Torture, can a not evil character justify doing it?


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So I’m having an alignment issue. About to roll a new character and decided I wanted him skilled in the art of torture but didn’t necessarily want him to be evil. When he would torture it would be because it must happen in his opinion, never for pleasure and he would heal the damage after (kinetic healer, give them the point of burn). I’m sure I could justify Chaotic Neutral but would Chaotic Good be too much a stretch?


Sounds more lawful than chaotic to me. I don’t think “good” regularly tortures. But it doesn’t actually have to be evil either.


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This is a pretty controversial issue that you're not gonna get a solid, consensus answer for. Personally I think that torture for any purpose and with any intentions is fundamentally evil - I would not be surprised to see the next person come in willing to justify it as a necessary evil to get crucial information, or even not evil at all.

I think it's telling that your character isn't willing to accept responsibility for the healing, though; requiring the tortured individual to accept further pain in the form of burn is an exceptionally weak justification of your actions, and the kind of thing I'd expect from the Lawful Evil nemesis character who's going to get Smited when the protagonists come along to stop him.


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You can justify anything. Torture will still be evil. You might be able to sleep at night or look yourself in the mirror, but (by the rubric used in this game) inflicting injury on someone as torture is evil.

Can you still be neutral or good? Yes, but your good acts had better outweigh the bad (and I'd likely not count or greatly diminish those accomplished through evil means).


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I think it depends on the back story. Why is he skilled at torture? Was he raised by perhaps an assasins guild or evil person and forced into the skill reluctantly? If so he could easily be good and have that knowledge and background (and ability to do so) while be conflicted about it. I think the character in this case would be struggling with their own alignment. What he was raised to do dueling and feels like he has to, to protect himself/those he loves, with his beliefs or viewpoint in life.

However if you make him a good alignment and have him be skilled at torture just because he thought that was a cool trade to learn... that doesn’t make sense to me.

Silver Crusade

at best, it is a neutral act, and worst evil.

A good character may resort to torture in times of great peril, when the chance of not knowing a bit of information could lead to catastrophe. After exhausting all other means, but someone practiced in the art of torture, and uses it regularly, would never stay in the good alignment in my games.


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

As Pizza Lord said, you can justify anything to yourself. The problem is that torture is an outright evil act in Pathfinder as well as worthless for gaining reliable information, so you're using an evil act that's also less effective than other methods. The question of will you stay Good when you're torturing people, probably not is the answer I'd give.


Sometimes, good people do bad things...but you are making this a central part of his skillset and operational procedures.

I think it would be easier to justify an intimidation based character that keeps this in their back pocket in the event of an emergency. But routine use of this option would be troubling, and certainly not something I could see on the 'good' spectrum.

Additionally... torture is typically known to be unreliable. You can force them to give you an answer, but that doesn't mean they will want to give you a CORRECT answer. In fact, they will likely hate you, and intentionally give you false information. Given this fact (and the fact that there are several spells that solve this problem without any pain), and it gets harder to justify as a practice for information gathering. You will often find playing "good cop" works better.

Honestly, torture tends to work better as a means to intimidate others into submission. "Make a lesson out of him", basically. You would make it so that everyone fears the pain, and they would avoid crossing you. ...and this is a core tactic of Cheliax and Nidal, two LE nations. (ok, the relationship of Zon-Kuthon's followers with torture is a bit more complex, but it isn't exactly sugar and stardust).


It was less about the torture for information but the actual tools I see many uses for for example thumbscrews remove a caster from casting unless they have a still spell, the Trephine can actually heal mental ability damage (or cause it if the heal check fails by 5 or more).

But the Horror book states “These devices cause great pain, and are often used in torture. Engaging in torture is ultimately nothing more a sadistic means to control another person. Rather than being an effective means of interrogation, torture produces notoriously inaccurate information designed to tell the torturer what she wants to hear and make the torture stop. Each act of torture shifts the torturer’s alignment one step toward evil, and it counts as a willful evil act for the purpose of effects like atonement.” But that is if for “information gathering” I’m looking at the other uses.


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In world where spells that can reliable get the truth without torture I would say that torturing someone is an evil act. In a world without magic you can make the argument that torture is sometimes necessary to get the truth when someone is not willing to cooperate. Many of the spells that could be used in place of torture are not high level spells. Zone of truth and detect thoughts are both second level spells. This means they only require a 3rd level caster.

With magic there are so many ways to get at the truth that are not available in the real world. This means that how things are done in a Pathfinder campaign may not be the way they were historically done. Why torture someone to confess to a murder when you can simply use speak with dead and ask the victim who killed them?

If you want your character to be skilled at torture and not be evil have it be something he learned earlier and has reformed. Just because you character is not currently evil is no reason that he could not have been evil before the game started. A reformed character is a perfectly good background. I could even see using it for a paladin. There was a book called the Hawk of May that used this for a background. The main character in the book would probably be a paladin but his mother was an evil sorceress.


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McDaygo wrote:
I see many uses for for example thumbscrews remove a caster from casting unless they have a still spell,...

Sure, but binding the caster's hands is as effective without being torture (somatic component-wise, being damaged continuously might be another concentration check). Gagging them with a gag (even a ball gag) will stop verbal components. There's no need to apply a jawbreaker or pierce their tongue or stitch their lips together.


People on here won't give you a definitive answer as people will have different opinions.
And it's not our opinions that matter. Ask your GM. If they say it's evil there's likely nothing you can say to change their mind.


Torture is a definite evil act. There is no getting around that in Pathfinder.

Committing a few evil acts won't change your alignment. It will cause a Paladin to fall since their code of conduct is much stricter than alignment.

Committing evil acts without justification should instantly change your alignment. Good beings need to try to justify (i.e. bluff) the act to themselves as being 'for the greater good' somehow. That is a lie, but its one they need to believe to remain good.

But if a character continues to commit evil acts, no matter the justification their alignment should reflect the majority of the character's actions. So if our LG Inquisitor continues to torture every accused person brought before him, his alignment should slip towards evil until his actions change towards committing good acts.


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I feel like a retired torturer or person who has learned torture, but who has sworn off it forever and tried to make whatever amends they could can be non-evil. No one who actively engages in (or wants to engage in) torture can be non-evil.


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Pizza Lord wrote:


Sure, but binding the caster's hands is as effective without being torture (somatic component-wise, being damaged continuously might be another concentration check). Gagging them with a gag (even a ball gag) will stop verbal components.

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)


Pizza Lord wrote:
McDaygo wrote:
I see many uses for for example thumbscrews remove a caster from casting unless they have a still spell,...
Sure, but binding the caster's hands is as effective without being torture (somatic component-wise, being damaged continuously might be another concentration check). Gagging them with a gag (even a ball gag) will stop verbal components. There's no need to apply a jawbreaker or pierce their tongue or stitch their lips together.

Unless they slip out of the bonds repeatedly. Then, more...'permanent' solutions might be investigated.

But this is a security concern rather than an interrogation tactic. The fact that an unrestrained mage can easily be a weapon of mass destruction gives a lot more leeway.

In comparison, a torture victim is usually in a helpless state by default.


You also need to define torture. Some chaotic creatures would feel tortured just by being imprisoned. It sounds like you are defining torture as applying pain to get information, but that’s not the only type of torture. In the real world, torture isn’t an effective way of getting information. But in the game, torture is probably just a +2 bonus to your intimidation check.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
In world where spells that can reliable get the truth without torture I would say that torturing someone is an evil act. In a world without magic you can make the argument that torture is sometimes necessary to get the truth when someone is not willing to cooperate. Many of the spells that could be used in place of torture are not high level spells. Zone of truth and detect thoughts are both second level spells. This means they only require a 3rd level caster.

I'd say that it's easier to justify torture in a world where you have magic like Zone of Truth:

In a world without a way to force true statement or detect lies, torture is only effective at getting the victim to say what the torturer wants to hear. If you have come to the conclusion that you have captured a witch and that she knows other witches then you keep torturing until she names people, even though she has never even met a witch.

With magic, you can use the torture to force the person to give an answer, (Detect Thoughts can be beaten by mental discipline¹ while Zone of Truth only requires that you keep your mouth shut), and you use the magic to ensure the answers given are true.

As for justifying torture as something a character does: Evil can do it without question, neutrals can also do it as an evil act. Good characters will almost always have it as an alignment violation, (the big exception being LG characters: Provided the torture has legal sanction and will be effective or is a legal punishment).

1: Pick an earworm, see if you can get it into your magical interrogator's head.


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Look, if you want your character to torture people... I'm just going to ask you to play a different character.

If you try to rationalize to me how torturing people is compatible with a Good alignment, I'm going to ask you to leave my house and never come back.

If your DM is comfortable allowing you to play this character, just be honest and write "Chaotic Evil" on your character sheet.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Torture is an evil act, no doubt. Theoretically, you can have a Neutral person engage in torture, as even clerics of Zon-Kuthon can be Neutral, but it's a very very slippery slope. You start off deciding torture is a necessary evil, then it's an efficient step for good, then it's just your fallback plan, no worries. If you use evil ways to combat evil, even should you win, so does evil. For the good, even the lesser of 2 evils is cause to mourn.


I think of torture as always an evil thing to do, but if the stakes are high enough, it might be a forgiveable thing to do. You know that scene in the action movie where there is a ticking bomb or kidnap victim running out of air somewhere in the city, and the good guy tortures the prisoner to find out where it is?

Meanwhile, being Neutral means you should be allowed to do Evil things sometimes. I feel like a lot of GMs overpenalize Neutral characters and try to force them to be Good. I had a True Neutral Tiefling Arcane Trickster who wanted to surreptitiously cast Blood Transcription to secretly get a few extra spells off the dead wizard, and the GM denied me on the grounds that it was an evil act: INAPPROPRIATE! That was exactly what I was supposed to do as a wizard, rogue, neutral, half-demon: cheating a little to help myself to a little extra to something the party would not have wanted anyway by doing an evil act to help the party continue its good works? Doesn't get much more True Neutral Half Demon Rogue-Wizard than that!

But the OP is talking about making a character that specializes in torture, and that is much harder to justify in a nonevil character.

I am not aware of a special game mechanic for torture in Pathfinder. In 3.5, the game mechanic they used was the Intimidate Skill. Torture implements could be used to give your character a Circumstance Bonus on your Intimidate Check, while also inflicting up to 1d4 damage per check, depending on the torture implement you used. Torture had the drawback, though: it gave you a Circumstance Bonus on your Intimidate Check, but if gave you a Penalty on your Sense Motive Check. Remember what Niceguy Eddie said in Reservoir Dogs?

Niceguy Eddie wrote:
If you beat this prick for long enough, he'll tell you he started the G+!-D#@ned Chicago Fire, now that don't necessarily make it f~~~ing so! Think!


Pizza Lord wrote:
McDaygo wrote:
I see many uses for for example thumbscrews remove a caster from casting unless they have a still spell,...
Sure, but binding the caster's hands is as effective without being torture (somatic component-wise, being damaged continuously might be another concentration check). Gagging them with a gag (even a ball gag) will stop verbal components. There's no need to apply a jawbreaker or pierce their tongue or stitch their lips together.

But why waste time binding the hands with rope which has a higher level of failure (escape, hidden knife, etc) when simple thumbscrews will do the job with the clear warning: “this will only hurt you if you try to escape. Your pain is in your hands.”

More on the characters background to help explain the idea. Part of a nomadic seagoing tribe where the majority of then tribe is Barbarian of some sort (most are variant multi-classed). Only magic he has ever been exposed to is shaman magic as his father was the tribe shaman. Being his son he learned all about manual healing/Alchemy to use natural medicine. His class is a blood Kineticist. Raised to view magic as untrustworthy (with the exception of nature magic). Actual drawback I gave was unlearned so unless its a knowledge nature check he can’t make it untrained. The torture he learned was less about interrogation more for stopping “evil magic users” from casting their spells when imprisoned. The why I only gave him the tools that prevent casting (Screws to remove somatic, Fork to prevent a good night sleep and the Trephine to not only help non magic heal mental ability damage of allies heal dc 25 but to potential lower a caster ability to cast)

But I do agree Good is out of the question so I’ll either do CN or LE/NE but with good intentions as in yes I'm evil but I don’t go around murdering (find it distasteful outside of combat) or other traditional vile acts.


Still sounds more lawful neutral to me. Chaotic neutral would just happen to be good at torture and not much care about the morality of it.


Chakat Firepaw wrote:
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
In world where spells that can reliable get the truth without torture I would say that torturing someone is an evil act. In a world without magic you can make the argument that torture is sometimes necessary to get the truth when someone is not willing to cooperate. Many of the spells that could be used in place of torture are not high level spells. Zone of truth and detect thoughts are both second level spells. This means they only require a 3rd level caster.

I'd say that it's easier to justify torture in a world where you have magic like Zone of Truth:

In a world without a way to force true statement or detect lies, torture is only effective at getting the victim to say what the torturer wants to hear. If you have come to the conclusion that you have captured a witch and that she knows other witches then you keep torturing until she names people, even though she has never even met a witch.

With magic, you can use the torture to force the person to give an answer, (Detect Thoughts can be beaten by mental discipline¹ while Zone of Truth only requires that you keep your mouth shut), and you use the magic to ensure the answers given are true.

As for justifying torture as something a character does: Evil can do it without question, neutrals can also do it as an evil act. Good characters will almost always have it as an alignment violation, (the big exception being LG characters: Provided the torture has legal sanction and will be effective or is a legal punishment).

1: Pick an earworm, see if you can get it into your magical interrogator's head.

Those spells are just the first I came up with off the top of my head. There are many different ways the magic can get the truth. When you start dealing with higher level spells the ways to avoid them become harder and in some cases impossible. For example I could use Geas to force a person to tell everything that they know.

There are also a lot of spells that may not be able to outright force the truth, but can still be used to aid in the process. Casting Charm Person or the equivalent on someone you are questioning is going to give you a huge advantage.

Using magic to defend against these also becomes harder if the target in captured. Spells used to counter them can be defeated pretty easily by a combination of divination, observation and counter magic. If the spell allows a saving throw the caster will know the save was made and can simply cast the spell again.

You did bring up a valid point about punishment. I don’t really consider carrying out a legal punishment to be torture. Although the line separating them is very thin. I could see a lawful good person whose job is to inflict punishment on convicted criminals. This may work for what the original poster wants.


There are also characters who mostly only use torture for fun. Like Gomez Addams, who is most often portrayed as chaotic good.


That opens the entire BDSM community


Like I said, you can’t actually discuss the morality of a thing until you properly define that thing. And torture means different things to different people.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In regards to Gomez Addams, it isn't torture because everyone is consenting to it. Plus, the Addams' are harder to kill than half-red dragon troll barbarians.

The problem is, torture is useless for getting information. All it does is convince your victim that you are indeed a monster who must be stopped. As mentioned, they'll tell you anything, and it doesn't often have a vague connection with the truth.


Val'bryn2 wrote:
In regards to Gomez Addams, it isn't torture because everyone is consenting to it.

I’m pretty sure they refer specifically to torture. So in their opinion they are torturing someone.


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McDaygo wrote:
That opens the entire BDSM community

Consensual stuff that adults do and actually torturing someone (whatever you do to justify it) are completely different and equating them is both offensive and shows a tremendous amount of ignorance.

Sorry, I just have a pet peeve of folks treating kinks (whatever they may be) like they're equivalent to violence, and they're not.

People can argue themselves in circles on whether torture (along with numerous other contentious issues) are moral or not. You'll never find a consensus here. If you're looking for validation that torture is okay, you can cherry pick the answers that agree with you.

Personally I think that people can always justify evil acts. But you're harming people sheerly for your own convenience. That fits evil as written pretty strongly.


Squeakmaan wrote:
As Pizza Lord said, you can justify anything to yourself. The problem is that torture is an outright evil act in Pathfinder as well as worthless for gaining reliable information, so you're using an evil act that's also less effective than other methods. The question of will you stay Good when you're torturing people, probably not is the answer I'd give.

rather than making yourself a torturer, consider yourself an interrogator. concentrate on bluff, diplomacy, intimidate. sometimes the threat of torture and the NPC's belief that the PC's is willing to go that far is enough to get the information you need. like Squeakman said, "torture is an outright evil act as well as worthless for gaining reliable information".

look at in this way, Batman is likely Lawful Neutral. He doesn't really resort to torture (though he is perfectly willing to rough a bad-guy up), he does intimidate the $#!+ out of them. Be Batman. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)


Artofregicide wrote:
Personally I think that people can always justify evil acts. But you're harming people sheerly for your own convenience. That fits evil as written pretty strongly.

But it can easily not be for the torturer’s own convenience. It can be done for the welfare of many innocent people, who will never even know to thank the torturer. Which sounds very selfless and thus good.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If I use Summon Monster to call up a demon, it's a Chaotic and an Evil act. If I call it up to save an orphanage and prevent fire from destroying the city, it's still a Chaotic and Evil act, though what I command is Good. That's the thing with alignment questions: you have to remember that this is a place where morality is NOT relative, that Good and Evil are, in fact, tangible, measurable forces.

Oh, and now we mentioned Batman in an alignment thread? This won't end well.


I am Nemesis wrote:
Squeakmaan wrote:
As Pizza Lord said, you can justify anything to yourself. The problem is that torture is an outright evil act in Pathfinder as well as worthless for gaining reliable information, so you're using an evil act that's also less effective than other methods. The question of will you stay Good when you're torturing people, probably not is the answer I'd give.

rather than making yourself a torturer, consider yourself an interrogator. concentrate on bluff, diplomacy, intimidate. sometimes the threat of torture and the NPC's belief that the PC's is willing to go that far is enough to get the information you need. like Squeakman said, "torture is an outright evil act as well as worthless for gaining reliable information".

look at in this way, Batman is likely Lawful Neutral. He doesn't really resort to torture (though he is perfectly willing to rough a bad-guy up), he does intimidate the $#!+ out of them. Be Batman. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Except what Batman does is torture.

He inflicts physical pain and emotional anguish to to retrieve information.

The only difference between Batman and the strapped to the table stuff everyone is thinking about is that the story doesn't go too far.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

And there have been logical, valid arguments for Batman fitting each of the 9 alignments. The Joker isn't that much of a multiple choice character.


Different versions of Batman from different writers have different alignments. But we’ve seen “good” versions of Batman rough people up for information.

We even have an animated Batman scene where old Batman complains about how immature the younger Batman is being about it.


Doompatrol wrote:
I am Nemesis wrote:
Squeakmaan wrote:
As Pizza Lord said, you can justify anything to yourself. The problem is that torture is an outright evil act in Pathfinder as well as worthless for gaining reliable information, so you're using an evil act that's also less effective than other methods. The question of will you stay Good when you're torturing people, probably not is the answer I'd give.

rather than making yourself a torturer, consider yourself an interrogator. concentrate on bluff, diplomacy, intimidate. sometimes the threat of torture and the NPC's belief that the PC's is willing to go that far is enough to get the information you need. like Squeakman said, "torture is an outright evil act as well as worthless for gaining reliable information".

look at in this way, Batman is likely Lawful Neutral. He doesn't really resort to torture (though he is perfectly willing to rough a bad-guy up), he does intimidate the $#!+ out of them. Be Batman. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Except what Batman does is torture. He inflicts physical pain and emotional anguish to to retrieve information.

The only difference between Batman and the strapped to the table stuff everyone is thinking about is that the story doesn't go too far.

I guess the point i was trying to make is that Batman is not a Sadist about gathering information, he's roughing up someone because it needs to be done. NOT BECAUSE HE ENJOYS IT. If Batman was a bad example, Daredevil won't be much better. If it helps forget the comic book references.

Just be the Interrogator, unless your character background makes you a torturer.


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Melkiador wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Personally I think that people can always justify evil acts. But you're harming people sheerly for your own convenience. That fits evil as written pretty strongly.
But it can easily not be for the torturer’s own convenience. It can be done for the welfare of many innocent people, who will never even know to thank the torturer. Which sounds very selfless and thus good.

I get that you're coming to this from a "ends justify the means" argument with a fallback on "morality is subjective". It's the same weak argument that people who commit atrocities often fall to. But you're still moving the goalposts, because we're not talking about real life.

Alignment isn't subjective in Pathfinder. So if you murder innocent people, torture their souls and use that to summon a demon in order to save a kitten from a tree, yeah, your intent may have been good as was the result but your actions were evil. Killing innocents, necromancy, and demon summoning are all explicitly and objectively evil. So is torture. Even if you mean well.

Also, I'd point you to the numerous posts that reiterate that torture is a highly ineffective interrogation tool. It's mostly used to oppress, humiliate, and satisfy sadistic urges.

So I can't see a single scenario (short of contrived logic puzzle) where torture would be a better solution than any number of more humane options.

Like, you're part of a culture that specializes in dealing with "evil mages" and the best you've come up with is thumbscrews? Sounds like a weak excuse to use thumbscrews to me.


You really don’t need a “contrived” logic puzzle, just a limited timeframe and a lack of resources. And in these stories the person being tortured is obviously working with the bad guys, usually by getting caught red handed, and so is not an innocent.

And you still have not attempted to state what you think torture even is. It is obviously a very vague word.


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My take is- someone who is an expert on torture would realize that torture does not get people to tell the truth, torture gets people to tell you what they think you want to hear. Understanding this, and continuing to participate in torture, makes you evil; since you're either a sadist or you find the lies people tell when under duress (e.g. "yes, I saw Goody Osborn cavorting with the devil in the forest") useful from a realpolitik perspective. Particularly when magic which compels truth telling in a painless manner is fairly accessible.


I think we are mistakenly conflating getting people to confess and getting people to give useful information. They aren't the same thing. Getting someone to confess to something is too easy. But getting someone to give you new information on something that you can go on to verify is a lot heavier. It still leaves you open to a trap, but it's a lead.


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Melkiador wrote:
I think we are mistakenly conflating getting people to confess and getting people to give useful information. They aren't the same thing. Getting someone to confess to something is too easy. But getting someone to give you new information on something that you can go on to verify is a lot heavier. It still leaves you open to a trap, but it's a lead.

Except we aren't. Both of those are covered in the "torture is ineffective in getting information". I don't think confessions were even on the menu (falling into the oppress and humiliate territory as aforementioned). Because at that point you're not interested in getting the truth, just getting someone to confess.

But I guess the sticking point is that you don't seem to understand the torture is objectively ineffective as a means of interrogation. Torture is primarily used as a means to instill terror in a population, and to force compliance in subjects as a group. There's a lot of scholarly work on this, I'll leave everyone to do their own research.

But can torture work? Mostly in fiction, but sometimes it does. Chemical weapons can be effective in strategic combat, but often are highly ineffective and therefore tend to be used to commit atrocities and instill terror in a population. But effectiveness was never the point.

I'm definitely gonna call you out on your logic puzzle- having limited time and resources is exactly when you *can't* afford to torture someone. You don't have the luxury of getting false information, which is highly likely. Or render the subject unable to give you accurate information.

And yeah, torture isn't ambiguous or hard to define. I don't think anyone on the boards is confused on the subject at hand. Sure, like anything there are gray areas, corner cases, and the like but if you're looking for them, you're probably looking for an excuse to justify torture. We can play the "but isn't everything subjective, really" game until the heat death of the universe but no, torture is torture. I don't think many torturers or victims of torture get confused on what's going on.

Pardon if I come off strong on this, but it's not just a fun game of semantics to me. I know people who have been horribly tortured in ways I can't repeat on this forum.

I think I've said what I've come to say here so I'll bow out. There's no point in chasing this merry-go-round logic any further.

So in closing, torture is torture, and torture is evil. Both IRL and at the gaming table. Everything else is just cheap rationalization.


well.... can a non evil use torture.
WELL... first off as previously mentioned torture does not grant reliable information as: An innocent man/woman will condemn himself/herself to stop the pain where as an evil man/woman will confess and give names just to bring his enemies down too.

and comes to the other note. it depends on the torture method being used and whether or not said non evil is willing to heal the captive after or during torture usage.

for instance, use the historically accurate form of a dungeon. leave bbec in there for a week or so. No sunlight, no interactions, only darkness, food and water.( and a chamberpot) neutral at best as no physical harm was inflicted

Chinese water torture... bound to table and blindfolded and has water dropped slowly on forehead... neutral

bamboo torture. player is bound between 2 poles or other bamboo trees and a third one grows underneath them. Talk or die. Neutral Evil.

ant torture: thrown into honey and left for the ants..... ooo all the ant bites.... neutral

spider torture: bound and sealed into a body length box and its filled with 8 legged creepy crawlies. Neutral

use of iron maiden. casket full of spikes. surprisingly iirc the rw version, the spikes never touched the body so its more psychological torture. so neutral at best

table and pendulum : evil, bound to table and swinging pendulum. talk or die.

so can you justify using torture as a character well yees, but its not you that you have to worry about. If you are working for someone, you will have to get them to agree with you, otherwise its the courts for you.


Artofregicide wrote:
McDaygo wrote:
That opens the entire BDSM community

Consensual stuff that adults do and actually torturing someone (whatever you do to justify it) are completely different and equating them is both offensive and shows a tremendous amount of ignorance.

Sorry, I just have a pet peeve of folks treating kinks (whatever they may be) like they're equivalent to violence, and they're not.

The key difference between consensual BDSM and light torture is that people have an out- 'safe words', or understanding partners that know your limits. One of the key features of torture, in comparison, is that the torturer mentally confines you, backing you into a corner and only give a faint promise of an out if you perform an action that either goes against your morals (betraying a friend) or put yourself into a worse situation (forced confessions).

Anyway, on batman- batman falls far, far more heavily the purely lawful side. His defining character trait is fear- he creates complex backup measures because he is paranoid, and he binds himself with ironclad ethical boundaries because he knows he is always one bad night away from starting a killing spree on everyone from Arkham. He more than knows he has to constantly claw up so he doesn't fall down a slippery slope to LE.

If you want to be a character that tortures on a regular basis while not being evil... you have to make similar strides to bind yourself so you don't fall.


I'll preface this with the simple answer. Torture is an Evil act, one Evil act does not change your alignment. Torturing for some Good might balance to Neutral but that's a GM call.

As for using the torture devices, the text is very clear.

Torture Implements wrote:
Each act of torture shifts the torturer’s alignment one step toward evil, and it counts as a willful evil act for the purpose of effects like atonement.

You can potentially argue that using the thumbscrews to restrain but not harm is not torture (however, as someone who sprained their thumb recently, #@$% yes it's still torture to hurt them if they use their thumbs). The Fork though? You have to stab it into them to put it on, then it stabs them again if they try to relax. There is no use of that (without consent) that's not just torture. Then there's the Trephine. Your friend telling you to use it to reduce mental ability score damage (but only from physical trauma to the head) is fine, they consent. Spending 10 minutes drilling into someone's skull to intentionally damage their brain (mental ability scores) is monstrous and evil and there is no use for the Trephine to restrain someone I can see that isn't EVIL.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:
I'll preface this with the simple answer. Torture is an Evil act, one Evil act does not change your alignment. Torturing for some Good might balance to Neutral but that's a GM call.

You're right, making a singular mistake in a moment of desperation doesn't completely change your alignment; if an otherwise Good person starts to feel the pressure of the situation and commits to torture as a means to their ends, then that alone won't change their alignment completely. They will probably feel horrible about what they've done and seek to atone somehow - or perhaps they'll double down on justifying themselves, which would indicate an alignment shift.

That's not what the OP's character is doing though; torture as a means of gathering information is a defining character trait for him. Once it's a pattern of behavior rather than a single transgression it's absolutely indicative of being an evil person. It's the difference between a crime-of-passion murderer and a serial killer.

Grand Lodge

I love morality debates about a world where you run around murdering sentient beings and stealing their belongings, then leave their bodies to rot where they fell the vast majority of the time.

Always remember, every villain is the hero in their side of the tale.


Slyme wrote:

I love morality debates about a world where you run around murdering sentient beings and stealing their belongings, then leave their bodies to rot where they fell the vast majority of the time.

Always remember, every villain is the hero in their side of the tale.

Thing about that is that its generally a pretty rare occurrence the party just massacres a local gaggle of orcs because they were there. Usually it's because they were raiding villages, forming the local dark lord's army, stole a macguffin, etc. Or they tried to jump you first natch.

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