Paladin PC - I think he just fell.


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Darinby wrote:
Sub_Zero wrote:
I'm pointing out that the situation is more grey then that.

Casually killing sentient creatures is a grey area now?

1. The Paladin had the creature unconscious and completely helpless. Any justification of self-defense is void.
2. The Player when asked why the Paladin character (in game) killed the Wyvern stated "It attacked me and damaged me and made me angry so it has to die". Any justification of 'it might hurt other travelers in the future' is void.
3. The other PCs were trying to convince the Wyvern to change it ways and were making headway. Any justification of the Wyvern being irredeemably evil is void.
4. The Paladin had a opportunity to SAFELY and EASILY learn this simply by asking his fellow PCs. Any justification of claiming ignorance of #3 is void.

So where exactly is the grey area here?

Also note that the information in #3 could have been anything from "the wyvern was defending it's young" to "every biped the Wyvern had previously met had tried to kill it". The Paladin didn't bother finding out.

Considering you can find other rationales already made repeatedly I won't bother making them again on why this might have been ok. That said, you again, seem to think that stating your opinion on the matter solves the problem.

(hint it doesn't).


Gregory Connolly wrote:
This is the gap in the logic you are not seeing written anywhere.

Awesome, thanks!


Suffice it to say this thread is why I don't play Paladins, because I don't want to deal with this bullhonkey.

Incidentally, for me it wouldn't be as bad, since my DM has ruled that anything that goes into negatives is instantly dead unless we explicitly want to save it. And he did that specifically because we're trying to play a game not have an amateur theologians meeting on the morality of combat/self defense.


Gotta point out, in this world people muttering words you can't understand in the middle of a combat can be and has a high probability of being a spell if you don't have detect magic or a high spellcraft.

Usually when a highly dangerous creature of the same blood as dragons that i DON'T have significant knowledge about starts muttering strange words in another language right after attacking me, I don't stop and ask my party members "Is it casting a spell or not?"


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Gwaithador wrote:

The third inquiry concerned a Ranger character. The writer

claimed that his or her DM combined with a lawful good Ranger to
insist that a wounded Wyvern was to be protected, not slain, unless it
attacked the party. Here is a classic case of players being told that
(lawful) good equates with stupidity. To assert that a man-killing
monster with evil tendencies should be protected by a lawful good
Ranger is pure insanity. How many lives does this risk immediately?
How many victims are condemned to death later? In short, this is not
“good” by any accepted standards! It is much the same as sparing a
rabid dog or a rogue elephant or a man-eating tiger.

If good is carefully considered, compared to and contrasted with
evil, then common sense will enable most, if not all, questions
regarding the behavior of Paladins and Rangers to be settled on the
spot. Consideration of the character’s deity is of principal merit after
arriving at an understanding of good. Thereafter, campaign “world”
moral and ethical teachings on a cultural basis must rule. These
concepts might be drawn from myth or some other source. What
matters is that a definition of “good” is established upon intelligent
and reasonable grounds. Viewpoints do differ, so absolutes (especially
in a game) are both undesirable and impossible.

-Gary Gygax, Dragon Magazine Issue 38, June 1980

I think that Gary said it best.

Liberty's Edge

I would say that people who don't honor parley are likely to not get parley honored. If the bandits are talking to the paladin's party, and he runs up, they have every justification to strike down his party. They invade some neutral cloud giants territory, the fact that they broke parley before will discourage the giants from starting with anything but an attack.


prosfilaes wrote:
I would say that people who don't honor parley are likely to not get parley honored. If the bandits are talking to the paladin's party, and he runs up, they have every justification to strike down his party. They invade some neutral cloud giants territory, the fact that they broke parley before will discourage the giants from starting with anything but an attack.

Once again, they were speaking draconic. He didn't know a word of what they were saying, only that people who had been fighting a minute ago were speaking a strange language at each other. In a world where speaking in a strange language is a common prelude to a fireball coming out of midair this isn't always the best sign, especially for a character without the "knowledge" of a monster's capabilities, or a decent spellcraft.


Thomas Long 175 wrote:
Once again, they were speaking draconic. He didn't know a word of what they were saying, only that people who had been fighting a minute ago were speaking a strange language at each other. In a world where speaking in a strange language is a common prelude to a fireball coming out of midair this isn't always the best sign, especially for a character without the "knowledge" of a monster's capabilities, or a decent spellcraft.

Even someone without spellcraft can tell the difference between two people fighting/casting spells at each other and two people TALKING in a strange language.

You know how we know that? The GM specifically told the PC "you can tell they appear to be talking with him in a language you don't know and they aren't fighting". The Paladin can tell the other PCs are talking and not fighting/casting spells. He knows what his party members look like when they are fighting, he know what they look like when they are casting spells.


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Gwaithador wrote:
I think that Gary said it best.

This would be completely legit if that had been the paladin's motivation behind killing the wyvern. From what we've been told, it's clear that it wasn't.


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This is somewhat relevant


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Thymus Vulgaris wrote:
Gwaithador wrote:
I think that Gary said it best.
This would be completely legit if that had been the paladin's motivation behind killing the wyvern. From what we've been told, it's clear that it wasn't.

But is it really fair to hold the paladin responsible for the actions of his player?


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Humphrey Boggard wrote:
Thymus Vulgaris wrote:
Gwaithador wrote:
I think that Gary said it best.
This would be completely legit if that had been the paladin's motivation behind killing the wyvern. From what we've been told, it's clear that it wasn't.
But is it really fair to hold the paladin responsible for the actions of his player?

Woah, things just went meta. Careful, the 4th wall around here can only take so much abuse!


Humphrey Boggard wrote:
Thymus Vulgaris wrote:
Gwaithador wrote:
I think that Gary said it best.
This would be completely legit if that had been the paladin's motivation behind killing the wyvern. From what we've been told, it's clear that it wasn't.
But is it really fair to hold the paladin responsible for the actions of his player?

Is this a joke?


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Yes. Yes it is.

The GM explained that the player's reasoning behind killing the wyvern was that he was frustrated that he didn't get to kill a troll in an earlier encounter.

Stephen Ede wrote:

From what he said he was operating on two levels -

A) In game - "It attacked me and damaged me and made me angry so it has to die".
B) Metagame - The player was pissed about the Trolls in the last encounter not been killed thanks to (in his mind) an agreed mutual withdrawal...

Like every great paladin morality thread we've spent several hundred posts making profound moral arguments that clearly don't reflect the reality of what took place at that particular table.


Darinby wrote:
Rynjin wrote:

I have no obligation to listen to the demands of someone who has just tried to kill me.

That is called taking someone hostage. Don't negotiate with hostage takers if you're in a position to take them out.

Which they were, in this case, since said hostage taker was not nearly in a position of strength.

The PCs were unrestrained, fully armed, and in a position of strength. In fact, they were the ones forcing the Wyvern into negotiations instead of the other way around.

Rynjin wrote:


"Oh well he just stabbed me in the gut but he's talking to my friends now so he MUST BE AN OKAY GUY RIGHT?"

Are you seriously telling me that any living person with more than two brain cells to rub together would realistically think that?

Any good person would find out what's going on before shooting the guy in the back of the head. Maybe he deserves to go to jail, maybe he deserves to get shot, AND MAYBE HE WAS OFF HIS MEDS AND NEEDS MEDICAL CARE. If you have any compassion for your fellow human beings at all you take a few seconds to find out which situation applies before blowing his head off.

this is a wyvern, not a human being. That said I find thr idea of a wyvern taking meds to keep it on an even keel both humorous and fascinating and maybe even scary.


Kryzbyn wrote:

Ok...true.

They didn't say a word to him. The Sphinx just aided the Wyvern preventing it from taking falling damage fro mthe Paladin's first attack. Actions speak louder than words...but I digress.

Strike that last part off, then. However:

"This was clearly an over the top response to a de-escalated situation, and he needs to atone for it."

That part is still valid.

to me, its that first part that is thr biggest problem. Why didnt the party say anything? Why were they playing(and the dm reacting) as if he wasnt in the room?

Liberty's Edge

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Freehold DM wrote:
this is a wyvern, not a human being. That said I find thr idea of a wyvern taking meds to keep it on an even keel both humorous and fascinating and maybe even scary.

I'm mostly bowed out of this thread...but why would it being a Wyvern matter, morally speaking? They have Int 7, so they're as smart as many human beings, and as capable of thought and feeling. Why is it more okay to kill one in the same circumstances?


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
this is a wyvern, not a human being. That said I find thr idea of a wyvern taking meds to keep it on an even keel both humorous and fascinating and maybe even scary.
I'm mostly bowed out of this thread...but why would it being a Wyvern matter, morally speaking? They have Int 7, so they're as smart as many human beings, and as capable of thought and feeling. Why is it more okay to kill one in the same circumstances?

Because they're flying murderous a*$%!%#s who act more on instinct than any human who would reasonably be protected by the paladin's code. In fact the fact that it has a 7 int is exactly why it's actively engaging in evil for attacking random passersby without notice and has earned it's death sentence. Frankly if these were bandits I'd also be perfectly okay with it.

Liberty's Edge

gnomersy wrote:
Because they're flying murderous a%@$*$$s who act more on instinct than any human who would reasonably be protected by the paladin's code. In fact the fact that it has a 7 int is exactly why it's actively engaging in evil for attacking random passersby without notice and has earned it's death sentence.

Again, not returning to this debate, though I disagree. See every other post I made in this thread earlier for why.

gnomersy wrote:
Frankly if these were bandits I'd also be perfectly okay with it.

That's a fine and consistent world view then...but it doesn't answer my question of "Why bring up that it's a wyvern and not a human?"

Which wasn't really directed at you anyway, for the record.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
this is a wyvern, not a human being. That said I find thr idea of a wyvern taking meds to keep it on an even keel both humorous and fascinating and maybe even scary.
I'm mostly bowed out of this thread...but why would it being a Wyvern matter, morally speaking? They have Int 7, so they're as smart as many human beings, and as capable of thought and feeling. Why is it more okay to kill one in the same circumstances?

because at that part of thr conversation, the tipic had turned away from the wyvern and to an amorphous "guy" who was not on his meds. A complete change in species and situation.


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gnomersy wrote:
Because they're flying murderous a%$*!@~s who act more on instinct than any human who would reasonably be protected by the paladin's code. In fact the fact that it has a 7 int is exactly why it's actively engaging in evil for attacking random passersby without notice and has earned it's death sentence. Frankly if these were bandits I'd also be perfectly okay with it.

Calling the attackers 'bandits' is an assumption of guilt. It implies that the attacker was disobeying the lawful authority of the area, the PCs were aware of none. It also implies a shared cultural code that both parties would be aware of and that the attacker violated.

A fairer analogy would be the party of PCs getting attacked by a of party natives living in the area. If there is any lawful authority in the area, it lies with the natives.

An armed party invaded the natives territory, the natives attack first. Is that a nice thing to do? No. Could it ever be justifiable? Of course, by any number of situations.

Repeated incursions of robbers/settlers might have taught the natives that stranger=danger. Their culture would dictate they use any possible advantage in their fight for the survival of their tribe. Simo Häyhä "the white death" killed hundreds of Russians from hiding during the Winter War, that was not dishonorable. He was simply defending his homeland in the most effective manner he could.

If you replace the Wyvern with a Native American Tribe, do you still feel comfortable giving a big thumbs-up to the Paladin's actions?


Except in the AP you're in you've come to take back the Stolen Lands.

Which makes YOU the Native American tribe coming to take their land BACK, while the current "natives" are the colonials who are attacking you for being in "their" territory.

Still feel comfortable about giving a big thumbs-up to the wyvern's actions?

Spoiler:
This isn't entirely accurate, but it IS the perspective of the government which charged them with taking the land back, and presumably the PCs by extension.


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Darinby wrote:


If you replace the Wyvern with a Native American Tribe, do you still feel comfortable giving a big thumbs-up to the Paladin's actions?

Yes but I think it's cute because you're effectively trying to make the Hitler comparison. Grow up.

If the Native American Tribe was attacking people with no warning, I would have absolutely no qualms with wiping them out. If I ran around stabbing people without warning or explanation, I would expect to get put down like a rabid dog.

Liberty's Edge

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Rynjin wrote:

Except in the AP you're in you've come to take back the Stolen Lands.

Which makes YOU the Native American tribe coming to take their land BACK, while the current "natives" are the colonials who are attacking you for being in "their" territory.

Still feel comfortable about giving a big thumbs-up to the wyvern's actions?

Again, not really participating in the main thrust of this thread...but I don't think anyone thinks the Wyvern didn't commit an Evil act. If it were a Paladin it would've fallen. The issue is whether the actual Paladin committed one, too.


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Rynjin wrote:

Except in the AP you're in you've come to take back the Stolen Lands.

Which makes YOU the Native American tribe coming to take their land BACK, while the current "natives" are the colonials who are attacking you for being in "their" territory.

Still feel comfortable about giving a big thumbs-up to the wyvern's actions?

So in your scenario, a group of heavily armed Native American tribesmen intent on retaking the land of their ancestors show up on a rancher's homestead unannounced, get shot at resulting in minor injuries, and drive off the shooter. Two of the tribesmen chase down the rancher, convince him that he is better off talking to them rather than trying to fight a superior force, and start to explain that this is rightfully their land, and if the rancher wants to stay he has to follow the tribe's rules. According to the GM this approach has a significant chance of success. It is at this time that the third Native American shows up, sees them talking, and shoots the rancher. One of the talkers tries to give the rancher first aid to prevent him from bleeding out and explains that they were negotiating. The third Native American then shoots the rancher in the head to make sure he dies. Hmmm...still evil.

And I never gave a big thumbs-up to the Wyvern's actions, but I don't need to. The Wyvern is neutral and not that bright, it is within his alignment to do occasional #$@$# moves. A Paladin whose abilities stem from maintaining the highest standards of good doesn't get that leeway.

The fact that the Paladin didn't bother to learn WHY the Wyvern attacked means we also have to consider the POSSIBLE motivations the Wyvern might have had, some of which are fairly justified. If the Wyvern has been attacked without warning by previous adventurers, it has every reason to deal with this new threat in its territory preemptively.


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Darinby wrote:
And I never gave a big thumb's up to the Wyvern's actions, but I don't need to. The Wyvern is neutral and not that bright, it is within his alignment to do occasional #$@$# moves. A Paladin whose abilities stem from maintaining the highest standards of good doesn't get that leeway.

To be fair, a properly optimized paladin should have an INT no higher than 8. Definitely the paladin doesn't have the mental wherewithal to follow complex metaphors involving natives tribes any more than the wyvern would (INT 7).

edit: On reflection I have a whole new respect for the player. When I read the GM's descriptions of what had happened I figured he was just being an immature prat. Now I realize that he was role-playing his character.

edit 2: To say nothing of the fact that the Paladin likely has a WIS of 7 or similar whereas the Wyvern has WIS 12. Really the Wyvern would appreciate the ethics and morality of all this on a much deeper level than the Paladin would.

edit 3: [slight derail] Could a character with WIS 7 really appreciate and understand the concept of freedom enough to act on its behalf?


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Man these goalposts! I can't catch 'em!


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I'm worried that so many people think a paladin of freedom should try to talk his way out of every situation or stop the instant someone attempts to palaver. It would result in a lot of dead paladins of freedom in my games, but that's just me.


Darinby wrote:
Thomas Long 175 wrote:
Once again, they were speaking draconic. He didn't know a word of what they were saying, only that people who had been fighting a minute ago were speaking a strange language at each other. In a world where speaking in a strange language is a common prelude to a fireball coming out of midair this isn't always the best sign, especially for a character without the "knowledge" of a monster's capabilities, or a decent spellcraft.

Even someone without spellcraft can tell the difference between two people fighting/casting spells at each other and two people TALKING in a strange language.

You know how we know that? The GM specifically told the PC "you can tell they appear to be talking with him in a language you don't know and they aren't fighting". The Paladin can tell the other PCs are talking and not fighting/casting spells. He knows what his party members look like when they are fighting, he know what they look like when they are casting spells.

1. That's flat wrong, you don't know what a spell being cast looks like unless you use a spellcraft. True spellcraft is to tell you the specific spell, but beyond that, short of houseruling, there is no real difference between a componentless spell being cast and 2 people talking at each other emphatically in a strange language who use their hands a lot.

2. A lot of spells, including the one i mentioned, are instantaneous. Aka, they will stand there and wave their arms until something happens in the flash of a second. That second not being on the paladins turn to act. While it is true that this all happens "simultaneously" he does not see the effects of said spell and thus know any form of difference until the spell actually goes off.

3. The GM telling him that he knows they aren't fighting and him acting on that knowledge is in fact metagaming because there is no way for him to know that short of the characters telling him, or some form of houserule on the visual effects of spells. Same as him knowing the chance of success on the diplomacy, even if the gm tells him, his character does not in fact know that, because how could he know that?


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Thomas Long 175 wrote:
Darinby wrote:
Thomas Long 175 wrote:
Once again, they were speaking draconic. He didn't know a word of what they were saying, only that people who had been fighting a minute ago were speaking a strange language at each other. In a world where speaking in a strange language is a common prelude to a fireball coming out of midair this isn't always the best sign, especially for a character without the "knowledge" of a monster's capabilities, or a decent spellcraft.

Even someone without spellcraft can tell the difference between two people fighting/casting spells at each other and two people TALKING in a strange language.

You know how we know that? The GM specifically told the PC "you can tell they appear to be talking with him in a language you don't know and they aren't fighting". The Paladin can tell the other PCs are talking and not fighting/casting spells. He knows what his party members look like when they are fighting, he know what they look like when they are casting spells.

1. That's flat wrong, you don't know what a spell being cast looks like unless you use a spellcraft. True spellcraft is to tell you the specific spell, but beyond that, short of houseruling, there is no real difference between a componentless spell being cast and 2 people talking at each other emphatically in a strange language who use their hands a lot.

2. A lot of spells, including the one i mentioned, are instantaneous. Aka, they will stand there and wave their arms until something happens in the flash of a second. That second not being on the paladins turn to act. While it is true that this all happens "simultaneously" he does not see the effects of said spell and thus know any form of difference until the spell actually goes off.

3. The GM telling him that he knows they aren't fighting and him acting on that knowledge is in fact metagaming because there is no way for him to know that short of the characters telling him, or some form of houserule on the visual effects of spells....

Yeah, the initial attack is kinda justifiable. Not good, but misunderstandings happen.

The execution while the other party members are trying to save the Wyvern and are telling him that they were negotiating... that's not a misunderstanding, that's killing a helpless foe who had A) surrendered and B) shown a willingness to talk rather than fight to the death.

That's not a misunderstanding, that's like the cops shooting a guy after they've already cuffed him (Unconscious isn't quite the same as cuffing the wyvern, but you get what I mean).


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FuelDrop wrote:

Yeah, the initial attack is kinda justifiable. Not good, but misunderstandings happen.

The execution while the other party members are trying to save the Wyvern and are telling him that they were negotiating... that's not a misunderstanding, that's killing a helpless foe who had A) surrendered and B) shown a willingness to talk rather than fight to the death.

That's not a misunderstanding, that's like the cops shooting a guy after they've already cuffed him (Unconscious isn't quite the same as cuffing the wyvern, but you get what I mean).

1. Its been pointed out several times already that you are never required to accept anyone's surrender with the exception of a paladin of one specific Deity. How do we know? Because that specific deity makes special mention that Her paladins do in fact have to do it.

2. A helpless foe who attacks people on sight, may not ping as evil but shows no signs of good either, and when let go may very well go straight back to killing innocents. He only chose to try and talk because he was in danger of being killed. Honestly I wouldn't trust this thing even if you put a flat greater geas on it to attain paladinhood.

  • Based on the description as written (Inherently violent, only allows creatures around that give it treasure, does not try diplomacy unless forced or bribed) honestly I don't see how this thing isn't evil.

    I mean seriously think about it. A human that gets up everyday and every human he comes into contact with he beats up and/or kills because he doesn't consider talking worth his time unless they're stronger than him. He'll serve people that are dangerous enough to kill him, or that pay him a good chunk of money, but once the dough stops rolling in you got a good chance of him killing you anyways. Sound like a violent sociopath? Sure does to me. Not somebody I'd say should be wandering the streets.


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    Thomas Long 175 wrote:

  • Based on the description as written (Inherently violent, only allows creatures around that give it treasure, does not try diplomacy unless forced or bribed) honestly I don't see how this thing isn't evil.

    I mean seriously think about it. A human that gets up everyday and every human he comes into contact with he beats up and/or kills because he doesn't consider talking worth his time unless they're stronger than him. He'll serve people that are dangerous enough to kill him, or that pay him a good chunk of money, but once the dough stops rolling in you got a good chance of him killing you anyways. Sound like a violent sociopath? Sure does to me. Not somebody I'd say should be wandering the streets.

  • That sounds like more PCs than I care to think *Shudders*


    Intent makes up part of how an act is aligned. Just because what he did saves some people, doesn't make it neutral* if he did it for evil reasons**.

    * Killing a sentient being who doesn't want to die is an inherently evil act. In my view of alignment, the goodness of the intent and consequences will hardly ever, if at all, swing the resulting alignment of the act further than neutral.

    ** Killing a sentient being just because you want to kill something is evil.


    Thymus Vulgaris wrote:

    Intent makes up part of how an act is aligned. Just because what he did saves some people, doesn't make it neutral* if he did it for evil reasons**.

    * Killing a sentient being who doesn't want to die is an inherently evil act. In my view of alignment, the goodness of the intent and consequences will hardly ever, if at all, swing the resulting alignment of the act further than neutral.

    ** Killing a sentient being just because you want to kill something is evil.

    Excuse me, intent only matters in modern day times, and not even in all portions of the world here. Even then, many people do not agree intent matters at all.

    And no, killing a sentient being who doesn't want to die is not an inherently evil act. There is no such thing as "inherent" evil. If you cannot find a reason for your argument, that means it does not have a logical premise behind it and thus is wrong. You do not just get to say "This is true because i say so."


    Thomas Long 175 wrote:
    You do not just get to say "This is true because i say so."

    Actually you do... However that doesn't mean it is valid.


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    Thymus Vulgaris wrote:


    * Killing a sentient being who doesn't want to die is an inherently evil act.

    Yes I imagine most people don't want to die. Guess that makes most adventurers evil. /what point are you trying to make


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    Some really sound, intelligent points. Also, a lot of silly tripe that seems to me to roll out at the end of the day as elevating "good" to synonymous with "stupid".

    To weigh in. Charging in on the heels of battle to drop an aggressor who initiated the combat in the first place is not in and of itself an "evil" act. Considerations of the scenerio or not there simply isn't the convenience of time for the Paladin to go through the laundry list of why's and what fors as I understand the play to have ocurred.

    However.

    Slaying a vanquished, defenseless foe, who no longer poses to you or your companions a direct threat of death or injury, in the aftermath? Very clear Fall.

    Sidenote for the sake of stating the obvious: Your player isn't capable of playing a paladin to begin with.


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    I agree this particular's player in game justification isn't a good one, and I think the DM's decision is legit. Wyverns in Pathfinder are also different from wyverns in AD&D. In Pathfinder, you stand a chance of parleying with a wyvern and coming out with a fair arrangement (Wyverns are neutral) unlike AD&D in which wyverns were evil. "
    Evil" is not just a relative term in most fantasy settings. After all, you've divine beings of absolute good and evil. You have spells and powers that can detect auras of evil. It's not hypothetical, it's not relative. It is. Nothing would obligate a paladin to accept a chaotic evil demon worshipper's parley or surrender. A cannibalistic demon worshipping gnoll who cast aside its sword begging for mercy could receive the paladin's coup-de grace. And as a DM, I would not say the paladin fell.

    Good isn't stupid. And evil in the game is real. The moment those demon worshippers decided to raid farms and sacrifice farmers to their demonic lord, was the moment the paladin could refuse quarter.


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    First, I'd like to offer kudos to the GM in question for introducing enemies that are actually willing to parlay, or who don't look down at tactical withdrawals. All too often, pen-and-paper enemies are strangely suicidal creatures.

    From there...

    Quote:

    ALIGNMENT

    Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral.

    By virtue of its Intelligence score (7), wyvern doesn't qualify as an animal. That same INT score, however, makes them less capable of being reasoned with. This is further complicated by the fact that a wyvern is aggressive, violent, constantly hungry, and will only cease violence when it recognizes superior force or when it is sufficiently bribed.

    That willingness to "settle" for someone else's flattery, intimidation, food, and treasure is precisely what makes them non-evil. At the risk of making an ill-advised comparison, consider the difference between a murderer and a thug running protection/extortion rackets in a neighborhood.

    Quote:

    Good Versus Evil

    Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

    Emphasis is mine.

    Quote:

    A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.

    Chaotic good combines a good heart with a free spirit.

    I think we can all agree that gaming alignment doesn't truly capture the nuances of real-world morality. There's admittedly a lot of play allowed by the descriptions above.

    For instance, the paladin's player could easily argue he had no obligation to protect they wyvern, since it obviously wasn't innocent. Following the "moral compass" of the chaotic good, he could argue that the wyvern was a clear danger to innocents who might have chanced into its hunting grounds unwittingly and without intent of exploiting the resources the creature claimed for itself. He could argue that an untrained and unarmored peasant/merchant/traveler could have perished from any one of the wyvern's attacks.

    That others don't agree with the paladin isn't relevant - that's a key part of being chaotic good. Now, let's say that one of the paladin's allies stood between him and the wyvern and beseeched him to stop, for they had realized that the wyvern's attack had been a misunderstanding. If the paladin attacks his ally - whom he presumably knows to be good and trustworthy - that's a clear-cut evil act. Absent that context, though, the paladin in question is acting to kill a creature that he knows - from first hand experience - is willing to level deadly force without reasonable cause/provocation.

    I mention that as my contribution to the ongoing debate. Clearly, though, from what the GM has described the player's response wasn't informed by the above thought process. "I was attacked and it made me angry" is primal and not significantly different from the reaction the wyvern might have if some random adventurer started shooting it with arrows. It is at this point that I believe the GM bears some responsibility. The GM is the director of the storyline, and he is also the arbiter in deciding how the game plays out. He's not the party's opponent - at least he shouldn't be - and (assuming this was a first offense on the part of the player) he shouldn't level punishment on account of ignorance of the rules.

    ***

    Where a coup-de-grace and the paladin are concerned, I don't get the issue. When you attack someone with a lethal weapon, your intent is to kill them. When you are a paladin and you attack someone with a lethal weapon, it should be because that someone is evil and has (presumably) debased or destroyed innocent life in some way. Any decision to spare an evil enemy's life when they become helpless (whether through surrender or through helplessness of some sort) should come down to the paladin's code, which should in turn be informed by their religious doctrine.

    Bottom line (well, where my opinion is concerned), if the paladin's god empowers them to seek out evil and kill it, it becomes a bit of a stretch to say they are at fault for doing so when said creature at the paladin's mercy. It's akin to saying, "Well, we'll kill evil if we can do so in the midst of the continuum of combat, and we don't need a judicial process of determining guilt to justify doing so... but if they surrender we have to take them prisoner... and if they are subsequently found guilty we have to lock them up forever, since they're technically at our mercy then and executing them would make us evil."

    It takes us right back to the fact that gaming alignment can't capture the nuances of real-world morality. :)


    Kalthanan, I agree for the most part with just about everything that you have presented towards the discussion. The only point that I think we have a difference of opinion on is held within this paragraph specifically. Granted, that we would want to pay consideration to the Diety the paladin worships carefully whilst navigating the slippery slope of adjudication:

    Quote:
    “Bottom line (well, where my opinion is concerned), if the paladin's god empowers them to seek out evil and kill it, it becomes a bit of a stretch to say they are at fault for doing so when said creature at the paladin's mercy. It's akin to saying, "Well, we'll kill evil if we can do so in the midst of the continuum of combat, and we don't need a judicial process of determining guilt to justify doing so... but if they surrender we have to take them prisoner... and if they are subsequently found guilty we have to lock them up forever, since they're technically at our mercy then and executing them would make us evil."

    Except that it is a treacherous ruling to assume that “fighting evil” is in anyway identical to “slaying evil”. What is the definition of a paladin if not holding to a significantly higher moral compass than the rest of the world? Are paladins not, by their very nature the embodiment of heroic qualities like Honor, Valor, and indeed Mercy? I will admit that I disagree very strongly with permitting a chaotic paladin in the first place, since in my opinion it is the component of LAW that truly makes a paladin a paladin. To speak in broad stroke generalizations, a chaotic paladin that takes lethal action based off of subjective and personal directive is at best an example of vigilante justice, and not an example of a holy crusader that fights for things much larger than him or herself. I believe a paladin does what they do for the greater good, their stories are not (or should not) be rooted in personal directive and perception.

    The component of Law in a paladin’s alignment ensures that even a clearly evil force has an inherent right to judgement. Note I said judgement and not trial. Trial indicates a mortal set of laws and stricture to determine guilt of deed. Judgement suggests that there exists accountability and effect stemming from one’s actions, determined by a structured power. That being said, I realize that has little to nothing to do with the question posed by the OP so I won’t elaborate overmuch here.

    I suppose what I am saying is that if a given player has no interest in following things like moral compasses, codes of conduct, chivalric dogma or in general acting like what I would call the “classic” examples of paladin-like behavior, why would they not play an entirely different class progression?

    A cleric or oracle based Holy Vindicator for example. What exactly can a paladin really do (beyond fluff and flavour) that say one of these two options could not with careful feat and spell selection? And, I would be so bold as to suggest, without all of the worry about whether or not these exact types of situations ever create the potential for a Fall from godly grace.

    Great discussion though. I don't mean to single you out specifically, but you made some really good points.


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    kalthanan wrote:
    Bottom line (well, where my opinion is concerned), if the paladin's god empowers them to seek out evil and kill it, it becomes a bit of a stretch to say they are at fault for doing so when said creature at the paladin's mercy. It's akin to saying, "Well, we'll kill evil if we can do so in the midst of the continuum of combat, and we don't need a judicial process of determining guilt to justify doing so... but if they surrender we have to take them prisoner... and if they are subsequently found guilty we have to lock them up forever, since they're technically at our mercy then and executing them would make us evil."

    That would be relevant if the creature was evil, it wasn't.

    Wyvern for reference:
    Wyvern

    A dark blue dragon, its wings immense and its tail tipped with a hooked stinger, lands on two taloned feet and roars a challenge.
    Wyvern
    CR 6
    XP 2,400
    N Large dragon
    Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +18
    DEFENSE
    AC 19, touch 10, flat-footed 18 (+1 Dex, +9 natural, –1 size)
    hp 73 (7d12+28)
    Fort +9, Ref +6, Will +8
    Immune sleep, paralysis
    OFFENSE
    Speed 20 ft., fly 60 ft. (poor)
    Melee sting +10 melee (1d6+4 plus poison), bite +10 melee (2d6+4 plus grab), 2 wings +5 (1d6+2)
    Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
    Special Attack rake (2 talons +10, 1d6+4)
    STATISTICS
    Str 19, Dex 12, Con 18, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 9
    Base Atk +7; CMB +12 (+16 grapple); CMD 23
    Feats Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Skill Focus (Perception)
    Skills Fly +5, Perception +18, Sense Motive +11, Stealth +7; Racial Modifier +4 Perception
    Languages Draconic

    thomas wrote:

    1.Based on the description as written (Inherently violent, only allows creatures around that give it treasure, does not try diplomacy unless forced or bribed) honestly I don't see how this thing isn't evil.

    2.I mean seriously think about it. A human that gets up everyday and every human he comes into contact with he beats up and/or kills because he doesn't consider talking worth his time unless they're stronger than him. He'll serve people that are dangerous enough to kill him, or that pay him a good chunk of money, but once the dough stops rolling in you got a good chance of him killing you anyways. Sound like a violent sociopath? Sure does to me. Not somebody I'd say should be wandering the streets. (numbered by me so that I could respond to both points)

    1.What makes it not evil is that (in my opinion) it doesn't know any better. It has the wisdom and intelligence to LEARN to do better, oh wait it did until it was needlessly decapitated.

    2.The difference is a sociopath has a broken mind (mental condition) that can only (possibly) be fixed through medication. The creature has no such defect and is just untrained.
    I would say a better analogy would be a kid raised in the wild. Yes it is wild and attacks people who get close. Yes it may hurt or kill someone. But that isn't because it is irredeemably evil, it's because that it all it has known and it doesn't know better. I'm not saying that everyone should overlook being attacked by it but a paladin who is supposed to uphold all that is good definitely should.
    Someone mentioned that it may go on to attack/kill hundreds or some such and you can use "the greater good" argument all you want, but the truth is this was a simple murder of vengeance.

    Liberty's Edge

    Kalthanan wrote:
    Bottom line (well, where my opinion is concerned), if the paladin's god empowers them to seek out evil and kill it, it becomes a bit of a stretch to say they are at fault for doing so when said creature at the paladin's mercy. It's akin to saying, "Well, we'll kill evil if we can do so in the midst of the continuum of combat, and we don't need a judicial process of determining guilt to justify doing so... but if they surrender we have to take them prisoner... and if they are subsequently found guilty we have to lock them up forever, since they're technically at our mercy then and executing them would make us evil."

    Again, not to rehash old points...but neither I nor anyone else have spoken against a Paladin being able to perform summary executions under the right circumstances (and I'd actually peg this exact situation plus an Evil Alignment on the victim as close enough to the right circumstances...I'll explain why in a moment).

    The issue, in this specific situation, is that first the only crime they knew the wyvern had performed (attempted murder) had some mitigating factors, and was the only crime they knew it had committed, now a detectably Evil character who'd done the same thing...you have pretty good evidence he'd done that sort of thing before, and a pattern of theft and murder is a valid reason for execution, interrogating him before executing him would be ideal...but probably not absolutely required. A Neutral person? They might've done this before...or not. Hard to say.

    And second, the Paladin didn't execute the wyvern to keep it from hurting people or anything like that. He was fine with the other PCs raising it, remember? He did it because it angered him. That's...pretty Evil.


    Deadmanwalking wrote:
    Kalthanan wrote:
    Bottom line (well, where my opinion is concerned), if the paladin's god empowers them to seek out evil and kill it, it becomes a bit of a stretch to say they are at fault for doing so when said creature at the paladin's mercy. It's akin to saying, "Well, we'll kill evil if we can do so in the midst of the continuum of combat, and we don't need a judicial process of determining guilt to justify doing so... but if they surrender we have to take them prisoner... and if they are subsequently found guilty we have to lock them up forever, since they're technically at our mercy then and executing them would make us evil."

    Again, not to rehash old points...but neither I nor anyone else have spoken against a Paladin being able to perform summary executions under the right circumstances (and I'd actually peg this exact situation plus an Evil Alignment on the victim as close enough to the right circumstances...I'll explain why in a moment).

    The issue, in this specific situation, is that first the only crime they knew the wyvern had performed (attempted murder) had some mitigating factors, and was the only crime they knew it had committed, now a detectably Evil character who'd done the same thing...you have pretty good evidence he'd done that sort of thing before, and a pattern of theft and murder is a valid reason for execution, interrogating him before executing him would be ideal...but probably not absolutely required. A Neutral person? They might've done this before...or not. Hard to say.

    And second, the Paladin didn't execute the wyvern to keep it from hurting people or anything like that. He was fine with the other PCs raising it, remember? He did it because it angered him. That's...pretty Evil.

    As I recall the only reason this thing is neutral is because its straight out of the bestiary, alignment wise. Something I virulently disagree on. How on earth is something that always resorts to violence first ever neutral?

    Someone compared it to organized crime vs a murderer. Both of those fit on the evil spectrum. Heck this thing pretty blatantly falls under neutral evil!

    As compared to neutral evil

    Neutral Evil wrote:

    A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusions that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn't have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has.

    Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.

    Neutral evil represents pure evil without honor and without variation.

  • Does whatever it's capable of
  • Doesn't care about killing, for any reason
  • No codes, orders or traditions to speak of


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    TBH I don't think it really matters who's right and who's wrong at this point. A good rule of thumb is if the action that would make the Paladin fall is so hotly disputed with good points on both sides...it's not fall worthy. Falling should really only be reserved for things that are pretty clearly and undeniably evil.


    Korthis wrote:

    1.What makes it not evil is that (in my opinion) it doesn't know any better. It has the wisdom and intelligence to LEARN to do better, oh wait it did until it was needlessly decapitated.

    2.The difference is a sociopath has a broken mind (mental condition) that can only (possibly) be fixed through medication. The creature has no such defect and is just untrained.
    I would say a better analogy would be a kid raised in the wild. Yes it is wild and attacks people who get close. Yes it may hurt or kill someone. But that isn't because it is irredeemably evil, it's because that it all it has known and it doesn't know better. I'm not saying that everyone should overlook being attacked by it but a paladin who is supposed to uphold all that is good definitely should.
    Someone mentioned that it may go on to attack/kill hundreds or some such and you can use "the greater good" argument all you want, but the truth is this was a simple murder of vengeance.

    1. Ignorance of the law is never an excuse. It doesn't hold up in modern day society. Its certainly not going to hold up in a time frame where the law was certainly more ruthless, so even without the whole "medieval vs modern morality" conundrum this point has not one bit of validity behind it.

    2. Stop using mental disorder excuse. I've got a few, been in the mental home. I know a good number who have rather severe ones that honestly have been said to be incapable of ever functioning in society. I was said to be at one point. That's all garbage. I work 50 hours a week, pay bills, hold a steady job and have several friends. Oh and lets see, I know how to hold my dang temper and not go on murderous rampages no matter what voices say! Oh and lets see, NO MEDS. Stop using that crap excuse!

    3. Paladins are indeed virtuous. One of the main ones being JUSTICE. Whether you believe they should err on the side of justice or mercy is something best left to their code or god, but there are blatantly 2 virtues he could have chose from here.


    thomas wrote:

    1. Ignorance of the law is never an excuse. It doesn't hold up in modern day society. Its certainly not going to hold up in a time frame where the law was certainly more ruthless, so even without the whole "medieval vs modern morality" conundrum this point has not one bit of validity behind it.

    2. Stop using mental disorder excuse. I've got a few, been in the mental home. I know a good number who have rather severe ones that honestly have been said to be incapable of ever functioning in society. I was said to be at one point. That's all garbage. I work 50 hours a week, pay bills, hold a steady job and have several friends. Oh and lets see, I know how to hold my dang temper and not go on murderous rampages no matter what voices say! Oh and lets see, NO MEDS. Stop using that crap excuse!

    3. Paladins are indeed virtuous. One of the main ones being JUSTICE. Whether you believe they should err on the side of justice or mercy is something best left to their code or god, but there are blatantly 2 virtues he could have chose from here.

    1. So in your book a child raised by animals who wanders into a city and attacks and kills someone should go to jail and be tried for murder. Thats interesting but far from moral.

    2. I think you are misunderstanding my post. You mentioned a sociopath (a person with a mental disorder) I said it is NOT a mental disorder, it is a lack of training/understanding. You can teach a person who doesn't know better to do better. You can't teach a sociopath how to feel empathy.
    3. I think you are also misunderstanding the the word JUSTice. It has to do with the balance between being just and unjust and equality. (or to quote "A just man is one who habitually wills such a relation of equality, always, constantly, consistently, wherever and whenever there is a debt or something owing") If you want to go by justice then he is still in the wrong because the wyvern didn't kill him and he did kill the wyvern... just sayin.


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    One last contribution and then I think I’ll have said more than my fair share.

    In cases of GM adjudication you MUST deal in specifics. You cannot consider well-if-thens, you must only rule based off of what you know to be factual (note that there are exceptions to this fundamental policy). There DO exist a number of possibilities to justify this particular Paladin’s actions. Except that we know that he murdered this particular foe not out of any perception of holy justice, but because the beast had angered him. It was, as has been mentioned above, executing a murder for vengeance sake.

    We cannot rule on the basis of what we “believe” the creatures alignment to be (unless of course the DM has specifically already chosen to make that house rule amendment). The Wyvern as canon is neutral. It’s a particularly violent and primal neutral to be sure. The creature acts almost solely out of primal instinct.

    Like a particularly vicious or aggressive dog that attacks anything that enters its self-proclaimed territory one could argue. Now, there IS a very strong argument for putting down that particular dog. There is an equally strong potential to argue that with proper training that dog could become a loyal and faithful pet. But in this case, if the information that has been presented is factual and accurate, then the paladin has (again in my opinion) most definitively Fallen. Not for attacking the creature, but for summarily executing the wyvern once the danger had been overcome and the foe vanquished.

    Let me reiterate. The instant that THIS paladin executed his CdG for the “heinous” crime of an instinctive creature doing what that instinctive creature does, and not for virtuous or altruistic justice, it becomes murderous and he has Fallen. Short of a God of Murder that somehow possesses paladins of His or Her faith, this is not a grey area of debate here folks. This particular situation, if accurate, is excessively clear. In my humble opinion anyway.

    Now, let’s not forget the great spontaneous rp that can occur out of this type of a scenario. Quests for Atonement and a return to Grace can be amazingly passionate and personal sidebars for any character. And for what it’s worth, it lets your player know that as a DM you have limits, AND that actions possess consequence.


    Korthis wrote:

    1. So in your book a child raised by animals who wanders into a city and attacks and kills someone should go to jail and be tried for murder. Thats interesting but far from moral.

    2. I think you are misunderstanding my post. You mentioned a sociopath (a person with a mental disorder) I said it is NOT a mental disorder, it is a lack of training/understanding. You can teach a person who doesn't know better to do better. You can't teach a sociopath how to feel empathy.

    3. I think you are also misunderstanding the the word JUSTice. It has to do with the balance between being just and unjust and equality. (or to quote "A just man is one who habitually wills such a relation of equality, always, constantly, consistently, wherever and whenever there is a debt or something owing") If you want to go by justice then he is still in the wrong because the wyvern didn't kill him and he did kill the wyvern... just sayin.

    1. Children do not go to jail unless specifically tried as an adult which is not done unless they are within 2 years of adulthood and commit seriously heinous crimes. Please know your law before using it. And no, its still moral, he still did it. The child belongs in a correctional facility where the bad behavior will, dear lord, be corrected.

    2. I'm telling other people not to use it. They keep using it and its irritating. Mental disorders are a poor excuse at best to say that you can be excused from your actions. You have to be so severely impaired that you are either beneath the 3 int prereq aka not really an intelligent being, or incapable of even truly perceiving reality (intense hallucinations and such). Even those can be dealt with by people who wish to. I know a few who do.

    3. The wyvern only didn't kill him because it was incapable of doing so. It would have if it were capable. By your own "intent is law" thats same as. Even without it I don't put attempted murder far beneath actual murder. Regardless, the wyvern "attempted" to kill him and he reciprocated. The fact that he is inherently more capable does not make it less equivalent.

    Edit: And Aazhog, apparently it is not clear as many have disagreed with you across several pages of debate. Many even stated that him "executing" it, even without trial and such, is not in fact an evil action. The only thing you really have to stand on right now is intent, and the only thing you have intent off of is that he's willing to allow it to be raised later. You don't know why he's willing.

    Did it ever occur to you that in a world where everyone gets a free raise dead, killing it and then converting it to good by any number of ways of speaking with spirits while its dead is far safer to the general populace? There's no chance of it breaking its word, no chance of running amok, it felt no extra pain cause it was already unconscious and frankly decapitation is a very quick way to go.

    At the end of the day, this paladin eliminated a threat that had attacked him that could still be spoken with, still be negotiated with, and subsequently brought back if it did change alignment.


    thomas wrote:

    1. Children do not go to jail unless specifically tried as an adult which is not done unless they are within 2 years of adulthood and commit seriously heinous crimes. Please know your law before using it. And no, its still moral, he still did it. The child belongs in a correctional facility where the bad behavior will, dear lord, be corrected.

    2. deleted because it is no longer relevant since you weren't referring to me.

    3. The wyvern only didn't kill him because it was incapable of doing so. It would have if it were capable. By your own "intent is law" thats same as. Even without it I don't put attempted murder far beneath actual murder. Regardless, the wyvern "attempted" to kill him and he reciprocated. The fact that he is inherently more capable does not make it less equivalent.

    I keep somehow missing the mark in my explanations...

    1. The debate went a)you*I don't see how they aren't evil > b) me*they aren't evil because they don't know any better - analogy about child in the wild > c)you*ignorance is no excuse now and never was > d) me* so by that logic a child who doesn't know any better goes to jail? > e) you*of course not don't be daft!
    My point in 1 was to say that it is unreasonable to kill someone who doesn't know better when they can learn to do better. I never claimed that i know (or care about) the laws necessary to convict and try a child for a crime, I was simply trying to build a bridge between our two viewpoints. I would say confining a (person/child/wyvern) who can do better but doesn't know to do better and teaching them proper etiquette is moral, knocking them out and decapitating them is not.
    2. See inside the quote
    3. I would say that you are confusing justice and vengeance. A claim for justice could have been made with the first attack, the coup de gras pushed it far into the vengeance category.
    justice and vengeance for reference:
    The word "justice" comes from the Latin word jus, which means "right". What we mean by right is that which is equal, for right implies a relation of equality. If an unjust state of affairs is "made right", we mean that a certain equality has been established. If you lend someone a certain amount of money, it is right for you to receive back what you lent (commutative justice). You have a right to receive your due, and the other has an obligation to render your due. And so where there is a right, there is a debt of sorts, an obligation on the part of someone else to establish a relation of equality, that is, to make things right (jus). A just man is one who habitually wills such a relation of equality, always, constantly, consistently, wherever and whenever there is a debt or something owing.
    ven·geance
    noun \ˈven-jən(t)s\

    : the act of doing something to hurt someone because that person did something that hurt you or someone else


    I put more of a definition on justice because I believe it requires more of an in depth look. Justice isn't about what could have happened and what may have happened, that is "minority report" territory. Justice is about doling out fair treatment to both sides based on what actually occurred. Hence, an eye for an eye (which while just isn't a good way to build character). Looking at it objectively I would actually say justice is more in the "neutral" camp than the "good" camp.

    *edit: Also, I never said intent is the law. I will argue that intent is important but results matter more. If I intended to do a good thing but many people die I should be held accountable regardless of my intention (for instance). Therefore actual results > intent. The law, as I am sure you are aware, also agrees as murder has a far stiffer penalty than attempted murder. so you can not say the wyvern's attempted murder = paladin's coup de gras because that is not equal and not justice.
    *edit #2: Also people keep throwing around raise dead like it's free. Who is spending the tremendous amount of gold to bring the wyvern back to life to possibly conform it? Also, if we are trivializing death to the degree that it doesn't matter because raise dead exists then the same argument can be made for most of the evil people in the world. "I kill because I like it, but it's cool. Someone can just bring them back to life if they really care."

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