Why does "Interrogation" Have the Evil Tag But "Confess" Does Not?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Interrogation spell.

Confess spell.

I have a NG Inquisitor claiming that it's okay for him to use the Confess spell since it lacks the evil tag of Interrogation.

I'm not really seeing the difference between...

A, casting Confess on someone

and

B, put someone under a truth telling spell (assume they fail saves for something like Zone of Truth or whatever) and then torturing them if they don't answer questions


Confess seems like torture too though.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It doesn't have the evil descriptor, but it does seem to otherwise be torture. You can bring it up that a Fireball doesn't have the Evil descriptor, but can be used in Evil ways

Silver Crusade

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

In addition to the torture, Confess is just a bad a spell since even with a save they still take damage on not telling the truth so that breaks a lot of things.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Confess does seem to be a questionable spell, but inquisitors are supposed to have a little more leeway then other divine casters. Since it does force a truthful answer you can at least make the ends justify the means argument. Whether you accept that argument or not is another matter, but at least the spell does actually work.

Interrogation on the other hand does not actually work. Nothing in the spell forces the person to tell the truth. To me this spell is exactly like torture in every way. It inflicts needless pain without really getting you the information you need. While it does give the target a penalty on bluff it does not guarantee the target is telling the truth.

In all honesty a smart inquisitor will not bother with either spell. A better spell to take is detect thoughts. Cast this spell and wait 3 rounds before questioning the target. If someone knows an answer to a question you the answer is going to be what they are thinking of no matter how they answer. If they make the will save they have the mental discipline to keep from thinking about the answer.


I'd give confess a raised eyebrow... but interrogation is exactly where it needs to be on the alignment scale.

You are taking a creature, and subjecting it to upwards of 20 minutes of questioning under the immediate and magical threat of torture.

Confess is nice for that nice 'gotcha' moment when you reveal that the minister has been plotting against the king, but it doesn't last more than the single question. Interrogate gets 10, and 20 with greater- each one a chance to inflict suffering upon the target.

And as noted- it doesn't even have a guarantee that it will work. It has no compulsion. So it might only come down to self satisfaction.


Val'bryn2 wrote:
It doesn't have the evil descriptor, but it does seem to otherwise be torture. You can bring it up that a Fireball doesn't have the Evil descriptor, but can be used in Evil ways

Well yes. Just as a crowbar could be. It's what the inherent use of the spell is.

However I'm no fan of confess. I think theres some things that are poorly thought out.

For instance, taking a level of druid or shifter, now you may ask any question with the spell in druidic. Since they must answer in the same language asked... torture.

I agree to having to no idea why one is one way and not both. Other than the simplest of answers: different authors.


The problem here is that harm-inflicting necromancy spells are normally considered evil independent of the situation. Confess is an enchantment, not necromancy.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The [Evil] descriptor has historically been applied rather inconsistently. I pay little heed to alignment descriptors, myself, and I'd advise GM's to simply apply their own judgement in these sorts of cases.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Cavall wrote:


For instance, taking a level of druid or shifter, now you may ask any question with the spell in druidic. Since they must answer in the same language asked... torture.

Sure, but since I can use a fireball to kill all the kids in an orphanage, is that also evil? In the PF cosmology, there are things that are inherently evil because they tap into evil forces. Even if they're used for a good purpose, using them involves doing at least some evil. There are also things that don't use inherently evil forces but can be put to evil use - using them isn't necessarily doing evil.

That's the difference between Interrogation and Confess.

You may not like the way Paizo has defined those things, and you can change that in a game you run. But, frankly, I don't really have a problem with it. I kind of like the Confess spell - it fits right in with what I expect a class called Inquisitor to incorporate. It may be a little dark, but so's the whole idea of an Inquisitor in the first place.


Your point about an orphanage is flawed as I said inherently the spell fireball isnt evil in the part you didnt quote. Some spells are inherently evil.

When you burn down an orphanage that's an evil act. No matter what item or spell you use.

Torture is inherently evil. A spell that tortures is therefore evil.

In fact I dont see many people arguing that interrogation shouldn't be evil so much as if it is, then confess should be too.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Dasrak wrote:
The [Evil] descriptor has historically been applied rather inconsistently. I pay little heed to alignment descriptors, myself, and I'd advise GM's to simply apply their own judgement in these sorts of cases.

Personally, I like the idea of only having spells that target or work based on alignment (such as holy smite or protection from evil) having alignment descriptors. Nothing else would, though using a pain-causing spell on an innocent creature is, of course, an evil act, in the same way throwing a fireball into a crowd of civilians is an evil act.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Duration could be important here. The Confess spell works once and then is done. Interrogation is extended torture.


Cavall wrote:

Your point about an orphanage is flawed as I said inherently the spell fireball isnt evil in the part you didnt quote. Some spells are inherently evil.

When you burn down an orphanage that's an evil act. No matter what item or spell you use.

Torture is inherently evil. A spell that tortures is therefore evil.

In fact I dont see many people arguing that interrogation shouldn't be evil so much as if it is, then confess should be too.

What makes confess torture but fireball not torture? The only meaningful difference is that one gives the affected party a way to avoid the damage. It doesn't even have the [pain] descriptor, so it isn't as though it's especially torturous in the way that it inflicts damage compared to being e.g., burned alive. If it's okay to fireball a bandit, it ought to be at least as okay to confess one.


Fireballs are not inherently torture. The fireball does not care if it is being used to blow up orphans, or mindless plant monsters (which might lack the ability to feel pain). It is just a spell that creates a mass of flames, and it is up to the caster to determine what purpose those flames serve.

Interrogation is a spell inherently designed to affect intelligent, speaking creatures. You might have a 'bad action for the right reasons' excuse (which seems fairly LE to me), but in doesn't change the primary purpose and function of the spell. It is designed to inflict pain in the hope of convincing a creature to comply with your questioning.

On another note- interrogation doesn't appear to have anything that stops the target from just walking away. This makes me curious about whether it still causes pain, even if the target isn't close enough to hear you ask the question (unlike confess, it is not language dependent).

Ignoring the cruel abuse of that potential loophole for kicks and giggles... this is a spell meant to be used against a helpless creature that is unable to escape during the 20 minute max duration. It is not meant to be a spell you use to defend yourself in battle (fireball is a combat spell, and life threatening situations tend to have different ethical considerations).


blahpers wrote:
If it's okay to fireball a bandit, it ought to be at least as okay to confess one.

Are you arguing that telling a captured bandit "Okay, tell me X or I'll keep hitting you with Fireballs" is something you'd consider moral?


Balkoth wrote:
blahpers wrote:
If it's okay to fireball a bandit, it ought to be at least as okay to confess one.
Are you arguing that telling a captured bandit "Okay, tell me X or I'll keep hitting you with Fireballs" is something you'd consider moral?

And really, that tactic is basically just a far less efficient, manual, and sense motive based version of the interrogation spell (ie- 'damage every time I think you lie').

Sidenote- I think it might actually be ok to confess a bandit in battle. From a tactical standpoint. It does decent scaling damage (that seems open to the usual meta magic treatment) and it can cause the sickened condition.

the only catch is that the target can avoid all that by telling the truth. So you are encouraged to ask the most embarrassing, intrusive questions imaginable in the hopes that the bandit refuses to answer. That, or you get a laugh when the big, burly, heavily bearded bandit admits he wears all of the women's clothing he steals.

I feel that is worth a turn and a 2nd level spell slot.

Dark Archive

Yeah, Confess is useful as in combat interrogation method :p You either have enemy take damage or tell info you want

We know out of characters its probably oversight, but ruleswise there are non evil applications of confess

(and even then rule wise using it out of combat would count as torture so it'd be evil to use it anyway)


Balkoth wrote:
blahpers wrote:
If it's okay to fireball a bandit, it ought to be at least as okay to confess one.
Are you arguing that telling a captured bandit "Okay, tell me X or I'll keep hitting you with Fireballs" is something you'd consider moral?

More moral than just hitting them with the fireball in the first place.

Aside: Does the victim of confess know that they're going to take damage if they fail to tell the truth? It would lose some of its utility otherwise.


I dont find your argument holds any weight. Its actually bordering on trolling.


Cavall wrote:
I dont find your argument holds any weight. Its actually bordering on trolling.

Ehh, text is a poor medium for conveying tone unless you're a better wordsmith than I am, and I've been called worse than a troll. Did you object to any particular part of what I posted? Is it actually more repugnant from a moral standpoint to cast fireball on a bandit than it is to cast a hypothetical fireball unless you tell me the truth spell?


Fireball is a spell used for combat, when all sides are fighting to live or die.

Torture spells are for out of combat when one party has no resistance at all, and the other party can inflict pain at will.

And while yes you "can use fireball on an orphanage" that's what alignments are for, so a GM can say that the spell is being used for an evil action.

Inherently torture is evil. Fighting for survival is not.

Your comments that the only meaningful difference is the torture allows them to avoid the damage providing cooperation is somehow more moral, and that fireball is even more repugnant than you expressed is why I think your arguments hold no weight and are trolling.

I realize you're just going to double down a second time, but I maintain the stance that inherently torture is evil. Fighting for survival is not.


Where did I argue that torture is not evil? We're talking about specific spells. Smuggling in different situations for each spell derails your own argument.

Regardless, I don't really see the need to prove the sincerity of my posts to you, so, well, have a nice evening.


Its necromancy. I know people hate alignment and that no strict rule applies that makes necromancy the "evil" wizard school but it does have more evil tagged spells than any other school than conjuration (if you interpret every summoning that picks up the tag when you summon an evil creature as a specifically evil tagged spell). Confess is enchantment.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Confess is language-dependent, so you can't ask a question in Druidic and have it work unless the target speaks Druidic.

On the other hand, you can play with semantic to make unanswerable questions.

A classic is: "Have you stopped beating your wife?"
Unless the target has a wife and, at some time he beat her, any reply isn't "the truth".

"I don't have a wife." is true (if you aren't married), but don't answer directly the question.

If the spell accepts replies that aren't a direct reply to the question a high enough bluff check will defeat it.

A possible example (I am not good at Bluff, so it is a bit weak):
"Are you the one that hired the assassin sent against the king?"
"The assassin is hired by the Assasin Guild." (Obviously, if the assassin is a member of a Guild.)
BTW, that question can be defeated by using a middleman and never ordering him to hire an assassin.
"Find someone that will remove that obstacle" has been used for ages as a way to try to wiggle out from charges of hiring an assassin. Sometimes it even worked. (In-)plausible denial.


I'd forgotten the dependant part thanks Diego.


Diego Rossi wrote:

On the other hand, you can play with semantic to make unanswerable questions.

A classic is: "Have you stopped beating your wife?"
Unless the target has a wife and, at some time he beat her, any reply isn't "the truth".

"I don't have a wife." is true (if you aren't married), but don't answer directly the question.

If the spell accepts replies that aren't a direct reply to the question a high enough bluff check will defeat it.

"I have never beaten my wife; it is impossible to stop that which has never started."

Truth and a direct answer.

Or, an answer I like to give for fun:

"Yes, we haven't played Mah Jongg since her parents quit visiting."

(Again, it answers the question and it 100% truth. "Beating" can refer to victory in a game as well as to violence.)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Loren Pechtel wrote:
"Beating" can refer to victory in a game as well as to violence.)

Language dependant, in English, in French, Italian Spanish (and I suppose other languages) that don't work.

Kudos for finding a solution.

As I said, you can try to beat the spell playing with semantics, both if it used as a form of interrogation or a form of attack. That would be a good reason to say what is the Bluff check to do that in the spell description.

If the character is a master of glibness, not necessarily the player is as good, so a game mechanic to reflect that would be a good thing.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Confess is language-dependent, so you can't ask a question in Druidic and have it work unless the target speaks Druidic.

If you somehow manage to cast the spell as an arcane spell (it's not on any arcane lists), and are able to speak draconic with the Ancient Draconic feat, then you could in fact demand answers in draconic even if the target doesn't speak draconic.

Of course, it's probably easier to just use it on a target that can understand you but can't talk, like a druid in Wild Shape, or someone who is paralysed.


Let's be honest if its paralyzed save your spell. There are easier ways to damage something


There are also easier ways to get people to tell you the truth, but that didn't stop the rest of this discussion…


That's factual.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / Why does "Interrogation" Have the Evil Tag But "Confess" Does Not? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.