Are Undead Always Evil?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Saethori wrote:
Set wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Post-death Obiwan Kenobi.
Force ghosts don't count, since they only form from good Jedi and not evil Sith, according to one interpretation I've read.

How did Anakin Skywalker pull it off, then? I would be skeptical if that last hour of remorse was enough to pull an alignment 180.

Though it puts the whole practice of people waiting until their deathbed to repent in a whole different light...

The process for becoming a force ghost has not remained consistent throughout the franchise. Yoda in RotS implies that Qui-Gon was the first person to become a force ghost, and his force ghost taught Yoda how to do it. But, then, it's unclear when Anakin could have learned how to become a force ghost.

Also, in Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Kenobi's ghost somehow enhances Luke's lightsaber skills beyond where they are in the next movie, and then that power of force ghosts is never mentioned again.

At the end of the day, George Lucas changed his mind a lot during development, and Lucas changing his mind is the source of a lot of continuity errors in SW.


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137ben wrote:
Saethori wrote:
Set wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Post-death Obiwan Kenobi.
Force ghosts don't count, since they only form from good Jedi and not evil Sith, according to one interpretation I've read.

How did Anakin Skywalker pull it off, then? I would be skeptical if that last hour of remorse was enough to pull an alignment 180.

Though it puts the whole practice of people waiting until their deathbed to repent in a whole different light...

The process for becoming a force ghost has not remained consistent throughout the franchise. Yoda in RotS implies that Qui-Gon was the first person to become a force ghost, and his force ghost taught Yoda how to do it. But, then, it's unclear when Anakin could have learned how to become a force ghost.

Also, in Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Kenobi's ghost somehow enhances Luke's lightsaber skills beyond where they are in the next movie, and then that power of force ghosts is never mentioned again.

At the end of the day, George Lucas changed his mind a lot during development, and Lucas changing his mind is the source of a lot of continuity errors in SW.

So the reason the EU contradicted itself is because each was projected from a different Splinter of the Lucas Eye?


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I spent much of my between-scan tour time yesterday doing research. Nowhere in the Core Rulebook does it say that Undead must be Evil. The descriptions in the Bestiary indicate Evil behavior. Open the CRB to the section where alignments are discussed, and compare it to the descriptive text of each Undead creature. However, if you want to houserule exceptions, be my guest. I won't stop you or tell you that you're wrong. It is your game, after all.


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JonathonWilder wrote:

Fair enough, though at the same time what is important is not allowing such concepts to be common in the setting and to built it in a way that could make sense. Pathfinder does have a Goddess of Redemption, as such the consideration that there might be a handful of redeemed undead, evil monsters, devils, and demons is something I feel would be appropriate for the setting.

For a player and his character, whats common is determined by what he encounters.

In theory, almost of Drow are extremely Evil, but when the drow most people think about is Drizzt then they stop seeming so scary.

Similarly, when the party includes neutral or undead, thats what the players are going to use as a reference.


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johnlocke90 wrote:
JonathonWilder wrote:

Fair enough, though at the same time what is important is not allowing such concepts to be common in the setting and to built it in a way that could make sense. Pathfinder does have a Goddess of Redemption, as such the consideration that there might be a handful of redeemed undead, evil monsters, devils, and demons is something I feel would be appropriate for the setting.

For a player and his character, whats common is determined by what he encounters.

In theory, almost of Drow are extremely Evil, but when the drow most people think about is Drizzt then they stop seeming so scary.

Similarly, when the party includes neutral or undead, thats what the players are going to use as a reference.

That said, this goes both ways. For example, my stronger references on the fey are a lot worse than my stronger references on any variety of humanoid.


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Personally, I'm a lot more concerned about players thinking "it's a dark-skinned elf, it must be evil, let's kill it!" than "the Drow aren't scary enough."

I mean, you can be plenty scary with just humans, it's not what you are that makes you scary, it's what you (can) do.


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I second that. Judge others not by their appearance, but by their actions.


Oh why! Wherefore ist thy speaketh thine name! Woe! Woe onto thee that speaketh of thee, for whence it was about calling the dead to do thy bidding.

Verily.


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Shakespearean Drizz't wrote:

Oh why! Why fore ist thy speaketh thine name! Woe! Woe onto thee that speaketh of thee, for whence it was about calling the dead to do thy bidding.

Verily.

I don't know that much undercommon, but to my understanding, wherefore is the word you are looking for rather than "whyfore."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Thanks! It's been a while since I brushed up on my Shakespeare. :-)


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Saethori wrote:
taks wrote:
Shea Hoarfoot wrote:
Zombies are. Not evil ... Just Hungry.......
They are NE, actually... and hungry.
Exactly! They are NE! Not Evil!

??? The E does stand for Evil, last time I checked. Maybe I'm missing something...


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
taks wrote:
Saethori wrote:
taks wrote:
Shea Hoarfoot wrote:
Zombies are. Not evil ... Just Hungry.......
They are NE, actually... and hungry.
Exactly! They are NE! Not Evil!
??? The E does stand for Evil, last time I checked. Maybe I'm missing something...

It's a joke. Using NE to stand for Not Evil instead of Neutral Evil as it actually means.


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Saethori wrote:


It's a joke.

Jokes are evil, everyone knows that. It's on Unwritten Paizo Rules, page 734.


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Sarcasm Dragon wrote:
Saethori wrote:


It's a joke.
Jokes are evil, everyone knows that. It's on Unwritten Paizo Rules, page 734.

I don't have that book. Paizo seems not to have written these unwritten rules.

Luckily, I prepare Protection from Evil enough times, that if I do fall to evil, a few quick casts are all that's necessary to make me a saint again, as far as the gods are concerned.

The Exchange

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If you say Drizzt you also have to say Elistraee.

The CG Godess of good Drows!

I'm sure that she had more than 1 follower. ^^

And a freewilled undead can choose his path....but have to fight his urges.


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Uh oh, Tacticslion is in this thread now! Quick, make a bunch of posts for him to favorite!
Is making posts in a thread that you know Tacticslion is reading an Evil action?

Dark Archive

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Personally, I'm a lot more concerned about players thinking "it's a dark-skinned elf, it must be evil, let's kill it!" than "the Drow aren't scary enough."

Hmm... yes, consideration of this does have some unfortunate implications. With how in a fantasy setting which has it that the black-skinned elves as evil and the light-skinned elves as good does have some racial connotations, even though most players and DM may very well not have given it a second thought.


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Sarcasm Dragon wrote:
Saethori wrote:


It's a joke.
Jokes are evil, everyone knows that. It's on Unwritten Paizo Rules, page 734.

The page is blank, admittedly. Unwritten and all. Still, it is all there in black and white.... I mean all there in white.


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John Napier 698 wrote:
I spent much of my between-scan tour time yesterday doing research. Nowhere in the Core Rulebook does it say that Undead must be Evil. The descriptions in the Bestiary indicate Evil behavior. Open the CRB to the section where alignments are discussed, and compare it to the descriptive text of each Undead creature. However, if you want to houserule exceptions, be my guest. I won't stop you or tell you that you're wrong. It is your game, after all.

I dont think must(as in 100%) was the argument being made. The argument is that evil is the default alignment and it is rare that they are not evil for most types of undead. As an example most ogre's are terrible creatures to be around, and they will likely kill and eat humanoids which they can get their hands on, but that does not mean that somewhere in fantasyland you can't find at least 1 good or civilized ogre.


True enough.


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but how many fairy tale ogres for one Shrek? same is true of undead.


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Depends on the campaign.


To the folks who bring up this question time and time again, I have to ask why?

1. Are you looking to play an undead character because it's edgy? If so, you're about a decade too late.

2. Are you looking to have it be socially acceptable for your necromancer to raid the local cemetary for his work force?

The Exchange

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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:

...

1. Are you looking to play an undead character because it's edgy? If so, you're about a decade too late.

LOL

What you asking people who play fighters, wizards, clerics and rogues?
Same for elves, dwarves and halflings?
Their 4 decades to late or what?!? ^^


Bearserk wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:

...

1. Are you looking to play an undead character because it's edgy? If so, you're about a decade too late.

LOL

What you asking people who play fighters, wizards, clerics and rogues?
Same for elves, dwarves and halflings?
Their 4 decades to late or what?!? ^^

I never claimed that any of my characters was "pushing the edge", "breaking the box" or whatever slogan is in fashion these days. :)

Look at my avatar.. it's as generic elf as one can get.


Bearserk wrote:

If you say Drizzt you also have to say Elistraee.

The CG Godess of good Drows!

It Drow, not drows. The word is it's own plural form.


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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
To the folks who bring up this question time and time again, I have to ask why?

From a GM perspective it's because NPCs who defy expectations are more interesting, and NPCs who cast a positive or redemptive light on a traditional monster that PCs have been deciding to kill on sight for decades is more interesting than "kill that monster on sight."

So the vampire who loves the city of his birth and puts a lot of his considerable riches towards public works policies (but may have an ulterior motive) is more interesting to me than "the vampire you kill because it's there."


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
To the folks who bring up this question time and time again, I have to ask why?

From a GM perspective it's because NPCs who defy expectations are more interesting, and NPCs who cast a positive or redemptive light on a traditional monster that PCs have been deciding to kill on sight for decades is more interesting than "kill that monster on sight."

So the vampire who loves the city of his birth and puts a lot of his considerable riches towards public works policies (but may have an ulterior motive) is more interesting to me than "the vampire you kill because it's there."

Such a character can still be as evil, or even more so than Dr. Doom. There is nothing about the general tendencies of undead that precludes having one-off exceptions.

The Exchange

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Yeah, an elf!

Some folk would ask why not a human but something nearly immortal or longliving, awesome magic potential, great weapons just by race, immunity to some spells and abilltys and thin and pale....

Oh wait, seems like elves are daylight vampires without the weaknesses... ;-)

Why make differences between fantasy creatures?

For me its a matter of taste!


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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Such a character can still be as evil, or even more so than Dr. Doom.

But they also don't need to be (I wouldn't say Dr. Doom is always evil either, he flickers between LE and LN depending on the story.) In practice, I find that when PCs are hunting for the solution to a mystery anything they find that pings on a detect alignment spell is going to be considered untrustworthy.

So if I want morally gray characters, I don't make them evil in a tangible way. Personally, I'd prefer to do away with alignment entirely in my games, but some people like it. So I prefer my vampires to be conflicted, my demons and devils to have legitimate grievances about the unfairness of universe a la Milton, and my Angels to be kinda jerks. Anything sapient whose alignment you can glean from looking at a bestiary I like to subvert that expectation from time to time.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Such a character can still be as evil, or even more so than Dr. Doom.

But they also don't need to be (I wouldn't say Dr. Doom is always evil either, he flickers between LE and LN depending on the story.) In practice, I find that when PCs are hunting for the solution to a mystery anything they find that pings on a detect alignment spell is going to be considered untrustworthy.

So if I want morally gray characters, I don't make them evil in a tangible way. Personally, I'd prefer to do away with alignment entirely in my games, but some people like it. So I prefer my vampires to be conflicted, my demons and devils to have legitimate grievances about the unfairness of universe a la Milton, and my Angels to be kinda jerks. Anything sapient whose alignment you can glean from looking at a bestiary I like to subvert that expectation from time to time.

Doom is that type of character who lulls the reader by being affable, almost even reasonable and benevolent at times until like Vlad Teppes, something relatively minor, causes him to reveal the cruel monster which lies beneath the civilised veneer. Or simply launches a scheme or contingency which reveals his true nature. Such as having Kristoff implanted with a clone of his personality.

If you really want to do away with alignment, you should ditch the classes and mechanics that ride on it.... like Paladins and their cousins. WarPriests with some tweaking such as ditching the alignment domains, would fill the function of Paladins in your game.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

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Removed a handful of posts and replies. Black Lives Matter is a serious topic and we are not comfortable with posts satirizing it.

Shaming other posters over their spelling and grammar is not welcome on paizo.com. Tangents into personal opinions on spelling and spell checking in forum posts would be best served by moving that conversation to a new thread.

Liberty's Edge

Fascinating thread!

As the person who wrote the White Necromancer class for Kobold Press, the subject of non-evil undead is something I know a little bit about :)

In fact, the Kickstarter for the newly revised, updated, and vastly expanded, full-color HARDCOVER version of the New Paths Compendium(the book the White Necromancer appears in) just launched yesterday. It contains the White Necromancer class itself, plus some White Necromancer archetypes, undead oriented spells etc

If you like the option of having undead that are not always evil in your game, I think the White Necromancer class is worth checking out!

You can check out (and hopefully decide to back! :) the New Paths Compendium kickstarter here

You can learn more about the project here

Liberty's Edge

Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you know the Expanded and Updated New Paths Compendium Hardcover is now available right here on Paizo.com!!

Expanded and Updated New Paths Compendium Hardcover

Includes the White Necromancer plus 11 other new classes (plus archetypes, spells, feats, and more)


Of course not.

Any sentient creature can choose its own moral and ethical path in life, or unlife as the case may be.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Liberty's Edge

Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Undead are not specified as such an exception anywhere, actually. Mindless undead are Evil, and so are most intelligent ones, but they don't have an alignment subtype or anything.

And even if they did, we've had redeemed fiends, so redeemed undead are equally possible.


Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Nope. Free will equals free choice. The Bestiary itself expressly states this.

"Only in special cases is this more fixed, such as ... planar monsters (outsiders with alignments other than those listed are unusual and typically outcasts from their kind). "

Unusual, not nonexistent.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Undead are not specified as such an exception anywhere, actually. Mindless undead are Evil, and so are most intelligent ones, but they don't have an alignment subtype or anything.

And even if they did, we've had redeemed fiends, so redeemed undead are equally possible.

Alignment subtype and 'personality alignment' (for lack of a better term) are unrelated. Nothing at all prevents a being with Chaotic and Evil subtypes from having a Lawful Good personality.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Undead are not specified as such an exception anywhere, actually. Mindless undead are Evil, and so are most intelligent ones, but they don't have an alignment subtype or anything.

And even if they did, we've had redeemed fiends, so redeemed undead are equally possible.

Yes, and those are the exceptions, not the rule. Sentient undead can change their alignment, which is a bit different than “can be any alignment.”

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zhayne wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Undead are not specified as such an exception anywhere, actually. Mindless undead are Evil, and so are most intelligent ones, but they don't have an alignment subtype or anything.

And even if they did, we've had redeemed fiends, so redeemed undead are equally possible.

Alignment subtype and 'personality alignment' (for lack of a better term) are unrelated. Nothing at all prevents a being with Chaotic and Evil subtypes from having a Lawful Good personality.

And how many of those exist?


Aligned Outsiders + Mindless Creatures are the only creatures described to have difficultly changing their alignments.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zhayne wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Nope. Free will equals free choice. The Bestiary itself expressly states this.

"Only in special cases is this more fixed, such as ... planar monsters (outsiders with alignments other than those listed are unusual and typically outcasts from their kind). "

Unusual, not nonexistent.

And Outsiders don’t have as much free will as mortals.

Unusual almost to the point of being nonexistent.


Rysky wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Undead are not specified as such an exception anywhere, actually. Mindless undead are Evil, and so are most intelligent ones, but they don't have an alignment subtype or anything.

And even if they did, we've had redeemed fiends, so redeemed undead are equally possible.

Alignment subtype and 'personality alignment' (for lack of a better term) are unrelated. Nothing at all prevents a being with Chaotic and Evil subtypes from having a Lawful Good personality.
And how many of those exist?

Does it matter? They do exist, canonically and logically. I'm not saying they aren't rare. I'm saying it's not impossible. Even if there's just one, it proves that your statement is false.

Also, the answer is 'depends on the campaign world', of course. This boils down to a basic truth ... the GM can have the NPCs in his world do what he wants. He wants a succubus paladin in the game world? There she is. Angel hellknight? Lo, shall it be. Even if the books outright said 'no, impossible, cannot be, no way Jose', not a chance', the GM has every right to just Sharpie over it.

By the same token, of course, the GM is free to ignore what it says in the books now, and declare that alignment subtype dictates personality (in all defiance of free will and self-determination, but I digress).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

A single exception to a rule does not prove a rule false.

An claiming that GMs can change absolutely everything in their own games and thus rules are false is just outright disingenuous. Yes you can change anything in your home game. Change.

Liberty's Edge

Rysky wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Nope. Free will equals free choice. The Bestiary itself expressly states this.

"Only in special cases is this more fixed, such as ... planar monsters (outsiders with alignments other than those listed are unusual and typically outcasts from their kind). "

Unusual, not nonexistent.

And Outsiders don’t have as much free will as mortals.

Unusual almost to the point of being nonexistent.

This is totally true. Fallen angels and redeemed fiends are way more rare than, say, a Good Orc. Can you find a similar line regarding undead?


Rysky wrote:
A single exception to a rule does not prove a rule false.

A single counterexample absolutely disproves a universal claim. That's how counterexamples work.

The question of the thread is "are undead always evil?" and the answer is absolutely, definitely "no."

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mindless undead are Evil

Not necessarily even that. Slap the ghost or ectoplasmic creature template on a mindless living creature like a vermin, plant, or ooze, and you can easily have a non-evil mindless undead.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Undead and Outsiders being the exception to that.

Nope. Free will equals free choice. The Bestiary itself expressly states this.

"Only in special cases is this more fixed, such as ... planar monsters (outsiders with alignments other than those listed are unusual and typically outcasts from their kind). "

Unusual, not nonexistent.

And Outsiders don’t have as much free will as mortals.

Unusual almost to the point of being nonexistent.

This is totally true. Fallen angels and redeemed fiends are way more rare than, say, a Good Orc. Can you find a similar line regarding undead?

I go off their write ups when it talks about their drives, and how they’re statted up in official products.

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