Should this Paladin have fallen?


Advice

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The party was going through a rural village on the way to Mendev, and our paladin of Erastil ended up rescuing an old man who was about to be lynched by an angry mob for being a devil-worshiper. After getting him out of town and patched up from his beating by the villagers, the old fellow admitted he really was a devil worshiper. He was a LE cleric of Asmodeus who had stopped in the village for supplies. Even though he was just passing through, the locals didn't take kindly to a self-avowed Asmodean being in their town and decided to burn him.

On one hand, the paladin prevented the murder of an old man by an angry mob of religious zealots. On the other, the paladin saved the life of an evil person and even went out of his way to heal him.

Should the paladin have fallen?


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Absolutely not. Absolutely nothing the paladin did violates Erastil's code.


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Saving an evil person is not in itself an evil act. It is still an act of good to save a life, even an evil one.

As the town was going to lynch the man, they were not acting within the law. This means saving the man is also not an unlawful act. If he were to be hung by the crown, or the local sheriff had arrested the man for devil worship, then it could be seen as unlawful.

However, as you've described the scenario, no. The paladin has done nothing to violate their code and require atonement.


per raw yes but the raw for paladins is silly, so per common sense no the paladin should not fall


Per RAW no. Based on the stated events, and the rules as replicated below, the paladin did nothing to warrant falling. Now, what the paladin does after the confession could be an interesting thing.

Page 63-64 CRB:
Code of Conduct: A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class features except proficiencies if she ever willingly commits an evil act. Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

Erastil's Paladin code:
The paladins of Erastil are gruff, strict traditionalists. They seek to preserve the integrity of rural life and communities. Their tenets include the following affirmations.
• My community comes first, and I will contribute to it all that I can. If I don’t give something back, who will?
• I must offer the poor in my community assistance, but I may not do the work for them—instead, I must teach them to contribute to the settlement. It is only through cooperation that a community grows strong.
• When danger threatens, I am not a fool. I seek first to make sure the weak and innocent are safe, and then I quell the danger.
• I keep to the old ways, the true ways. I am not seduced by the lure of money or power. I remember that true honor comes from within, not from the accolades of others.
• I remember that reputation is everything. Mine is pure and upstanding, and I will repair it if it is broken or tarnished. I stand by my decisions, and live so that none shall have cause to blame me.
• I show respect to my elders, for they have done much. I show respect to the young, for they have much left to do. I show respect to my peers, for they carry the load. And I shall carry it with them.
• I am honest, trustworthy, and stable. If I must leave my lands and community, before I go, I ensure that they will be tended in my absence. Even when duty calls, my duties to my home come first—letting them lapse makes me a burden on my people.


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Lady-J wrote:
per raw yes but the raw for paladins is silly, so per common sense no the paladin should not fall

On the contrary. RAW for Paladins Code of Conduct:

"Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

Associates: While she may adventure with good or neutral allies, a paladin avoids working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code. Under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil. A paladin should seek an atonement spell periodically during such an unusual alliance, and should end the alliance immediately should she feel it is doing more harm than good. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good."

Helping those in need would include the priest in question, and although a worshipper of an evil god, there is no evidence he was harming innocents. As the paladin is not working with the man, only having helped them as per their code and been on their way, they are also not violating the second part of the code of conduct.

RAW, the Paladin is clean.


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Absolutely not. Certainly we must admit that it is possible for an evil person to be seek, and indeed obtain, redemption. While it's not feasible for a Paladin to give every evil person they encounter the chance to recant their evil ways, but they are not wrong any time they give an evil person a chance, even if they don't take it.

Becoming a Paladin pretty much means that you have official sanction to make these kinds of calls.


per raw a paladin can not commit an evil act, paladin saves an evil person, any evil act that evil person does in now on the paladins hands and as such is now an evil act committed by the paladin

per common sense paladin raw is dumb and should be ignored in pretty much all degrees

in addition letting evil live and go do evil things is contrary to the I seek first to make sure the weak and innocent are safe part of the deity code


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The paladin code is a friend and a guide. Not a trap to nefariously lure unsuspecting PCs into.

The paladin helped save an old man. That's an appropriate thing for a paladin to do.


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Lady-J wrote:
per raw a paladin can not commit an evil act, paladin saves an evil person, any evil act that evil person does in now on the paladins hands and as such is now an evil act committed by the paladin

I think that the Principle of Double Effect should insulate the Paladin from any risk of falling here. After all, we'd want our Paladins to be able to do things for good reasons, even if they don't end up working out. It would be wholly unreasonable to expect even the best people to be omniscient and to be able to perfectly predict the future to behave in a moral fashion.


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Nah, pretty sure the code is to make paladins completely unplayable in any situation other than nicely asking people to behave whilst donating all material possessions to ye olde orphanage /s.

OT: No this is not a fall condition if the priest was not being actively malicious. At worst you have a quest hook where the pali learns that the cleric is now sacrificing babies at the local orphanage after finishing his business and he has some responsibility in that.


Well it does seem rather inappropriate for a Good character to give the benefit of the doubt to someone.

Grand Lodge

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Fair reminder that arguing with Lady-J in paladin threads about falling and morality is fairly pointless as they have a rather atypical view of morality that includes all form of killing being murder and almost any possible thing causing a paladin to fall.

Lady-J wrote:
killing people is evil no matter who is doing it however it is necessary in some cases but that's part of human nature every one is capable of great good but they are also capable of great evil
Faelyn wrote:
That's your opinion, it is not a universal fact. I would agree that murder is evil, but killing by default is not. These two things are not by any means the same thing.
Lady-J wrote:
that's what murder is killing some one
Lady-J wrote:
killing is evil, orphaning children is evil, if you want to remedy that evil by killing the children that is evil, ignoring people in need to save the relm is evil, spending time that should be devoted to saving the relm to help those in need is also evil, war is evil, mass eradication of a species is evil the damning of souls to hell is evil, these are all normal adventuring actions done pretty much every day.


Thank you, oh raptorous truth bearer. That was quite enlightening.


Jurassic Pratt wrote:

Fair reminder that arguing with Lady-J in paladin threads about falling and morality is fairly pointless as they have a rather atypical view of morality that includes all form of killing being murder and almost any possible thing causing a paladin to fall.

Lady-J wrote:
killing people is evil no matter who is doing it however it is necessary in some cases but that's part of human nature every one is capable of great good but they are also capable of great evil
Faelyn wrote:
That's your opinion, it is not a universal fact. I would agree that murder is evil, but killing by default is not. These two things are not by any means the same thing.
Lady-J wrote:
that's what murder is killing some one
Lady-J wrote:
killing is evil, orphaning children is evil, if you want to remedy that evil by killing the children that is evil, ignoring people in need to save the relm is evil, spending time that should be devoted to saving the relm to help those in need is also evil, war is evil, mass eradication of a species is evil the damning of souls to hell is evil, these are all normal adventuring actions done pretty much every day.

any person who views killing as a good or neutral act is the one with the atypical view point pratt there is no difference between shooting a man and sacrificing a dozen children in a ritual save for the body count


My cat kills mice that he finds indoors. Is he evil?
I kill mosquitoes and other bugs that bite me. Am I evil?


PossibleCabbage wrote:

My cat kills mice that he finds indoors. Is he evil?

I kill mosquitoes and other bugs that bite me. Am I evil?

are the cat and mouse sentient if so then yes. if one is not then no, if both are not then no.repeat for step 2


Okay so killing is only necessarily evil when it involves two sentient beings?

So is euthanasia evil? Is killing in self-defense?


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Okay so killing is only necessarily evil when it involves two sentient beings?

So is euthanasia evil? Is killing in self-defense?

yes and yes but in some instances evil is necessary that still does not mean its not evil


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So if my character mortally wounds an antagonist, is it more moral to allow the person to slowly die, suffering the whole time or is it ethically preferable to put them out of their misery? Are these two actions of equal moral weight?


PossibleCabbage wrote:
So if my character mortally wounds an antagonist, is it more moral to allow the person to slowly die, suffering the whole time or is it ethically preferable to put them out of their misery? Are these two actions of equal moral weight?

leaving them to suffer would be evil however extinguishing their life, even with their permission would also be equally as evil, evil is just a fact of life, so long as there is sentience then there shall both be good and evil


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So, in your estimation there's no moral difference between ending someone's suffering, a hand's off approach that allows someone to suffer however much circumstances would dictate, and a hands on approach where you prolong someone's suffering as long as possible? The only thing that matters is that someone died and that's bad?

I have to say, this is a truly bizarre system moral reasoning I have literally never encountered before. Like most people default to "naïve utilitarianism" for ethical reasoning (which works pretty well!) but this is like some sort of extreme hardline consequentialism or something.

Like I am pretty sure that defining evil in such a way that it is effectively impossible to avoid, sort of defeats the point of even thinking about ethics, since at this point- who cares? If you torture an orphan to death that's exactly as bad as if you kill in self defense, or to end suffering, I guess.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Like I am pretty sure that defining evil in such a way that it is effectively impossible to avoid

avoiding evil or good acts is impossible, they are just things that happen every day and by everyone only difference is how evil or how good the act is


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I feel like you're confusing the "good and bad" dichotomy with the "good and evil" dichotomy. Like the purpose of "studying ethics" is to have some insight on how to best live one's life, right? If thinking about ethics doesn't give us any sort of framework to use to decide between alternative courses of action, it's of no use whatsoever.

So while I grant in the course of a day or an adventure, everybody's gonna do some bad things, I would observe that it is nonetheless useful to differentiate between those bad things that are difficult or impossible to avoid and those that one would need to deliberately intend and work towards, and that there is a continuum between the two. But we want to caution people away from "tracking someone who was rude to you to their home and murdering them" as a behavior that is not beneficial for society, but we don't want people to worry about it too much if they accidentally kill the maniac who invaded their home with intent to kill you because of some perceived slight.

I would also observe, that there is a gradation of intensity for the various bad acts one could commit, and that some result in irreversible harms and some result in minor or forgivable harms. Like lying is fairly universally considered bad, but there is a significant gradation between incredibly minor lies of no consequence (e.g. "Oh no, I already ate, I'm not hungry") and grave lies of extreme consequence (e.g. accusing an innocent person of a crime in a courtroom). So I would argue that we would prefer to also emphasize amount or intensity of harm somewhere here, since we worry less about people politely excusing themselves from social occasions and more about potential miscarriages of justice.

So given the aforementioned examples, I would posit that we should probably reserve the "evil" label for those moral failings that are of sufficient intensity and are sufficiently deliberate that we want to condemn them without equivocation. Similarly we want to reserve the "good" label for those acts of moral virtue that are actually meaningful as to be models of behavior we want to emphasize to encourage (i.e. "honesty" is good, but honesty when ordering lunch is not laudable).

Furthermore I want to point out that, what you appear to be missing is that context matters a whole lot, or at least it should. If you tell your friend you will meet them at a time or a place there are circumstances that excuse one's absence (e.g. you were in an accident and were taken to the hospital) and circumstances that do not (e.g. you decided not to go and didn't tell anybody).

tl;dr the labels of "evil"/"good" are for discouraging/encouraging behavior when it is is actually important or useful to do so.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
But we want to caution people away from "tracking someone who was rude to you to their home and murdering them" as a behavior that is not beneficial for society, but we don't want people to worry about it too much if they accidentally kill the maniac who invaded their home with intent to kill you because of some perceived slight.

that's what laws are for while it may have been lawful for the person to kill some one who broke into your house its still evil to do so


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Lady-J wrote:
that's what laws are for while it may have been lawful for the person to kill some one who broke into your house its still evil to do so

I disagree entirely.


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Conveniently, as we are playing a game, the all killing is evil must be an incorrect interpretation in the context of the game when there is an entire class built around being a paragon of virtue who kills things with swords. (Or what have you.) Sure, there are nonlethal options, but they are not the expectation, and certainly not what the iconic is depicted as using. We get plenty of art of Seelah slaying things with that sword, yet she's not fallen, therefore "all killing is evil" must be an incorrect interpretation of the definition of "evil" used in Pathfinder.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I would also observe, that there is a gradation of intensity for the various bad acts one could commit, and that some result in irreversible harms and some result in minor or forgivable harms. Like lying is fairly universally considered bad, but there is a significant gradation between incredibly minor lies of no consequence (e.g. "Oh no, I already ate, I'm not hungry") and grave lies of extreme consequence (e.g. accusing an innocent person of a crime in a courtroom). So I would argue that we would prefer to also emphasize amount or intensity of harm somewhere here, since we worry less about people politely excusing themselves from social occasions and more about potential miscarriages of justice.

i do however agree that not all forums of lying is evil but most are just in varying degrees of it, it all depends on weather or not it will harm some one for doing so, like lying to your child the the dog ran away would be slightly evil, up until the point were they find out the truth that it was hit by a car and died at which point it would be significantly more evil, were as a if a friend asks does this outfit look good on me and you lie about it its not necessarily evil unless you were lying to harm them in which case it is evil and your not a good friend. and the example you gave about lying about some one doing a crime they did not commit in a court room would definitely be evil.


Omnius wrote:
Conveniently, as we are playing a game, the all killing is evil must be an incorrect interpretation in the context of the game when there is an entire class built around being a paragon of virtue who kills things with swords. (Or what have you.) Sure, there are nonlethal options, but they are not the expectation, and certainly not what the iconic is depicted as using. We get plenty of art of Seelah slaying things with that sword, yet she's not fallen, therefore "all killing is evil" must be an incorrect interpretation of the definition of "evil" used in Pathfinder.

she should have based on raw a raw that i chuck right out the window when anyone plays a paladin because paladins by raw can not function and have some of the dumbest restrictions in the game. also anyone who self proclaims them selves as vitreous and then goes around killing thing is both dilutional and a hypocrite you cant be a being of virtue and be a murder hobo.


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Lady-J wrote:
she should have based on raw a raw that i chuck right out the window when anyone plays a paladin because paladins by raw can not function and have some of the dumbest restrictions in the game. also anyone who self proclaims them selves as vitreous and then goes around killing thing is both dilutional and a hypocrite you cant be a being of virtue and be a murder hobo.

Murder hobos kill, but killing at all does not a murder hobo make.

Nearly every society on Earth has among its foundational lore some version of the virtuous warrior who fights and slays evildoers. This is fantasy; that is the narrative the paladin explicitly draws on.

There are contradictions baked in the rules, and there are contradictions introduced through interpretation.

You are interpreting the rules of the game wrong.


Omnius wrote:
Lady-J wrote:
she should have based on raw a raw that i chuck right out the window when anyone plays a paladin because paladins by raw can not function and have some of the dumbest restrictions in the game. also anyone who self proclaims them selves as vitreous and then goes around killing thing is both dilutional and a hypocrite you cant be a being of virtue and be a murder hobo.

Murder hobos kill, but killing at all does not a murder hobo make.

Nearly every society on Earth has among its foundational lore some version of the virtuous warrior who fights and slays evildoers. This is fantasy; that is the narrative the paladin explicitly draws on.

then they are not truly virtuous a virtuous person would be some one like mother teresa or arche bishop oscar romero, some one who strove for the em-betterment of others while not actually harming others that is what virtue is, not seeing how many heads you can hack off from your enemies

Dark Archive

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Isn't the Mother Teresa person who was like "It is virtuous to suffer so poor must suffer" and refused to help poor to move up in from not being poor as result?

Anyway, I think you guys are getting derailed. Game mechanics wise, killing intelligent being isn't inherently evil act, now whether it is in real life depends on your personal ethics and philosophy :P Either way, you can't argue that paladin should fall based on your real life personal ethics as game rule wise it definitely isn't the case.

That said, you have rather weird grasp of ethics. If evil you believe everyone does something evil and that can't be avoided due to impossibility of it, that just sounds like excuse to me "Oh no, I had no choice but to do evil, so I'm not responsible for my actions!" type deal.


CorvusMask wrote:

Isn't the Mother Teresa person who was like "It is virtuous to suffer so poor must suffer" and refused to help poor to move up in from not being poor as result?

Anyway, I think you guys are getting derailed. Game mechanics wise, killing intelligent being isn't inherently evil act, now whether it is in real life depends on your personal ethics and philosophy :P Either way, you can't argue that paladin should fall based on your real life personal ethics as game rule wise it definitely isn't the case.

That said, you have rather weird grasp of ethics. If evil you believe everyone does something evil and that can't be avoided due to impossibility of it, that just sounds like excuse to me "Oh no, I had no choice but to do evil, so I'm not responsible for my actions!" type deal.

no you generally have a choice on weather or not to do evil just some times you don't but you are still fully liable for your actions, just like if you break a law you didn't know was a law you have still broken the law and must live with the consequences.


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You believe even killing in self defense is evil, therefore I find it pretty easy to view your philosophy as untenable to say the least.


RDM42 wrote:
You believe even killing in self defense is evil, therefore I find it pretty easy to view your philosophy as untenable to say the least.

the act of extinguishing another sentient beings life is evil no matter the circumstance, and if you kill some one you should live with that soul crushing weight on your shoulders for the rest of your life because that's the effect an evil act has on a genuinely good person


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Lady-J wrote:
RDM42 wrote:
You believe even killing in self defense is evil, therefore I find it pretty easy to view your philosophy as untenable to say the least.
the act of extinguishing another sentient beings life is evil no matter the circumstance, and if you kill some one you should live with that soul crushing weight on your shoulders for the rest of your life because that's the effect an evil act has on a genuinely good person

Have to disagree with your ‘proof by assertion’ argument.


Paladin didn't detect evil on him first? Regardless, now preach to him how Erastil saved his life, and try to redeem him. After it fails Pala can say "at least i tried" go do his business.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

According to your views, if someone broke into my house and tried to murder me, the only good thing I can do is let them kill me, right? Anything else is evil? This is why I can't stand pacifists. And maybe you should read up on Mother Teresa, she wasn't near as Good as you seem to think.

On topic, no, the paladin prevented an unlawful act. He's good. As it stands, the townsfolk were the only ones commiting an evil act.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DarkPhoenixx wrote:
Paladin didn't detect evil on him first?

Wouldn't have mattered, even if they did. As a paladin you're probably not too fond of lynchmobs, regardless of who is the victim.

This said, I don't think that any Paladin I have played so far would even have bothered thinking about using that ability before rescuing that old man.

On a more general note, I'd rather use the situation as a plot hook than to punish the Paladin player. I mean you can use that to set the Asmodean priest on his path to redemption, or you could set him up as a future opponent in case he continues his evil ways. I find that to be much more interesting than to think about if the Paladin broke any codices or whatever.

Spoiler:
On a side note, I find it hilarious that so many people try to defend killing someone as perfectly acceptable and non evil. Kinda explains to me why this world is such a s%$*ty place to live in.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think most of the defense has been in regards to the fantasy world, where there are literal personifications of evil and good walking around, seeking to butcher eachother.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Where two interpretations of something in the game exist, and where one of them makes something unplayable, but the other is quite playable, the playable one is the correct interpretation.


MidsouthGuy wrote:
After getting him out of town and patched up from his beating by the villagers, the old fellow admitted he really was a devil worshiper.

Preventing a stranger from being murdered = not evil.

If you were trying to be one of those annoying "ha ha you fall" GMs, the only thing that even needs to be questioned is what the Paladin did once he knew he was dealing with a cleric of Asmodeus. Try to redeem him? Murder him? Say, "Well, good luck with that," and walk away? HA HA WHATEVER YOU DID WAS WRONG YOU FALL!


WormysQueue wrote:
DarkPhoenixx wrote:
Paladin didn't detect evil on him first?

Wouldn't have mattered, even if they did. As a paladin you're probably not too fond of lynchmobs, regardless of who is the victim.

This said, I don't think that any Paladin I have played so far would even have bothered thinking about using that ability before rescuing that old man.

On a more general note, I'd rather use the situation as a plot hook than to punish the Paladin player. I mean you can use that to set the Asmodean priest on his path to redemption, or you could set him up as a future opponent in case he continues his evil ways. I find that to be much more interesting than to think about if the Paladin broke any codices or whatever.

In my games paladins like to sweep everybody with their radar powers.

Spoiler:
"Intelligent" creatures mar the world with their existence,
and peace of death is not what they deserve. The suffering of life ,
inflicting pain upon each other and themselves being puppets of their primitive instincts is the punishment suitable for their wretched ways.
Dread of eventual death that spares no one is all they deserve.
Especially those who pretend everything is so nice and dandy,
not even being able to understand there can be alternative outlooks on the world.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DarkPhoenixx wrote:


In my games paladins like to sweep everybody with their radar powers.

A practice I agree with, but since they were in the middle of a lynching, the standard action to Detect Evil might have been too long to risk. Anyway, with the situation in question we have the rather interesting of the lynchee being both evil, and innocent of anything warranting the death penalty.


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Lady-J wrote:

per raw a paladin can not commit an evil act, paladin saves an evil person, any evil act that evil person does in now on the paladins hands and as such is now an evil act committed by the paladin

per common sense paladin raw is dumb and should be ignored in pretty much all degrees

in addition letting evil live and go do evil things is contrary to the I seek first to make sure the weak and innocent are safe part of the deity code

The bolded part is the only portion of your statement that is RAW.

Everything else is a creation of your imagination.

All of your broad pontifications of what constitute "evil" are your opinion and nothing else. They are not supported by any of the rules of Pathfinder and are completely debatable in the real world where people cannot even agree on whether or not "evil" exists.

Edit: By your same reasoning, if he saves a good person who later goes on to commit an evil act, then the paladin is responsible. It's a completely ludicrous interpretation that creates a heap of logical issues that are all based upon the fallacious assumption that someone is responsible for the actions of another person.


Lady-J wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

My cat kills mice that he finds indoors. Is he evil?

I kill mosquitoes and other bugs that bite me. Am I evil?
are the cat and mouse sentient if so then yes. if one is not then no, if both are not then no.repeat for step 2

Care to define sentient?

Is a chimpanzee or a dolphin sentient? How about a dog? This also implies it is not evil to kill animals. So is pulling the wings off a moth evil?

Also please explain why a new born child would be considered sentient.

Morality is determined as much by circumstance as it is by the action. Any action can be an evil, or good action in the right circumstances.


Even if the lynchee had been lawful neutral, as a cleric of Asmodeus he still would've pinged as evil. Aura is fun like that.

But yeah, just because someone's evil doesn't mean that they've done something they deserve to die for.

The paladin definitely did the right thing, and might even be able to start reforming the Asmodean - after all, his own people probably would've simply stood by and watched his lynching.

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