Why Is Evil Being Good So Important To Some People...


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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I also haven't seen any evidence for objective morality being an actual rule.

If there were one I would probably ignore it. It is a terrible idea.

Scarab Sages

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Kaladin the Radiant wrote:

I'm also not seeing the source of "all morality in Golarion is absolute". Spells and such? Yeah, I rationalize that as, as mentioned, the magic being powered by supernatural force tied to that alignment. But that doesn't mean all morality is absolute, even in the setting. Summoning lantern archons is Good because you're drawing on Good energy and power, which would presumably affect the state of one's soul. Whether to forgive the orphan kid who stole bread from you, that's still not involving supernatural forces of any kind, at least not by default, so I see no reason there should be some arbitrary line in the sand making some choices 100% good and others 100% evil.

Anyone got a source for there being ONLY objective morality in Golarion, not just that evil spells are evil and praying to evil deities is evil? (Or the reverse, of course.)

You didn't note it, so I will. It is not just good/evil morality. Lawful and chaotic actions(IE casting a lawful or chaotic spell) also has an effect on your alignment. Specifically along the law/chaos axis.

Which may well have more effect than good and evil spells due to the fact that lawful/chaotic actions are even harder to judge when they aren't explicitly a lawful or chaotic action by their very nature. So it is harder to counterbalance.

Interestingly there is no such thing as a 'neutral' type. Even though there are dedicated neutral forces. Which may well mean objective neutral is a composite of objective good and objective evil and not a separate force unto itself.


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HWalsh wrote:


Quote:
I don't like black and white morality. Yes, some things can be good. Yes, some things can be bad. But what makes one one, the other, or something in between should vary by circumstance. It makes for more interesting scenarios.
This is, as you say, a personal opinion. I, personally, don't think interesting scenario always equates to, "Do whatever you want without consequence." Which is sort of, to me, what this line of thinking represents.

"No consequence"? No.

Consequences based on the actual intent, action, and result of what you're doing, rather than an arbitrary line in the sand laid down.

HWalsh wrote:
Quote:
By the rules, someone doing something Good for selfish reasons is doing a Good act. Ditto someone doing something Evil for Good reasons is doing an Evil act.

Yes. However, and I need to state this plainly, we are talking about magic. That idea boils magic down to, "Do I want to use my hammer or do I want to use my sword?"

Magic isn't supposed to be that. You are playing around with arcane and divine power that, ultimately, dwarfs you, and it is supposed to be something that you do with great care. It is not just another tool to use, not in the lore, and if a player/character starts thinking about it in terms of, "This is the next click ability I plan on using." Then the game loses a lot of flavor.

That ISN'T what the lore describes, however. It's barely even hinted at in the setting. Magic is a powerful tool, used and abused by humans and else for millenia. There is absolutely no discussion in the lore of what magic IS besides what it can DO.

No lore describing where it comes from, no lore describing magic having some kind of purpose or existence besides what it's used for, not even lore describing magic as some force outside of the people using it...magic is the science of this world, anyone with the proper intelligence, force of personality, or willpower being able to impose their will on reality.

Even the setting's god of magic is just a wizard who blew himself up. Which, honestly, is kind of refreshing, since nearly EVERY setting feels the need to try and explain magic beyond "Magic exists here, that's a fact as much as gravity".

HWalsh wrote:

If someone wants to use Infernal Healing to heal a dying child, let me put into context what you are doing. You take the blood of a devil, an infernal creature that seeks only to spread torment and devour souls, and anoint the brow of the child with it. Then you call to an evil power (as the descriptor of the spell is evil) and infuse the child with it. While the rules state this has no long term affect on the target's alignment... That darkness takes a toll... On your alignment if used too often and without caution.

So, do you cast it, make a pact with dark powers, and save the child... Or do you simply go, "Meh. I'm a castin' mah spell!"

There is no "pact with dark powers" though. Plenty of spells have weird, funky material components. When you cast Haste you're not "making a pact with rabbits" any more than you're making a pact with a devil by casting Infernal Healing.

If the spell had made the effort of explicitly stating so (like quite a few other spells do, explicitly stating "You call on tthe powers of X to do Y") you'd have a point, but this is you back-end rationalizing WHY it's Evil rather than using what is written (which was the point of the thread I thought?).

You even admit what is written says "This has no long term effect on the subject" and continue justifying.

HWalsh wrote:
The same goes with summoning forth Angels. You are basking in the glory of legitimately divine beings constantly. Touching almost pure physical Good. Over time, such a thing, absolutely would have an effect.

I would imagine it would, yes.

"Man, look how much more powerful I am than these extraplanar beacons of Good!"

Seriously think about it: If you had the power to enslave an angel, would you be inclined to see them as beings you should look up to? Or more inclined to treat them as servants and slaves have been treated throughout history? Except shinier and with wings.

But again...neither of these have any indicator in either the rules or lore. You're justifying what is written making sense with your own headcanon.

Which, let's be clear is not a bad thing. I like the explanations, though I don't agree with all of them. That sort of table variation is neat.

But it's not actually indicated at anywhere in the lore. It's just a cold statement for seemingly no reason other than somebody felt like slapping a label on something one day.


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Just remember, when you torture foes, summon angels to do it so the good and evil balances out... :P

It's good to know that all you bad deeds can be washed away with a a few days of spellcasting... :P

Scarab Sages

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@ Sundakan
Infernal Healing uses what is in the material component(objective evil energy) instead of calling up objective evil energy. You can use either the blood of something objectively evil or water that has been enhanced with objective evil energy.

That explains the [evil] descriptor. As manipulating or summoning objective alignment energy/beings with a spell makes the spell of that type.

But... that leads to an interesting thought. If you use unholy water is that an evil act? And is using holy water a good act?


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Kaladin the Radiant wrote:
I'm also not seeing the source of "all morality in Golarion is absolute". Spells and such? Yeah, I rationalize that as, as mentioned, the magic being powered by supernatural force tied to that alignment.

Considering you can objectively discern and individuals morality... morality is objective in Pathfinder, unless you use a variant rule such as those in Pathfinder Unchained that remove the objective morality traits.

Scarab Sages

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graystone wrote:

Just remember, when you torture foes, summon angels to do it so the good and evil balances out... :P

It's good to know that all you bad deeds can be washed away with a a few days of spellcasting... :P

Even better... summon two angels and have them torture each other.

Scarab Sages

Milo v3 wrote:
Kaladin the Radiant wrote:
I'm also not seeing the source of "all morality in Golarion is absolute". Spells and such? Yeah, I rationalize that as, as mentioned, the magic being powered by supernatural force tied to that alignment.
Considering you can objectively discern and individuals morality... morality is objective in Pathfinder, unless you use a variant rule such as those in Pathfinder Unchained that remove the objective morality traits.

Morality is both subjective and objective in Golarion. You can kill someone and sometimes it is a good act and sometimes it is evil. That is subjective. But if you summon an angel it is a good act always. Or if you summon an archon that is a lawful and good act always. That is objective.

Also your alignment is objective. If you are chaotic evil... you are chaotic evil and forces can interact with you due to that fact. It is a tangible part of your being and not a vague idea.


We are playing a game that (among other things) tries to tell epic, heroic fantasy stories. Yes, I know some prefer other styles of playing, but the game still moves in that direction. And as soon as anyone tries to play evil characters, the campaign falls apart from intra party backstabbing, ultra douchebaggery and sheer idiocy. Ideally, it should be possible to play any alignment including CN and CE, but no such luck. So many try to allow evil characters, but only LE ones, right? Given this, the game is perfectly justified in an objective alignment scale, so you don't get into s%&! arguments about "my character comes from a culture where it is good to torture children to death" and the like.

There is also no point to symmetry. The limits are there to prevent you from doing bad things. To keep you cooperating, and able to cooperate with. Summon evil creatures, you infect the world somewhat, that makes sense. Summoning good creatures is an entirely different prospect, and shouldn't necessarily make you good.

You don't have to like it. You have to play by the rules. They work, and that is justification enough. And hopefully, you can find a group that is able to deal with alignment or the lack of it where you can play your antihero without going full moron, imploding the group, or squicking the others out.


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Sissyl wrote:

...

Given this, the game is perfectly justified in an objective alignment scale, so you don't get into s#!& arguments about "my character comes from a culture where it is good to torture children to death" and the like.

Funnily enough, that's not what usually causes these alignment debates.

What does tend to cause them is things like "why is using Circle of Protection from Good to hinder a Lillend Azata considered an evil act even if the Azata was summoned by an evil wizard to butcher orphans for giggles." The problem is that a lot of people find that the alignment system isn't particularly useful when trying to promote heroic fantasy stories. Not when you move away from "is eating babies wrong"(where you don't really need alignment) and start heading to gray zone areas like "my wizard could save this dying orphan with a scroll of Infernal Healing, but that would be wrong because Infernal Healing is eeeevvvviiiillll". It makes people ask why the alignment system even tries to go into that much detail if it isn't going to be a useful tool in those circumstances.


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Sissyl wrote:
And as soon as anyone tries to play evil characters, the campaign falls apart from intra party backstabbing, ultra douchebaggery and sheer idiocy. Ideally, it should be possible to play any alignment including CN and CE, but no such luck.

Speak for yourself. That's an immaturity problem, not an alignment one.

Those same people will be douchebags no matter what alignment is written on the box, and it'll show through eventually regardless.

I've played in and run several successful games with PCs of all sorts of alignments (including an...interesting Serpent's Skull game where nearly every party member was evil. We shacked up with the Aspis Consortium and got paaaid yo).


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I feel like I would have saved myself a lot of time and stress when I quit repetitive threads like this if I hadn't ended up just switching over to politics. >.>

Like Sundakan said, it's about maturity, not alignment. Some alignments are harder, though, since players are often rather eager to be disruptive if given the excuse. With such players, I recommend forcing Neutral Good. It's the only alignment that I've never seen screwed up that badly (I mean, how do you screw up the "Don't be a dick" PC?). Chaotic Good can get by, I guess.


Kaladin the Radiant wrote:

I'm also not seeing the source of "all morality in Golarion is absolute". Spells and such? Yeah, I rationalize that as, as mentioned, the magic being powered by supernatural force tied to that alignment. But that doesn't mean all morality is absolute, even in the setting. Summoning lantern archons is Good because you're drawing on Good energy and power, which would presumably affect the state of one's soul. Whether to forgive the orphan kid who stole bread from you, that's still not involving supernatural forces of any kind, at least not by default, so I see no reason there should be some arbitrary line in the sand making some choices 100% good and others 100% evil.

Anyone got a source for there being ONLY objective morality in Golarion, not just that evil spells are evil and praying to evil deities is evil? (Or the reverse, of course.)

It's really about the core rules, not specficially Golarion.

As an example casting a spell with the evil descriptor is an evil act, even if you do it for a good reason.

Some will say your intentions will cancel out the evil of the spell, so the casting of the spell is no longer evil.

Some say that good is good because it takes the hard road and refuses to use evil methods, even if they are minor.

The common trope I see brought up is killing baby to save millions of lives. I am surprised it has not come up here yet.


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Lorewalker wrote:
Morality is both subjective and objective in Golarion. You can kill someone and sometimes it is a good act and sometimes it is evil. That is subjective.

Not really, it just means that the objective-nature takes all the inputs into account when it determines what objective alignment that act is, rather than just a single input. I mean, when you flip a coin many factors decide whether it Objectively lands either heads or tails, from air-resistance, gravity, weight of the coin, strength of the flip.

It would be subjective if what is good and what is evil changed based on different individuals perspectives and attitudes, but it doesn't.

Quote:
And as soon as anyone tries to play evil characters, the campaign falls apart from intra party backstabbing, ultra douchebaggery and sheer idiocy. Ideally, it should be possible to play any alignment including CN and CE, but no such luck.

That may be your experience, but many have had good experiences with evil PC's.

Scarab Sages

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I think the ultimate question here is... as always... is, 'is it fun?'
Is it fun to track your actions and casts to decide whether or not you belong on Santa's naughty list?

If yes? Well, do it. I can see it being interesting if it was somehow streamlined with a form and spreadsheet made before hand. You could end up being surprised by your alignment and then playing that new alignment.

But if not? Don't worry about it. Paladins and clerics of good gods can't cast evil spells and vice versa. But otherwise it doesn't need to matter.


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I think the reason that people rebel against alignment is that even the idea of an objective morality is infuriating to some people for real world reasons.

Liberty's Edge

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It's also not helped that while we have a alignment system it's also too open ended. I played many games from Palladium books and mechanics aside of the system. Their alignment system has everything listed in point form what a character can do. I never had problems with Lawful Stupid Paladins or dirty harry style Paladins. For every "well you can't do that it's against your alignment" from a player more often than not yes that player was playing with his alignment. For example will a pc torture someone. Yes/no, only for a good cause. It's almost all there.

I know some here dislike having everything written down with alignment and prefer a unwritten free form style. Which I can respect yet to me at least here and outside of the forums it seems to cause more problems then they solve.

It's also not helped with a personal bias from the devs. Don't offer something like infernal healing if you really don't want people taking it. Some of the mechanics make no sense as well. As some have pointed out casting evil spells makes someone evil. Does that now mean that someone who is evil who casts good spells is now good. Simply by casting enough spells with the good descriptor.

Liberty's Edge

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Sissyl wrote:
And as soon as anyone tries to play evil characters, the campaign falls apart from intra party backstabbing, ultra douchebaggery and sheer idiocy.

As some have already said it's a player issue who lack maturity not a alignment. By that logic that means that Paizo evil AP is going to be unplayable then. It's not to say I have not had my share of those who do behave like the above. I have also seen the rare evil pc played well.

Scarab Sages

I've always seen the use of evil spells and simular things as a slippery slope leading downwards... Sure It can be effective, and someone with a good heart could indeed use it for good means.... but man if you slip up.... its a long slide down.

And for those who think to just counteract the bad spells with good ones, its much harder to climb up that slippery slope than to slide down it, so I dont think balancing yourself or bringing yourself back to good should be so easy...

Just my opinion of course.

Also I find people wanting to play Evil as evil as they can be can be mildly uncomfortable to some people. Would that evil bandit lord decide he should poison the caravan they captured, use the men and woman of an attractive nature as playthings and murder the children because of the baggage they might become be realistic... Sure. But when players at your table have young children, or a sister or cousin who was sexually assualted, or a friend or family member murdered coldly or tortured or something might have a problem with it, and they indeed might not bring those issues up before hand. Its a social game and frankly having social manners is kind of... important. Its certainly why I dont like having mixed alignments in games I play in. Just makes it easier for everyone to get along and have fun...

(and no I'm not saying it can't be fun to have mixed alignments in a game, just that well it certainly requires good mature players.)


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Quote:
I've always seen the use of evil spells and simular things as a slippery slope leading downwards... Sure It can be effective, and someone with a good heart could indeed use it for good means.... but man if you slip up.... its a long slide down.

Many people see killing sentient beings in the same light, and yet the game does not portray it in such a manner.


I thought they called it objective morality because of the inevitable objections to it...

Liberty's Edge

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Milo v3 wrote:
Quote:
I've always seen the use of evil spells and simular things as a slippery slope leading downwards... Sure It can be effective, and someone with a good heart could indeed use it for good means.... but man if you slip up.... its a long slide down.
Many people see killing sentient beings in the same light, and yet the game does not portray it in such a manner.

It doesn't? I'd argue it totally does portray killing in such a manner. Killing isn't inherently an Evil action, but it sure does need to be done carefully to not be.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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IMO alignment shouldn't be a math equation. Casting and Evil spell may be an Evil act, and casting a Good spell may be a Good act, but neither of those thing on their own are going to determine your alignment no matter how often you do them. I mean, how many orphanages do you have to donate money to, to make up for burning down one? How many little old ladies do you need to help across the street to make up for a murder spree?

Casting an Evil spell is like stealing money from the tip jar. It makes you a not perfect person but if the rest of your life is pretty good it doesn't make you Evil, just a jerk. Similarly if your day job is spent ruining people's lives and you decide to give $5 to someone on the street it doesn't "make up" for it.

Also, to most people's perceptions, it's easier to be Evil than Good. Just look at the language we use - people "fall" to evil or "slide" into it, like gravity pulls us that way all the time and we must actively resist it. Here's a handy chart:
Ends: Good Means: Good -> Action: Good
Ends: Good Means: Evil -> Action: Evil
Ends: Evil Means: Good -> Action: Evil
Ends: Evil Means: Evil -> Action: Evil

Basically if any step in the action is "tainted" by evil, the whole thing is evil. Now, one can argue the validity of this idea, but for a lot of people good is something that has to be maintained actively, and evil is a difficult pit to climb out of.


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HWalsh wrote:

3. This thread is to discuss why people rail against the system in such a mass when the rules are pretty clearly defined.

Well, can't agree with that premise.

On the other hand, alignment thread, so shots!

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
With such players, I recommend forcing Neutral Good. It's the only alignment that I've never seen screwed up that badly (I mean, how do you screw up the "Don't be a dick" PC?)

I could answer that question, but you seem to still have some faith in humanity left and I like you, so I won't ruin that :)


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Ok, we can talk about the problems until were blue in the face, but it's far more important to talk about solutions.

wikipedia wrote:
In chemistry, a solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of two or more subs-

Jokes aside, here's the thing. There are two standard debates in regards to alignment. First is, "what counts as good and what counts as evil?" The second is, "do actions determine alignment or does alignment determine actions?" I'm going to address the second first because it's easier; and the answer is "yes". This is like the "nature vs nurture" argument in behavioral science; it is a false dichotomy. Actions and Alignment ought to have a mutually reciprocal relationship; they reinforce one another. Good actions lead to a good alignment and a good alignment ought to, in turn, lead to good actions.

In regards to good and evil, there are a few things to consider. First is that the relationship is not symmetrical. They shouldn't just be presented as two opposing but equal sides; each side has their own particular quirks, advantages, and disadvantages. To wit:

AD&D Complete Paladin's Handbook wrote:
Though DMs may experiment with any type of character they like, we discourage the use of anti-paladins. Good and evil are not merely mirror images of each other. Just as the forces of evil have their unique champions, the paladin is intended as a unique champion of good. The paladin originates from a tradition of dynamic balance, in which the forces of good are few and elite and in which forces of evil are numerous and of lesser quality. Allowing anti-paladins blurs this basic relationship.

This relationship manifests in several ways. For instance, an Evil character, almost unilaterally, considers good acts as means to an ends. How often does the evil character "pose" as someone good? By contrast, truly good characters often look with particular disdain at the practice of using evil acts as means to an ends. Even the description of Neutral alignment emphasizes the asymmetry; a neutral character has compunctions against killing, but lacks the conviction to go out of their way and, especially, to put themselves at risk, in order to prevent someone's death (directly or indirectly). A person using evil acts for good ends would usually be classified as neutral while an evil character using good acts for evil ends is just par for the course. Then, there is the matter of what you do afterwards. If a good character, by matter of circumstance, must compromise their morals, complex things happen upstairs. They experience moral quandaries, self-doubt, ethical dilemmas, and maybe even a need to seek forgiveness or repentance. That's why there are spells like Atonement. Evil characters... not so much. Evil characters don't usually seek "forgiveness" for helping someone. That's actually a very shallow type of behavior to act as "morality accountant" and try to figure out how many orphans you need to kill to make up for acting like a good guy. Additionally, what's the difference between a Good wizard and an Evil wizard? Evil wizards don't care much about collateral damage while Good wizards would have a moral tenancy to rein in their power to void harming others. How should this reflect in their magic? Evil wizards would be better at area spells while Good wizards would be better at precise spells.

Another point is that the alignment table is actually missing an axis. Good/Evil has taken on the role of Heroes/Villains; Villains are presumed to be Evil and Heroes are presumed to be Good. It makes Heel/Face turns (and vice versa) very hard to pull off. In a way, it cheapens moral quandaries. On the cube of alignment, the two-axis chart we have sort of cuts at an angle.

So, with all this in mind, here is what I propose as an ultimate "fix" for alignment issues.

1) Recast the alignment chart from Good-Neutral-Evil to Cooperative-Independent-Competitive, and Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic to Conservative-Liberal-Radical. Several creatures' standard alignments would need to be adjusted to account for the differences in moral tone.

2) Clearly define what counts as what alignment. Bonuses should be granted to actions that match your alignment and saves against actions that would grossly contradict your alignment (eg. you try to kill the helpless opponent, but just can't bring yourself to do it). Cooperative alignment should offer bonuses to teamwork feats and Aid Another actions, penalties to DCs on spells that require saves, and bonuses to hit on attack rolls. Competitive alignment should offer penalties to teamwork feats and Aid Another actions, bonuses to DCs on spells that require saves, and bonuses to damage rolls. Conservative alignment would offer bonuses to Will saves, but penalties to Reflex, and can Take 11 instead of Take 10. Radical alignment would offer penalties to Will saves, but bonuses to Reflex, and take half the time to Take 20. The Neutral equivalents, of course, offer no bonuses nor penalties.

3) Planar alignment energies are recast. Good-Evil are replaced by Radiant and Umbral. Lawful and Chaotic are replaced by Harmonic and Primal. Characters and classes that draw on planar energies to fuel their abilities (ie. Clerics, Paladins, Inquisitors, etc) will be suffused with these energies and gain subtypes based on them. This really hammers in the notion that Paladins are "fueled by radiance". These energies also involve saves against certain "gross misconduct" similarly to the "mortal alignments", but in a much stronger and more absolute and polarized manner.


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ryric wrote:


Also, to most people's perceptions, it's easier to be Evil than Good. Just look at the language we use - people "fall" to evil or "slide" into it, like gravity pulls us that way all the time and we must actively resist it. Here's a handy chart:
Ends: Good Means: Good -> Action: Good
Ends: Good Means: Evil -> Action: Evil
Ends: Evil Means: Good -> Action: Evil
Ends: Evil Means: Evil -> Action: Evil

Basically if any step in the action is "tainted" by evil, the whole thing is evil. Now, one can argue the validity of this idea, but for a lot of people good is something that has to be maintained actively, and evil is a difficult pit to climb out of.

This isn't the thread for this, but I've always had a really huge problem with this idea. What's easy is apathy. It's easy to just stop caring. If something's too hard or would exact too much of a cost, you can just stop caring and tell yourself you never really cared that much in the first place. Apathy is a kind of emotional entropy. It may make the world a worse place, but I think it's kind of a stretch to call it evil. Both capital G Good and capital E Evil require a lot of investment on the part of the person in question. Both are a serious uphill battle. More often than not, capital E Evil can be boiled down to trying to get at something that you're not supposed to have or do something that you're not supposed to do. You open yourself up to a lot of personal risk doing stuff like that, and I think it's disingenuous to undermine just how much work it can be.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
It doesn't? I'd argue it totally does portray killing in such a manner.

Considering killing is the default modus operandi for the game... No it definitely does not portray killing as a slippery slope. There is a reason why superheroes traditionally don't kill, not even when they fight the worst of the worst when it comes to bad guys.

Quote:
Killing isn't inherently an Evil action, but it sure does need to be done carefully to not be.

In many peoples opinions it needs to be done more carefully than it is done in D&D to be considered "right" in real life. Many parts of the world do not do death sentences for criminals because of such a mindset.

Sovereign Court

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Milo v3 wrote:

There is a reason why superheroes traditionally don't kill, not even when they fight the worst of the worst when it comes to bad guys.

Arguably it was just the comics code (instituted because there were groups who thought that comic books were destroying our morality/culture - later versions of the same people attacked D&D and video games... earlier versions attacked jazz, MUCH earlier versions such as Socrates attacked reading & the written word).

I would point out that war movies rarely portray the killing of enemies as a slippery slope. Even when they portray war as dehumanizing, it's the constant threat of death & their buddies dying which seem to be the cause, not the killing of enemy combatants.


ryric wrote:

IMO alignment shouldn't be a math equation. Casting and Evil spell may be an Evil act, and casting a Good spell may be a Good act, but neither of those thing on their own are going to determine your alignment no matter how often you do them. I mean, how many orphanages do you have to donate money to, to make up for burning down one? How many little old ladies do you need to help across the street to make up for a murder spree?

Casting an Evil spell is like stealing money from the tip jar. It makes you a not perfect person but if the rest of your life is pretty good it doesn't make you Evil, just a jerk. Similarly if your day job is spent ruining people's lives and you decide to give $5 to someone on the street it doesn't "make up" for it.

Also, to most people's perceptions, it's easier to be Evil than Good. Just look at the language we use - people "fall" to evil or "slide" into it, like gravity pulls us that way all the time and we must actively resist it. Here's a handy chart:
Ends: Good Means: Good -> Action: Good
Ends: Good Means: Evil -> Action: Evil
Ends: Evil Means: Good -> Action: Evil
Ends: Evil Means: Evil -> Action: Evil

Basically if any step in the action is "tainted" by evil, the whole thing is evil. Now, one can argue the validity of this idea, but for a lot of people good is something that has to be maintained actively, and evil is a difficult pit to climb out of.

The answer is the same: an equal amount.

You have to help an equal amount of ladies to a murder spree: if we count helping old ladies a good act. But it isn't so meh. Seriously, it is nice and chivalrous, but not a good act.

Now, how many babies do you have to create to balance your murder spree? That is more equal because creating life balances life taken.

How many Orphanages do you build to counter the ones you burned? The same amount. Did you donate the cost of an orphanage? Then you helped build one so good on you, you still have the other ones to build.


Starbuck_II wrote:

The answer is the same: an equal amount.

You have to help an equal amount of ladies to a murder spree: if we count helping old ladies a good act. But it isn't much of one so meh. Seriously, it is nice and chivalrous, but not an extremely good act.

Now, how many babies do you have to create and raise from selfless reasons without an evil or excessively neutral objective to balance your murder spree? That is more equal because creating life and nurturing it to maturity without evil intent balances life taken.

How many Orphanages do you build to counter the ones you burned? The same amount presupposing you didn't kill anyone with said burnings. Did you donate the cost of an orphanage and to those programs that explicitly aid in orphan protection and assistance? Then you helped build one so good on you, you still have the other ones to build.

It really isn't quite that simple.

Taking, stealing, destroying - all require effort, but are far easier than giving, building, and producing.

Being kind means sacrifice of some kind - personal sacrifice of some kind (whether or not the person doing so sees it as such). Being cruel means merely not caring if your actions harm someone (whether or not the person doing so sees it as such).

There is a lot of nuance to be found in an objective system (which Pathfinder has by default), although much of it seems glossed over by the "hard" (coded/written) objective parts.

But I'm super-sleep deprived, so wwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee~!

Liberty's Edge

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Milo v3 wrote:
Considering killing is the default modus operandi for the game... No it definitely does not portray killing as a slippery slope. There is a reason why superheroes traditionally don't kill, not even when they fight the worst of the worst when it comes to bad guys.

Which superheroes? Both Captain America and Superman have killed people, and they're two of the nicest and most righteous superheroes ever.

Also, see here for a complete analysis of why superheroes are a terrible comparison for Pathfinder characters.

Short version: Pathfinder characters usually aren't in situations where they can just arrest people and send them to jail, and lack the power level to defeat most of their opponents without going all-out, which results in deaths.

Milo v3 wrote:
In many peoples opinions it needs to be done more carefully than it is done in D&D to be considered "right" in real life. Many parts of the world do not do death sentences for criminals because of such a mindset.

Most people agree that killing in self-defense and being a soldier are not inherently immoral acts. The vast majority of killing inherent in Pathfinder is far more analogous to those situations than to executions.

And executions seem entirely reasonable, morally speaking, to me.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Considering killing is the default modus operandi for the game... No it definitely does not portray killing as a slippery slope. There is a reason why superheroes traditionally don't kill, not even when they fight the worst of the worst when it comes to bad guys.

Which superheroes? Both Captain America and Superman have killed people, and they're two of the nicest and most righteous superheroes ever.

Have, but traditionally don't. Generally go to great lengths to avoid doing so, even trying to save their murderous enemies from the deaths they bring onto themselves.


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Not even close to long enough

Liberty's Edge

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thejeff wrote:
Have, but traditionally don't. Generally go to great lengths to avoid doing so, even trying to save their murderous enemies from the deaths they bring onto themselves.

That'd be where the rest of my analysis comes in, if you follow the link. :)


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Have, but traditionally don't. Generally go to great lengths to avoid doing so, even trying to save their murderous enemies from the deaths they bring onto themselves.
That'd be where the rest of my analysis comes in. :)

Yeah, much of which I agree with. I just don't like pointing at the exceptions of a superhero's behavior and waving the moral arguments aside based on that.

Mind you, you could run a pretty super-heroey game in PF, doing little more than changing a bit of emphasis and probably focusing more on city based adventures where captives could easily be turned in, at least until the PCs had quick easy transportation (teleport) to bring them home.

I'd say it's far more of a genre expectations thing than a mechanics or even a setting thing. But that's drifting even farther from topic, other than to say that in the traditional D&D/PF genres "killing the bad people to stop them from doing the bad things" isn't evil and isn't even the top of a slippery slope. Change that for your campaign as you wish, but it's pretty much the default.

We've mostly moved from the "killing the bad types of creatures is fine, even if they're not really doing anything bad" stance, though again, individual games will vary.


Well alignment rules by RAW put lot of the judgements into GM's hand.

Also alignment works best at a macro scale. Sure, killing a person is Evil. But not very much. The mass of humanity lives in small amounts of alignment, doing things benefiting their deities. Lot of small streams make the large river.

So to me, it is like any stat that you can gain or lose. You can, at times, pay small penalty for "using the wrong" alignment. But it is all in the scale that you and the GM had to agree one. You might not even become Evil by eating a baby, or another. Maybe it is the third baby is the point when you cross over into Evil, who knows.

Also I love it when purity of alignment is hostile to all neutral humans. We all have streaks of vice, no doubt about it. And extremist purist of any alignment would allow none of such thing.

Sovereign Court

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Deadmanwalking wrote:


Milo v3 wrote:
In many peoples opinions it needs to be done more carefully than it is done in D&D to be considered "right" in real life. Many parts of the world do not do death sentences for criminals because of such a mindset.

Most people agree that killing in self-defense and being a soldier are not inherently immoral acts. The vast majority of killing inherent in Pathfinder is far more analogous to those situations than to executions.

And executions seem entirely reasonable, morally speaking, to me.

In addition, many people who are against capital punishment aren't against it because they think it's inherently wrong, but instead due to an acknowledgement of our justice system being imperfect. (While certainly not common - one person is one too many wrongfully convicted people on death row.)

However, when a Pathfinder character catches a villain red-handed such doubts don't apply.


From the scope of other people, it does.

"We caught Joey Badguy red handed. He had just killed the innocent girl. Of course we killed him. Execution. No doubt of guilt."
"Funny thing, you guys... The girl was killed by a sword wound. And you said he wielded an axe."
".... And a sword. Right. Sword."
"And you are all armed with swords. And both the girl and Badguy had freeze marks along the sword wounds, just like would be inflicted by your frost brand. As have sixty previous cases connected to your earlier executions."
*adventurer shoves his frost brand through the investigator's head*
"Guys, we need to update the story..."

Sovereign Court

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Sissyl wrote:
From the scope of other people, it does.

Assuming a scenario where the adventurers aren't murderhobos and were correct that Joey Badguy was the murderer of the little girl, then what others think has only to do with what they think of the trustworthiness of adventurers and nothing to do with the actions' inherent morality. (The former issue is actually a big advantage of having a paladin in the party since, due to their code, the general populace would inherently trust him.)


Sundakan wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
And as soon as anyone tries to play evil characters, the campaign falls apart from intra party backstabbing, ultra douchebaggery and sheer idiocy. Ideally, it should be possible to play any alignment including CN and CE, but no such luck.

Speak for yourself. That's an immaturity problem, not an alignment one.

Those same people will be douchebags no matter what alignment is written on the box, and it'll show through eventually regardless.

I've played in and run several successful games with PCs of all sorts of alignments (including an...interesting Serpent's Skull game where nearly every party member was evil. We shacked up with the Aspis Consortium and got paaaid yo).

LOL It sounds like Sissyl was playing with a kender, not an evil character. Evil has nothing in them for "intra party backstabbing, ultra douchebaggery and sheer idiocy". :P


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Starbuck_II wrote:
Now, how many babies do you have to create to balance your murder spree? That is more equal because creating life balances life taken.

So your argument is getting laid balances murder sprees on the good-evil scale?!

0_^
As we would have said in Paranoia: Citizen, you've got more Chutzpah, than a Red Cleanliness Officer with an orifice vacuum in a Violet Zone.


In the end it is up to the GM with input from his players to decide what is good and what is evil in his game. People have never agreed what is good and what is evil.
For example in the game Im playing in now selling defeated Orcs and goblins into slavery is acceptable. Yet many of the people in other games who say that is evil see no problem killing Orcs and Goblins to the last child


An important part of this that people are missing, is we are talking about Evil/Dishonorable only in cases where it is defined.

Namely specifically only in cases where the rules define it. For example, casting a spell, for any reason, with the Evil descriptor.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

People have argued about that?


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"HWalsh wrote:
If someone wants to use Infernal Healing to heal a dying child, let me put into context what you are doing. You take the blood of a devil, an infernal creature that seeks only to spread torment and devour souls, and anoint the brow of the child with it. Then you call to an evil power (as the descriptor of the spell is evil) and infuse the child with it. While the rules state this has no long term affect on the target's alignment... That darkness takes a toll... On your alignment if used too often and without caution.

Let's say this was true. That means, in order to save a dying child, you taint your own soul. So basically, you are sacrificing part of yourself to save dying children.

Sorry, but that is pretty much the very definition of an unequivocally good act.

That is why "people rail against the system": Because if the alignment system tells my that there's something evil about selflessly sacrificing parts of myself to save dying children, I say the system is broken. Also, if I'd want to hear "It's evil because we say so, even though we give absolutly zero reason, yet you have to accept that our word is the law" I'd go to catholic school and not play Pathfinder.

I'm kinde tempted to quote Immanuel Kant here.

Milo v3 wrote:
There is a reason why superheroes traditionally don't kill, not even when they fight the worst of the worst when it comes to bad guys.

I have to chime in here and say a good part is because the comic code doesn't allow them to (or did not in the past).

This might be a bit off topic:
Many of the characters, along with most of the public knowledge about superheroes (for example Superman's Fortress of Solitude), comes from the so called Silver Age of Comic Books, a time were due to severe censorship regulations, not even the bad guys like the Joker could kill. Even after the Comics Code got severly weakened, we expect superheroes to act like before. The are quite a few anti-hero characters (especially from the 90s) that do kill, but that time is generally not looked upon kindly (it's dubbed the "Dark Age of Comic Books). Indeed, before the Comics Code, characters like Superman and Batman where known to kill.

Also, the "no kill policy" sometimes gets completly rediculous. Probably the worst example is "Legion of Three Worlds", set in the 31st century, were a team-up of a large number of superheroes has to deal with Superboy Prime. Prime is basically an evil version of Superman from another universe. Among his many evil deeds is the destruction of one of the earths from the multiverse purely out of anger and spite (the earth isn't "perfect enough"), therefore killing nearly seven billion people in that scene alone. Beforehand, Prime broke out of a custom made prison in the center of a red sun (which supposedly made made him powerless, like red sun radiation does with Superman), and constantly guarded by multiple members of the Green Lantern Corps, basically the super powered police force of the universe.
To the titular Legion(s), there is absolutly no known way to imprison this billionfold murderer, and yet when one of them suggest that they might need to kill him, all the others react with extreme dismissal.
All in all, not one of DCs best comics.

TimD wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
Now, how many babies do you have to create to balance your murder spree? That is more equal because creating life balances life taken.
So your argument is getting laid balances murder sprees on the good-evil scale?!

In that case, I'm off to the women's penitentiary!


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Derklord wrote:
"HWalsh wrote:
If someone wants to use Infernal Healing to heal a dying child, let me put into context what you are doing. You take the blood of a devil, an infernal creature that seeks only to spread torment and devour souls, and anoint the brow of the child with it. Then you call to an evil power (as the descriptor of the spell is evil) and infuse the child with it. While the rules state this has no long term affect on the target's alignment... That darkness takes a toll... On your alignment if used too often and without caution.

Let's say this was true. That means, in order to save a dying child, you taint your own soul. So basically, you are sacrificing part of yourself to save dying children.

Sorry, but that is pretty much the very definition of an unequivocally good act.

That is why "people rail against the system": Because if the alignment system tells my that there's something evil about selflessly sacrificing parts of myself to save dying children, I say the system is broken.

OTOH, if "tainting your soul" doesn't make you evil, what does it do? That's a thing I like. You're corrupting yourself, sacrificing your goodness to save others. A Good person dealing with the devil for noble reasons - and still falling in the process.

Because that's what dealing with the devil does.


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Corathonv2 wrote:
I think the reason that people rebel against alignment is that even the idea of an objective morality is infuriating to some people for real world reasons.

It's more that while there is objective morality in my worldview, I don't really have that much interest in a cartoony narrative where evil humans twirl their mustaches and try to blow up the world "for the lolz". I like evil people to be people, with varying motivations and varying mannerisms. Some of them are pure evil, others are well-intentioned, and others are actually pretty likable but are willing to stoop to total depravity to achieve their ends.

People who oppose that are ignoring a basic fact: The alternative to "evil people can be good" (where you have Evil-aligned characters who mostly act decent aside from a few bad things) is "good people can be evil" (where you have Good-aligned characters who mostly act decent aside from a few bad things).

So my question is, why are the advocates of this thread either determined for Good characters to act evil or determined to eliminate moral complexity in characters?


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"Sorry, you can't go to heaven, you saved to many dying orphans. Burn in hell for that wicked deed!"

Shadow Lodge

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Alignment in PF is written to reflect morality. It certainly would be interesting to use an alignment system in which we “replace 'good' and 'evil' with stand-ins that lack moral implications, such as 'radiant' and 'shadow',” doing so is presented as a variant rule (Unchained p 101), indicating that the moral implications of “good” and “evil” in the main rules is intentional.

Generally speaking I prefer that the morality in my games match up with my own moral thinking. I don't think I'm alone in this given the design team's previous concerns regarding whether LG Torag was portrayed as genocidal, or LG Erastil was too patriarchal, neither of which would be a problem if “meh, game morality is different” was an acceptable response.

I see morality in terms of some sort of harm. You can debate about where you look for the harm - harmful means, intent to harm, net total of harm, whether potential or abstract harm qualifies (eg your partner didn't know about the infidelity, but it would have hurt them if they knew so it's immoral) - but if there's not even a potential harm to be found it's not evil. And the general description of alignment seems to agree with that, seeing as it describes evil as "hurting, oppressing, and killing others."

Thus, when I see something that is described as "evil" but does not seem to involve any harm, it clashes with my sense of morality and causes the same sort of discomfort as if someone had told me that torturing goblin infants was a "good" action.

The only way I can see resolving this sensibly is either to assume that [evil] spells cause subtle unseen harm (every time you cast Infernal Healing, a devil gets its horns) or to say that it has a corrupting influence on your later actions - while casting Infernal Healing isn't itself harmful it somehow makes you more willing to cause harm in the future. Neither of them is stated in the rules, and the latter reverses the usual rule that behavior determines alignment (in that the sequence runs "cast evil spell" > "alignment shift towards evil" > "perform harmful actions" instead of "perform harmful actions" > "alignment shift towards evil").

ryric wrote:
Casting an Evil spell is like stealing money from the tip jar. It makes you a not perfect person but if the rest of your life is pretty good it doesn't make you Evil, just a jerk. Similarly if your day job is spent ruining people's lives and you decide to give $5 to someone on the street it doesn't "make up" for it.

The thing is, I wouldn't call someone who cast Infernal Healing to save a life “a jerk.” I wouldn't even say the action was a “jerk move” - unless you add unwritten consequences to that action such that casting the spell actually causes some kind of harm somewhere.


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Derklord wrote:
"Sorry, you can't go to heaven, you saved to many dying orphans. Burn in hell for that wicked deed!"

thejeff argued that sacrificing pieces of oneself is true selflessness and should be regarded as Good.

So isn't it worth considering that the greatest sacrifice would be accepting going to Hell to save a dying orphan? If so, saying, "Nevermind, you get to stay in Heaven" is sort of reducing the act's meaning.

I think a lot of people would say that "evil means for good ends" is a perfectly acceptable standard for a complex Evil character. So the question becomes, why do you regard the Evil alignment as so utterly unacceptable? Just play your character and accept the cosmological verdict later.

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