character.

That's not what chart means. To chart something is to mark it on a chart. It's a slightly less constrained version of the verb to map.

Charts are descriptive, not prescriptive.

Tell that to four different fields of science.


Are we really arguing about a word the multiple definition(s) of which are readily available online?

I used it properly. Accept it and move on.


DM Under The Bridge wrote:


If a decent and caring family man is drafted and does something terrible in warfare once, does he cease to be a decent and caring family man and pillar of the community? Characters should be more than any of their...

As history has shown us, a significant number of war veterans have problems reconciling with the fact that they killed people - it is a quite traumatic and psychological experience and for many, it takes a lot of therapy to deal with the issues.

A large number of soldiers (over the course of human history, not just recently) have indeed committed pretty heinous crimes while serving during a war. And yet, prior to serving in the army, they were valuable members of the community. It is entirely possible to be a decent and caring family man to those who you care about, but if you butchered a village of noncombatants during a war, your alignment sure as hell is not good. You do not get to kill a bunch of noncombatants and walk away smelling like sunshine. Past behaviour cannot be used to excuse present behaviour. That is like saying a priest who raped a child is not a monster because he donated food and money to the homeless. Prior to the knowledge of such crimes, the rest of the community held these priests in high esteem and as pillars of the community. Are you going to argue that even if they only raped a child once (hell, even raped an adult for that matter), that the priests are somehow still "good?" I sincerely hope not.

As any homicide detective (or any reasonable amount of studying criminology) can tell you, among the most common motivations for any criminal/evil act committed are lust, greed, and love. A number of individuals who killed another person were previously well-standing members of society, but that does not forgive the fact that they committed an evil act. I highly doubt anyone who committed a murder can sanely and reasonably be able to look into the mirror and declare that he/she is still a good person. That's the problem with evil actions/deeds - you never feel the same again (assuming you feel remorse over it), it is like you choose to drown your soul in filth that never comes off.

As I mentioned before, a single evil act can radically alter your alignment but it depends greatly on the act itself, the severity/degree, the scale of the act, and other circumstancial factors that could possibly lessen or increase the signficance of the act itself. Sometimes the evil act is not that bad (in the grand scheme of things) but consistently performing them will trigger an alignment change. On the other hand, sometimes the evil act is so horrific, it changes you completely for the worse (unless you want to be evil) on the spot.

Sovereign Court

The fact he murdered the individuals for mere sport and no other motivation makes it evil. You could justify the act as possibly a non-evil if there were a greater motivation (like framing Guilder, and in framing Guilder, Florin would attack them to save tiny Good Land). But there was not, his act was an act of mere self pleasure at having them die by his hand. By dening doing so to avoid repurcussions it shows he even knew the act was evil and lacked remorse over the act. Chaos is liberty, freedom from Heirarchies, not I get to do anything I want to those I have power over. (That's either Lawful or Evil depending on what the anything is).


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And then we talked about subjective feelings and ideals about real life subjects. Can we like... Not?


MrSin wrote:
And then we talked about subjective feelings and ideals about real life subjects. Can we like... Not?

Fair enough. We certainly can strive to keep the discussion constrained within the fantasy framework.

CB out.

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