Alignment: Truths and Misconceptions

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Don't confuse my views with Chiba's. If anything, I've been the one saying that killing anything that glows red would be a good act. Chiba makes some interesting points for that not being the case, but I'm reserving judgment on that for now. All I will say is that it is a known trait of lawful good to oppose evil without mercy, according to RAW.
I guess I'm just mostly curious as to how strictly a DM should stick to that week time-table, and when they should make exception.  Granted this is all opinion at this point but I think that might be where some DMs go wrong.  Not that they're bad DMs, or maybe not bad overall, but that they don't have a set time period and strict rules for making the changes.



I don't think exceptions should be made, once an acceptable timetable is established. Rule consistency is a big deal in a game, because it means world consisteny, which builds player trust and aids in suspension of disbelief.

How do you go about telling their character is going to change alignment?



I don't. I let everyone know the conditions required for alignment change, and then they have the power to change their alignment through their actions. If a player doesn't seem to realize their alignment is changing, I let them know. If they try and argue with me when it happens, I re-explain the system to them, and let them know it's no different than if all their hp had run out resulting in death. I've never actually had to go that far though. The farthest I've had to go is a simple re-explanation of point one. 

What's the warning system like?



If I see someone grossly behaving against a selected alignment, I ask them if they're doing tha because they're changing alignment, or if they're acting out of character. If it's the first one, I say something along the lines of, "ah, I see." If it's the second one, as in they don't mean to be lawful and are trying to be chaotic, I let them know that they are acting out of character, and give a very brief recap of what lawful and chaotic are. 

How often do you find yourself having to use the alignment change rules for each new group?



The last time I invoked alignment changing rules was as a player, and before that, I can't really remember. But I changed my wizard from neutral good to neutral. He was a wide starry-eyed kid with dreams of making it big as an adventurer and heroically battling horrible villains along the way. His first adventure rolled around and two of his friends got butchered and he almost died, then he started to suffer from mild PTSD and a strong overriding desire to protect the people he cared about. This caused him to delve into some pretty nasty magic, and as time went on and he was exposed to more and more of the world, he just got more cynical. So he ended up neutral. 

How often do you find yourself having to use the alignment change rules within a group?



The time it happens most often is when I run games, but even that's rare. No one generally seems to be interested in alignment changes. 

Have you played or been in a group that you felt the DM was being too "judicious" in the rules of changing alignment?



Actually yes. Me, when I first started out and I didn't have a solid grasp on any of the rules yet. This was a decade ago though and it only happened a couple times before I figured out what I was doing wrong in that area.

I'm mostly interested because while I started D&D with 3e I was a lot younger and less experienced in all things D&D. At this point I only play 4e, and while alignment is still available, it's mostly just a role-playing aid without as many distinctions or any mechanical connections. I just would like to hear about the thoughts about alignment from someone with a bit more experience on it.



Personally, I think it's cool that there's a mechanical voice for things like dangerous dark magic, holy swords, wild spirits, and things like that. It makes sorting magical effects a lot easier and more sensible for one. I think some of the alignment based effects are too fiddly though. "+2 Against a spell from the enchantment school if cast by an evil creautre on X plane of existence for a number of rounds equal to 2+charisma mod. This ability funtions 3 times per day." I don't think that's a problem llimited to alignment effects though. That said, I think alignment effects should be above and beyond simple small stat bonuses.

Thank you for answering my questions Zaramon. I think my exchanges with you have been the most helpful conversation in my understanding of alignment in earlier editions that I've ever had. Additionally I'm glad that you went out of the way to cover some of usually less addressed issues that I feel might be the stumbling blocks of alignment rules for many a DM, mainly the consistency in applying it.


On the mechanical benefits of alignment side of things, I'm going to have to respectfully take the opposite stance, at least in some regards. I'm mostly against the notion of having it tied to classes and power sources, I suppose if a character wants to eventually shift their character's alignment and takes steps to do so it's really their own choice that the character can't progress further in certain classes. Although I'm all for the "Only those of good/evil heart may enter/use place/item".  Although I suppose the class restriction isn't an issue in 4th, and while items that require alignment requirements don't exist normally it's easy enought to make one if you need one.

Again, glad I could help. I'm totally okay with you disagreeing with me about any part of the game, and if our conversation improves the quality of your games, then I'm happy.
Sorry I'm not too familiar with the book of Vile Darkness so I can't comment too much on that. However I am curious are any of those evil actions considered not evil or less evil if they are used for just means?


Yes, actually.  The BoVD states, for example "Lying is not necessarily an evil act, though it is a tool that can easily be used for evil."
Betrayal can be unintentional, vengeance if not taken too far, and so on.
Does a cleric animating the dead to protect a village from an approaching army count as a reprehensible evil?


The spells that animate the dead all have the evil descriptor, so casting them is invariably an evil act.  The BoVD states: "Even if they are commanded to do something good, undead invariably bring negative energy into the world, which makes it a darker and more evil place."
What if you bargain your own soul with fiends to help others than yourself?



The section about "Damning or Harming Souls" was about the souls of others.  That "harming one's enemies physically is not inherently villainous, harming their souls is always evil."  Your example is "Consorting With Fiends", and yes, it's still evil.  The offer of fiendish assistance in order for the contractee to "do good" is one of the most classic tropes of corruption in fantasy.
Examples:
Anakin Skywalker turns to the Dark Side to seek the power to save Padme.
Vaarsuvius of Order of the Stick makes a deal with fiends to save his/her spouse and children.
Johnny Blaze signs over his soul to Mephistopholes in order to cure his father's cancer.

And so on.  Yes, it's evil.

While I was not clear with my original example it's a little different then what is in the DMG. As detailed in my post above I was meaning to refer to a LG person that had committed evil actions for a week (perhaps because of some character background, or a particular circumstance that the character perceived as the only means to do something, or maybe a player that wanted to try role-playing differently and found out that they didn't like it).

As for the example let's not go too far and just assume that it's a contrived because a player engages in some form of Meta game. That's a topic for another post, and there really has been enough of those posts too, and it really is just a preference on the DM how much a player is allowed to engage in it.


I'm sorry that I don't understand the example properly then, and so cannot answer it.


Just a few quick questions that I was pondering:

Should a DM to change the alignment of a class with an alignment restriction if a player is behaving in a manner that is only a one step change? For example a paladin that is really neutral good or a monk that is more neutral than lawful. This is an opinion question so there isn't a really right or wrong answer, I'm just more interested in learning your thoughts on the matter.


My personal stance as a DM is that for classes with no alignment restrictions, or penalties associated with alignment deviation, to give them notice after several in-game days of demonstrated behavior.  With classes like clerics, paladins, or monks, for example, the warning would come after only a few examples of the behavior.  Obviously, with a paladin, if any act in question was Evil, I would notify him/her immediately.  But paladin's don't lose their powers for commiting acts which are Neutral on the Good/Evil axis.  Only if they behave in that manner consistently enough to change their alignment, and I covered that above.

The Law/Chaos axis is, IMO, the hardest to move along.  Because adherence to laws or codes does not necessarily mean Lawful alignment, and breaking laws or codes does not mandate a Chaotic one.  My personal opinion on alignment is that one's Good/Evil alignment is more about the values and opinions one consciously holds, and that one's Law/Chaos alignment is more subconscious, and is more about how an individual carries out his/her moral attitudes.

What would be the "Good" response for a group of knights that encounter an orc hunting group assuming that both groups see each other, and that the orcs don't seem hostile? Let's assume that these hunting grounds are common ground, and that the orcs don't have any human bodies with or nearby them. Once again I know there isn't one right answer just interested in your thoughts.


That seems like an alignment trap.  Because what if one of the knights lost his family to orcs and hates them?  Have orcs been raiding nearby settlements (i.e. do these knights have reason to believe these orcs are guilty of crimes against humans)?
You say that the orcs "do not appear hostile".  Do they go out of their way to do so, such as holding up their hands and attempting to communicate?  If the orcs are making obvious overt overtures of peace, then it would be evil to kill them.


How do you go about telling their character is going to change alignment?  What's the warning system like?  How often do you find yourself having to use the alignment change rules for each new group?  How often do you find yourself having to use the alignment change rules within a group?  Have you played or been in a group that you felt the DM was being too "judicious" in the rules of changing alignment?


It's a direct conversation with the player, usually after a session, so as not to bog down the session.  As far as how often, only a handful of times.  When I told the player that the way he was playing his character was contrary to the way he presented his character concept to me (radically so, in one case), he realized that, and decided that he wanted to adhere to his original concept rather than change alignment.  Mind you, the times it's happened has been with a dwarven wizard, a human fighter, and a warforged artificer.

Also, recently, I have changed the alignment of one player suddenly.  The players found a piece of the Rod of Seven Parts.  Now, keep in mind, the players, by this point, knew full well that to Rod was a Major Artifact of Law.  They had also experienced a bunch of traps (made by the same Wind Dukes who made the Rod) on the way to the artifact that affected everyone but the LG cleric in the party.  So EVERYONE knew that the Rod's energies would be potentially detrimental to everyone but the cleric.  Well, the TN Rogue picked it up, and rolled a 1 on his Will save (it was only a DC17, since it was just one piece).  Well, I changed his alignment to LN on the spot, and explained to him what that meant after the game.  That his character's very mindset had been permanently altered by the Rod, and that I expected to see some evidence of more disciplined behavior from him from now on.

I have HEARD of DMs that were too harsh in changing alignment, but never experienced it firsthand.



I don't think exceptions should be made, once an acceptable timetable is established. Rule consistency is a big deal in a game, because it means world consisteny, which builds player trust and aids in suspension of disbelief.


Agreed.  DMs need to be consistent.


I don't. I let everyone know the conditions required for alignment change, and then they have the power to change their alignment through their actions. If a player doesn't seem to realize their alignment is changing, I let them know. If they try and argue with me when it happens, I re-explain the system to them, and let them know it's no different than if all their hp had run out resulting in death. I've never actually had to go that far though. The farthest I've had to go is a simple re-explanation of point one.

Same here.


The last time I invoked alignment changing rules was as a player, and before that, I can't really remember. But I changed my wizard from neutral good to neutral. He was a wide starry-eyed kid with dreams of making it big as an adventurer and heroically battling horrible villains along the way. His first adventure rolled around and two of his friends got butchered and he almost died, then he started to suffer from mild PTSD and a strong overriding desire to protect the people he cared about. This caused him to delve into some pretty nasty magic, and as time went on and he was exposed to more and more of the world, he just got more cynical. So he ended up neutral.  


Funny, I had just the opposite happen last time I was a player.  I had a TN Sun Elf Wizard, whose views on good/evil/law/chaos were academic at best.  Well, as we continued adventuring, I found myself more and more doing things I didn't have to, like restoring a desacrated shrine to Mystra (which was reasoned because I didn't like the disrespect to Mystra), and eventually doing more and more to advocate the good of the Elven people (I ended up restoring Myth Drannor's magic academy), and to stop the machinations of Shar.  I spoke with my DM that I felt my character was beginning to drift into NG territory.


Personally, I think it's cool that there's a mechanical voice for things like dangerous dark magic, holy swords, wild spirits, and things like that. It makes sorting magical effects a lot easier and more sensible for one.

And I agree, wholeheartedly.  One reason I am in favor of alignment mechanics.
Interesting story about the sun elf. My brother is actually doing something kind of similar with a chaotic neutral fighter. His heritage involved serving this good-aligned god, there's a family heirloom that won't do anything until he comes to grips with said heritage, or something like that.

Making me really want to get back to playing. Can't wait until finals week is over.
Sorry I didn't mean to create an alignment trap with the example with the knights, I guess I was trying to pose an example that helped me understand the situation.  I was trying to think of the situation that assuming no previous bias towards the other group and in a situation where they weren't threatening each other would it be a good action to attack when unprovoked. 

As for the other example with the alignment change Zaramon answered it so no problems there.  Basically it boiled down to how often should you actually check for alignment change, which amounts to a week or more as long as you use the same length of time.  The other part is how do you gauge the amount of evil or good actions a character had done within that week time frame.  That answer amounted to just examining the overall picture over time and didn't have a specific science to it as long as you set some rules for yourself on it and stuck to it.  I apologize to Zaramon if I took the wrong information away from that.  

As for the mechanical aspects of alignment my main view is that I'm more of a fan of it existing as a role-playing aid.  To me most of the mechanical benefits aren't enough to have it as a main feature of alignment, but then again since at that point it's opinion based no real right answer.

Thank you for sharring your opinions and experiences on the other questions with me.  
  

As for the mechanical aspects of alignment my main view is that I'm more of a fan of it existing as a role-playing aid.  To me most of the mechanical benefits aren't enough to have it as a main feature of alignment, but then again since at that point it's opinion based no real right answer.

Thank you for sharring your opinions and experiences on the other questions with me.  
  


Thank you for participating in the diuscussion!

I can't really add to anything Zaramon said. He does stuff pretty much 100% the same way that I do and seems to handle his games the same way I do.

I WILL however take the time to thank Zaramon for answering the questions in such an insightful manner AND thank Shaddylogic for posing the questions in the first place.

It's always great to see actual discussion take place.

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Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

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I direct you to the past couple pages where there were questions about the function of RAW, and said RAW was explained, using facts from the books. There was at least one poster that said he felt like the quality of his understanding of the system increased for the discussion in this thread. You can say or feel whatever you want to, (So long as it doesn't violate the CoC.) but that is in fact not a standstill, but a moving forward. Also, who exactly is controlling what?
I’ve removed content from this thread because trollling is a violation of the Code of Conduct.

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Don't know what was said that got deleted, but I'm just as happy it was (yay ORC's).  I was pretty clear about how I didn't want people trolling in this thread.
Interesting story about the sun elf. My brother is actually doing something kind of similar with a chaotic neutral fighter. His heritage involved serving this good-aligned god, there's a family heirloom that won't do anything until he comes to grips with said heritage, or something like that.

Making me really want to get back to playing. Can't wait until finals week is over.


The struggle of a Neutral character desiring (or moving towards) Good reminds me of a 3e warlock concept I came up with for Eberron.
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Jherek d'Aashta is a CN male human warlock.  His parents were part of a Cult of the Dragon Below (common in the Shadow Marches, and among the Aashta family-one of the three families of House Tharashk).  Before he was born, his pregnant mother participated in a ritual in which his parents bargained their souls to imbue their child with dark powers.  From a very young age, Jherek was inducted into the cult, and has been innundated with the idea that he is the "dark messiah" of this cult.  His warlock powers manifested shortly after puberty, but not many recognized them as such, believing him to be a sorcerer learning to control his powers.  This was reinforced by him duplicating what seemed to be low-level spell effects.  That came from something else.  The dark ritual also twisted something in him, and during those troubled teenage years, he also manifested an aberrant dragonmark (Burning Hands).  To his parents and their fellow cultists, this was further proof of his status as their "messiah".
Jherek, however, fears and rejects this destiny.  When he was old enough, he ran away, taking everything he owned, and hopping on a lightning rail to Sharn.  He secretly fears that his powers are inherently evil, and that there is no way to redeem the taint of his soul.  He sees evidence of this in the agonizing way people die when subjected to his eldricth blast.  He also knows the stigma attached to his dragonmark, and hides it well (it's on his chest, just a little lower than his heart).  He believes that if he can become an adventurer, and perhaps channel his "unholy" power for good purposes, he will in some way find redemption.  As he believes all he can do with it is kill, adventuring seemed a perfect choice.  Plus, he wants to stay on the move, in case his (well-connected) family ever tries to drag him back home.  He is Chaotic Neutral, and not Good because he does not believe he can be Good, and thus is amoral in action, even though his secret desire is to be good and find "redemption".  However, the feat choices I have planned for him have little to do with choices he makes, and are more about his dark powers growing darker and stronger (Higher level aberrant marks, Mark of Madness, Mark of Xoriat, etc.)
What Jherek does not know (and I would love to have a DM who could work this into a story eventually), is that the ritual that his parent underwent also invited into his body a spiritual parasite.  He is possessed, technically, by a (currently dormant) rakshasa, one of the fiends that is the source of his parents' cult's worship.  This would be an excellent story hook, if something (probably his increasing power) caused the fiend to eventually awaken, and him to seek a means of exorcism (likely the Church of the Silver Flame).  With the demon excised from his body, he would likely believe himself to no longer be a warlock (which of course isn't true, his parents made the pact, those powers are his).
Ideally (and this presumes a lot about how such a story would go, but this is the overall story in my head), he would find himself able to use his powers again to protect his friends (likely against the very fiend that was just removed from him).  Calling upon all of his inner resources, he would strike at the fiend, and find his eldritch blast has changed from a dark purple-black to a shining blast of silver energy.  Eventually, I would see him converting to worship of the Silver Flame (and becoming CG), and truly becoming the hero he always wished he could be, feeling that the taint had been removed.


Kind of already involved, I know, but I like to come up with character flaws in concept for a character, and find ways to overcome them in-game.  For example, my Sun Elf wizard...he started off (at level 1) as extremely ethnocentric.  Going as far as to say racist.  He believed that elves were superior to all other races, as if that was some kind of inherent fact of the universe.  He was arrogant and condescending, believing other races had nothing they could offer that elves could not do better.  Didn't help that he was born in Evermeet and raised in Silverymoon, both mostly-elf populated areas.  As he adventured, however, he came to see the strengths of other races, not only in his companions, but in the world around him.  He eventually completely ceased his arrogant ways, as his views on those other races had changed completely.

Don't confuse my views with Chiba's. If anything, I've been the one saying that killing anything that glows red would be a good act. Chiba makes some interesting points for that not being the case, but I'm reserving judgment on that for now. All I will say is that it is a known trait of lawful good to oppose evil without mercy, according to RAW.



I don't think the RAW says that about LG.  It says that Alhandra opposed evil without mercy (and protects the innocent without hesitation).  But that's just the given example of one Lawful Good character.  Some of the actual traits of LG in the RAW are:
A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected to act.  She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly.  She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice.  A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.  Alahandra, a paladin who fights evil without mercy and protects the innocent without hesitation, is lawful good.
Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion


Now, I'm not going to bold stuff for you in there, but you can see where I'm coming from.  The section on "The Nine Alignments" preceeding this says that each description depicts a character of that alignment.  And, just as the section for the other alignments' examples is not necessarily a given trait of that alignment (not all CN characters "wander the land living by [their] wits" like Gimble), neither is the section on Alhandra a given trait of Lawful Good itself (speaking here of the traits of Lawful Good in and of, itself).
I figure you were equating the "no mercy for evil" with :hates to see the guilty go unpunished" which IS a trait of LG.  But let me ask you: what are  the orc children "guilty" of?  Being orcs?  LG is seen to combine "honor and compassion", as per RAW.  Where's the compassion?
Of course I'm playing devil's advocate because there are a number of factors to consider.  For example: DO the orc children, in fact, ping as evil?  
Also: Does the paladin's particular code mandate the destruction of all orcs?  That one's no very likely, as, in the original scenario, the part was attempting to more or less negotiate a peaceful solution to the issue of orc succession, and a paladin of an orc-hating deity should be left behind for that mission.  Although I find it ironic that an elf king was giving the mission, as I see Corellon Larethian as the deity most likely to have such a thing in his dogma (given the histroy between him and Gruumsh).
Thirdly: Given your stance on alignment, and how you agree that it is NOT an absolute barometer of action nor affiliation, what about the similarity between this situation and the NE bartender?  Would you advocate a paladin cutting down a 50 year old unarmed man in a bar in town, just because he "pinged as evil"?  What if the guy just waters down his ale and overcharges for it?  Or keeps the rooms at the inn filthy, and doesn't care about cleaning them?  He is, after all, just a miserly old man.  He has commited no crimes, and while he might daydream about poisoning the adventurers who come into his bar, he won't.  The orc children, EVEN IF THEY DO "ping as evil" haven't actually done anything yet.

Like I said, I am playing Devil's Advocate and I am nitpicking, mostly because I made the mistake of making the statement earlier that "killing an evil craeture is not an evil act", my mind must have been asleep when I typed that, since I use the NE bartender example ALL THE TIME when discussing morality of action in D&D.  So I really am curious if you just didn't remember the exact text of RAW, or if you still believe what you said above, and how you would respond.
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I did tell you I was looking forward to debating something with you Wink
 
Hehe, you just don't give up do you? Believe it or not some of this was actually the argument Maxperson tried to make in that other thread.

It's been a while since I looked at that specific text, but hey, why not give it a try.

Yes, it does say Alhandra specifically does that, but it's pretty clear that those actions are identified with the lawful good alignment. So, you could totally be lawful good by doing that.  You could also ask what form of fighting its talking about, or if it's making a distinction there at all. This calls into question the existence of the Mark of Justice spell, if one isn't allowed to show compassion against evil.

If fighting evil without mercy counts as lawful good,, yet we know from RAW that lawful good incorporates compassion, then, like you said, where's the compassion? It almost appears to be a contradition. But that's what we have context for. See, we have context for fighting without mercy, when one is fighting evil. This doesn't mean that compassion never appears, it just means compassion doesn't have to be given to evil. If compassion doesn't have to be given to evil for lawful good to be achieved, then is it okay to kill people who are otherwise helpless, if they ping evil? I'll deal with the barkeep first, then the orclings.

Well, to start with this barkeep is an ****. Does lawful good justify killing him for that? Well, not necessarily. But him being evil could mean a lot of things. If he's overcharging for ale, that may not necessarily be an evil act. The DMG identifies stealing from strangers as neutral, but stealing from people you are commited to via relationship as evil, as per the case of Garett(Spelling?) the rogue. Watering down ale and overcharging for it sounds a lot like stealing. I reach a similar conclusion to the rooms. Hard to call that one evil. Definitely not good, buthe's just inconveniencing people he doesn't know.

Now, that daydreaming about poisoning on the otherhand....Say Alhandra walks into the bar (Oh God the places we could take that.) and decides she doesn't like the look of the bartender. Well, nothing to bad, he just seems a little shifty. So she pays for her drink, gets charged five silver for pint of watered down swill. I wouldn't be surprised if she was at least irritated at this point. (Btw, check out the story of Scyulla Darkhope, the paladin who fell because she unwittingly made a bargain with an evil creature. Happened in Forgotten Realms. So there is a precident for that kind of thing.)

So, he's evil, but maybe forgotten realms is slightly different or whatever, and Alhandra doesn't suddenly feel her powers leave her because she made a deal with an evil creature. Then she sees the state of her room. At this point, she might be getting suspicious enough to start detecting. So she detects him, and he glows red. Alhandra decides to get the wizard to check out this guy's surface thoughts, and discovers he has murderous impulses, and tells Alhandra. Now she's going to go put zone of truth on him and asks him who he wants to kill. He says her and her friends. Think she's going to let him live? Personally, I doubt it. He's a threat. Maybe not a serious one, but a threat still, and he's taken a side in an eternal cosmic struggle. Would she be in keeping with lawful good if she killed him? Well, that certainly counts as fighting evil without mercy, which is implied to be lawful good.

Now, the orc babies. See, this is where things get tricky. Ping evil, no threat, haven't done anything wrong. Alhandra fights evil without mercy. They're evil. But, what about the paladin code? Now, that may be in keeping with Alhandra's personality, and it may even be her demonstrating "lawful good traits" to do so. But here's the problem. It's absolutely against the paladin code. 100%. Why? For one reason, and one reason only. It wouldn't be an honorable fight. While a lawful good trait is to oppose evil without mercy, it has to be honorable opposition as well. Merciless, and honorable. Good, and Law. Now, about the guilt thing, you could argue that they're guilty of being evil. Now, in the real world that would be the worst exercise of circular logic ever, but since evil is a thing in D&D, you can be guilty of simply being evil. Though, I would argue that babies aren't developed enough to have the capacity for morality at all, which is exactly what it says about animals in the MM, and on that grounds types all non-sentient animals as neutral. I would think the same is true for babies, so they shouldn't realistically ping evil.

Hrm....after all my reasoning, I'm going to say that you can in fact be guilty of simply being evil, and good, especially lawful good, would probably punish for it. Alhandra would engage in merciless punishment. I'm going to say that the babies can't be evil on the grounds that they lack the capability for morality in any capacity, just as an animal does, and therefore all babies are neutral.
Hehe, you just don't give up do you? Believe it or not some of this was actually the argument Maxperson tried to make in that other thread.


You guys seemed to be arguing the definition of "innocent" from what I saw.  And the one point in that thread that I saw, I actually agreed with his point.  I would, however, advise that you refrain from referencing other people by name in other threads, it can lead to people arguing that you are talking smack about them elsewhere on the forums.  That's clearly not the case here, but just a point I would stick to in the future.

It's been a while since I looked at that specific text, but hey, why not give it a try.

Yes, it does say Alhandra specifically does that, but it's pretty clear that those actions are identified with the lawful good alignment. So, you could totally be lawful good by doing that.  You could also ask what form of fighting its talking about, or if it's making a distinction there at all. This calls into question the existence of the Mark of Justice spell, if one isn't allowed to show compassion against evil.


I never argued against the fact that someone could be Lawful Good doing that.  In fact, it's one of the points I made in my examples.  I was arguing the specific connotation of the point that "opposing evil without mercy" was a general trait of the Lawful Good alignment.  You have been making that point on that other thread as well.  I simply wanted to point out that it is not, in fact, a general trait of the LG alignment, but rather a trait of an example LG person.

If fighting evil without mercy counts as lawful good,, yet we know from RAW that lawful good incorporates compassion, then, like you said, where's the compassion? It almost appears to be a contradition. But that's what we have context for. See, we have context for fighting without mercy, when one is fighting evil. This doesn't mean that compassion never appears, it just means compassion doesn't have to be given to evil. If compassion doesn't have to be given to evil for lawful good to be achieved, then is it okay to kill people who are otherwise helpless, if they ping evil? I'll deal with the barkeep first, then the orclings.

Well, to start with this barkeep is an ****. Does lawful good justify killing him for that? Well, not necessarily. But him being evil could mean a lot of things. If he's overcharging for ale, that may not necessarily be an evil act. The DMG identifies stealing from strangers as neutral, but stealing from people you are commited to via relationship as evil, as per the case of Garett(Spelling?) the rogue. Watering down ale and overcharging for it sounds a lot like stealing. I reach a similar conclusion to the rooms. Hard to call that one evil. Definitely not good, buthe's just inconveniencing people he doesn't know.

Now, that daydreaming about poisoning on the otherhand....Say Alhandra walks into the bar (Oh God the places we could take that.) and decides she doesn't like the look of the bartender. Well, nothing to bad, he just seems a little shifty. So she pays for her drink, gets charged five silver for pint of watered down swill. I wouldn't be surprised if she was at least irritated at this point. (Btw, check out the story of Scyulla Darkhope, the paladin who fell because she unwittingly made a bargain with an evil creature. Happened in Forgotten Realms. So there is a precident for that kind of thing.)

So, he's evil, but maybe forgotten realms is slightly different or whatever, and Alhandra doesn't suddenly feel her powers leave her because she made a deal with an evil creature. Then she sees the state of her room. At this point, she might be getting suspicious enough to start detecting. So she detects him, and he glows red. Alhandra decides to get the wizard to check out this guy's surface thoughts, and discovers he has murderous impulses, and tells Alhandra. Now she's going to go put zone of truth on him and asks him who he wants to kill. He says her and her friends. Think she's going to let him live? Personally, I doubt it. He's a threat. Maybe not a serious one, but a threat still, and he's taken a side in an eternal cosmic struggle. Would she be in keeping with lawful good if she killed him? Well, that certainly counts as fighting evil without mercy, which is implied to be lawful good.


Perhaps I was not clear.  The man is NE because he is extremely selfish.  Because really, there's 2 kinds of NE: "super-selfish" and"evil for the sake of evil".  I usually exemplify them with the 2 NE PHB deities, Vecna and Nerull.  Vecna advocates hoarding knowledge and power, and being self-serving regardless of who it affects.  To Nerull, life itself is an abomination which must be annihilated, and undeath is a preferred state of being.
The bartender is "Vecna-style" NE.  He's a miserly old man who literally counts every copper at the end of every day.  He has no loved ones, no family, and no real friends to speak of.  His neighbors find him unpleasant and cantankerous.  I mentioned "daydreaming about poisoning people" because it was brought up in whatever article I originally pulled this example from.  He would never actually poison anybody.  He's a coward.  He never has actually poisoned anybody, nor commited any crimes that could wind him up on the side of the law, since there aren't actually any LAWS regarding quality and pricing of ale.  His inn would qualify as "poor" quality rooms.  His ale is only 3cp per mug (as opposed to the 4cp of the PHB ale), but it's about 1/2 the strength of a cup of standard D&D ale.  It's not a matter of inconveniencing people, he knows full well that he's watering down his ale.  He does it to extract every copper he can out of each barrel. His customers mostly consist of people too poor to go to a better bar.  His bar is a dirty place, where someone is likely to get knifed by another bar patron...a "hive of scum and villainy", if you will.  He's a level 1 or 2 Commoner, and would thus only register as a "Faint" aura of evil on a paladin's detection.  If confronted, as per your example, he would also trip over himself, blubbering that he would never actually poison anyone, nor has he ever (which would still register as true in a zone of truth).
Oh, and a paladin would not lose their powers from buying something from someone who is evil.  Pelor only knows how many greedy merchants in the D&D world have evil alignments.

So...knowing a bit more...does that change your stance?  He's still an unarmed man, guilty of no crimes.  I did mention he's unarmed, right?

Now, the orc babies. See, this is where things get tricky. Ping evil, no threat, haven't done anything wrong. Alhandra fights evil without mercy. They're evil. But, what about the paladin code? Now, that may be in keeping with Alhandra's personality, and it may even be her demonstrating "lawful good traits" to do so. But here's the problem. It's absolutely against the paladin code. 100%. Why? For one reason, and one reason only. It wouldn't be an honorable fight. While a lawful good trait is to oppose evil without mercy, it has to be honorable opposition as well. Merciless, and honorable. Good, and Law. Now, about the guilt thing, you could argue that they're guilty of being evil. Now, in the real world that would be the worst exercise of circular logic ever, but since evil is a thing in D&D, you can be guilty of simply being evil. Though, I would argue that babies aren't developed enough to have the capacity for morality at all, which is exactly what it says about animals in the MM, and on that grounds types all non-sentient animals as neutral. I would think the same is true for babies, so they shouldn't realistically ping evil.

Hrm....after all my reasoning, I'm going to say that you can in fact be guilty of simply being evil, and good, especially lawful good, would probably punish for it. Alhandra would engage in merciless punishment. I'm going to say that the babies can't be evil on the grounds that they lack the capability for morality in any capacity, just as an animal does, and therefore all babies are neutral.


I'm glad you came to the "helpless opponent" reasoning at least.  But, keep in mind, the RAW says that orcs have innate tendancies towards Chaotic Evil.  Which means that something inherent in the orc condition leads them towards chaotic and evil behavior.  So, by extension, there is a chance that some of those orc children (the original example said children, who made the switch to "babies"?) register as evil.
Keeping in mind both that and the "helpless opponent" bit, does your stance remain the same?

And, to make it clear, we have already agreed that "what a LG person could precieve as acceptable" and "a LG act" are 2 different things.  We know that someone of the LG alignment could do anything.  The issue is whether or not these are "evil acts". 
Perhaps I was not clear.  The man is NE because he is extremely selfish.  Because really, there's 2 kinds of NE: "super-selfish" and"evil for the sake of evil".  I usually exemplify them with the 2 NE PHB deities, Vecna and Nerull.  Vecna advocates hoarding knowledge and power, and being self-serving regardless of who it affects.  To Nerull, life itself is an abomination which must be annihilated, and undeath is a preferred state of being.



Pretty sure you have to commit some pretty harsh acts to be evil. I'm not sure that he would be evil unless he's done things to become evil.

The bartender is "Vecna-style" NE.  He's a miserly old man who literally counts every copper at the end of every day.  He has no loved ones, no family, and no real friends to speak of.  His neighbors find him unpleasant and cantankerous.  I mentioned "daydreaming about poisoning people" because it was brought up in whatever article I originally pulled this example from.  He would never actually poison anybody.  He's a coward.  He never has actually poisoned anybody, nor commited any crimes that could wind him up on the side of the law, since there aren't actually any LAWS regarding quality and pricing of ale.  His inn would qualify as "poor" quality rooms.  His ale is only 3cp per mug (as opposed to the 4cp of the PHB ale), but it's about 1/2 the strength of a cup of standard D&D ale.  It's not a matter of inconveniencing people, he knows full well that he's watering down his ale.  He does it to extract every copper he can out of each barrel. His customers mostly consist of people too poor to go to a better bar.  His bar is a dirty place, where someone is likely to get knifed by another bar patron...a "hive of scum and villainy", if you will.  He's a level 1 or 2 Commoner, and would thus only register as a "Faint" aura of evil on a paladin's detection.  If confronted, as per your example, he would also trip over himself, blubbering that he would never actually poison anyone, nor has he ever (which would still register as true in a zone of truth).

So...knowing a bit more...does that change your stance?  He's still an unarmed man, guilty of no crimes.  I did mention he's unarmed, right?



Really, based on all that he sounds like he should be neutral. Can someone be evil without actually doing anything to be evil? If he's done something to be evil, then he has at the very least inflicted harm on a bystander for personal gain.

Sorry if I'm being difficult.

I'm glad you came to the "helpless opponent" reasoning at least.  But, keep in mind, the RAW says that orcs have innate tendancies towards Chaotic Evil.  Which means that something inherent in the orc condition leads them towards chaotic and evil behavior.  So, by extension, there is a chance that some of those orc children (the original example said children, who made the switch to "babies"?) register as evil.

Keeping in mind both that and the "helpless opponent" bit, does your stance remain the same?



I'm going to say that I don't think those tendencies would actually kick in until they have the necessary capacity for moral choice, just like an animal.

And, to make it clear, we have already agreed that "what a LG person could precieve as acceptable" and "a LG act" are 2 different things.  We know that someone of the LG alignment could do anything.  The issue is whether or not these are "evil acts". 



Of course.
My friend i only read your starting post and I m going express my opinion .I don't think alignment limits any campaigns or players and it's really close to real life people .For example some people would never steal or kill a person so that in d&d words means that they can't be evil.Also studies have shown that some people hide evil inside by birth or how they lived their childhood.I love alignemnts since i'm playing from 2nd edtion and really didn't like the fact that they removed some of them in 4th edition.Also imagine another example monks in real life and monks in d&d,knight in real life(medieval ages)knight in d&d.They have ethics,morales,believes etc.so why we don't have them in d&d ?It's not bad choosing a character in this fantasy game and say the character will be a knight with honor or an assasin that killed his family etc.Glad alignment exists in d&d SINCE it exists in real life too!
In response to the questions of "Would a Lawful Good character do X".  I think the most important thing is why they did it.

Example: "Would a Lawful Good character kill an innocent person?"  It seems like it'd be "No," but what if they did it because they thought the innocent person was the BBEG who's been killing entire villages?  In that case, it's perfectly in-line with LG principles, even if the character was wrong in who he thought the person was.

This can be carried over to morally ambiguous situations, in this case "Would a Lawful Good character exterminate an entire village of orcs?"


  • If they did it because they felt the orcs would almost certainly raid villages and kill innocent humans, then it's in-line with LG principles, even if it's not a black-and-white situation.  I think morally ambiguous situations like this could have a LG character do either of the extremes, and still be in-line with LG principlies, as long as their intent was in-line with LG principles (see the next bullet for clarification).

  • If he did it purely because of a hatred for orcs, and he likes to see them dying and bleeding, without any motivation of premeptively saving innocent humans, then it's not in-line with LG principles.  (It's important to note that, IMHO, such an action is impossible for a LG character; it's just not something he'd be doing frequently if he really wants to be LG.  But even LG characters can sometimes "slip up" and violate their own moral code, which I imagine would be followed up with regret, shame, guilt, etc).

In response to the questions of "Would a Lawful Good character do X".  I think the most important thing is why they did it.

Example: "Would a Lawful Good character kill an innocent person?"  It seems like it'd be "No," but what if they did it because they thought the innocent person was the BBEG who's been killing entire villages?  In that case, it's perfectly in-line with LG principles, even if the character was wrong in who he thought the person was.



Butchering an innocent is still an evil act by RAW.

This can be carried over to morally ambiguous situations, in this case "Would a Lawful Good character exterminate an entire village of orcs?"


  • If they did it because they felt the orcs would almost certainly raid villages and kill innocent humans, then it's in-line with LG principles, even if it's not a black-and-white situation.  I think morally ambiguous situations like this could have a LG character do either of the extremes, and still be in-line with LG principlies, as long as their intent was in-line with LG principles (see the next bullet for clarification).

  • If he did it purely because of a hatred for orcs, and he likes to see them dying and bleeding, without any motivation of premeptively saving innocent humans, then it's not in-line with LG principles.  (It's important to note that, IMHO, such an action is impossible for a LG character; it's just not something he'd be doing frequently if he really wants to be LG.  But even LG characters can sometimes "slip up" and violate their own moral code, which I imagine would be followed up with regret, shame, guilt, etc).



So let me ask you this; If the orcs are in fact evil, and they're actively hurting people, and the paladin steps in and kills all the orcs, thereby saving the innocents, but only does so because he hated the orcs, is what he did still not in line with lawful good principles?
In response to the questions of "Would a Lawful Good character do X".  I think the most important thing is why they did it.

Example: "Would a Lawful Good character kill an innocent person?"  It seems like it'd be "No," but what if they did it because they thought the innocent person was the BBEG who's been killing entire villages?  In that case, it's perfectly in-line with LG principles, even if the character was wrong in who he thought the person was.



Butchering an innocent is still an evil act by RAW.



If the killing of an innocent when you honestly thought he was a Hitler-esque bad guy is still evil by RAW, then I'm simply flabbergastered.
Personally, I think you're wrong (with all due respect to you, and the understanding that I'm often wrong when I think I'm right, yet still harbor opinions nonetheless).  Results do not define good/evil, intent does.

What you said would be on-par with saying: "If performing action "X" results in the bad-guy walking free to continue doing bad things, then it was an evil action." The result (bad guy going on to do bad stuff) is indeed bad, but the intent and motives of action "X" is what's important, not the result.  
So... Trying to stop the bad guy, but failing, is evil because the result was letting the bad-guy go free to continue doing bad stuff?... the same result as freely choosing to let the bad-guy go free, or even aiding him.  This doesn't fit RAW whatsoever.

A Lawful Good paladin walks into a room.  There's a big button in the room that says "press this button to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, harbor beneficial world-peace, and have all of this done in a benevolent, compassionate, loving manner". His entire life, since his training in the Holy Order as a child, to all of his quests and studies, all his prayers and inner-reflection, have all lead him to believe this button does exactly what it says it does.  He also thinks he'll die after pressing the button, and there will never be anyone to tell his tale after; he truly wants to press it for altruistic reasons.  He walks up and presses it....
... Oh noes!  It was an elegantly designed, decades-long con organized by evil mastermind gods!  The button makes innocent babies spontaneously combust!  THE PALADIN IS NOW EVIL!  ....... really?

I think it's highly possible I'm misunderstand what you meant, since I know you're a smart guy (your posts are evidence of this), and the idea of the paladin becoming evil (or defining his action as evil) is so utterly ridiculous, I highly doubt it's what you meant.
Or I am completely and utterly wrong about RAW Good/Evil (which I accept as a wholly plausible possibility!).

This can be carried over to morally ambiguous situations, in this case "Would a Lawful Good character exterminate an entire village of orcs?"


  • If they did it because they felt the orcs would almost certainly raid villages and kill innocent humans, then it's in-line with LG principles, even if it's not a black-and-white situation.  I think morally ambiguous situations like this could have a LG character do either of the extremes, and still be in-line with LG principlies, as long as their intent was in-line with LG principles (see the next bullet for clarification).

  • If he did it purely because of a hatred for orcs, and he likes to see them dying and bleeding, without any motivation of premeptively saving innocent humans, then it's not in-line with LG principles.  (It's important to note that, IMHO, such an action is impossible for a LG character; it's just not something he'd be doing frequently if he really wants to be LG.  But even LG characters can sometimes "slip up" and violate their own moral code, which I imagine would be followed up with regret, shame, guilt, etc).



So let me ask you this; If the orcs are in fact evil, and they're actively hurting people, and the paladin steps in and kills all the orcs, thereby saving the innocents, but only does so because he hated the orcs, is what he did still not in line with lawful good principles?



I would say No.  He could've cared less what the orcs where about to do. His intent was to slaughter orcs just to see them bleed, not save anyone. (I'm assuming your example is one of hyperbole for the sake of the argument, in so much as the paladin slaughters the orcs only because he hates their faces, without any other factors involved... since if we muddied the waters by saying the paladin hates their faces because they are actively slaughtering innocents, then it's a different story entirely).

I'll flip the question around: a Lawful Evil bad-guy targets a kingdom to take over.  He wants to take it over in order to rule a tyrannical state of oppression and slavery in order to gain absolute power.  It just so happens the people in control before him were also evil.  Does this mean, by RAW, the guy is now good?  Can one Lawful Evil guy not take over the city-state of an opposing Lawful Evil guy, and still remain Lawful Evil?  The idea is ridiculous.  Of course he's still evil.  He couldn't care less if the current powers-that-be are good, or just, or helping the people they oversee, or the complete opposite.  It has nothing to do with his motives or intent.
The devils in Hell are constantly vying for power, taking over the domain of other devils, and fighting each other... but they are still evil by RAW.

If the killing of an innocent when you honestly thought he was a Hitler-esque bad guy is still evil by RAW, then I'm simply flabbergastered.
Personally, I think you're wrong (with all due respect to you, and the understanding that I'm often wrong when I think I'm right, yet still harbor opinions nonetheless).  Results do not define good/evil, intent does.



I'm not saying intent doesn't factor in, but you can bet it's secondary. I had this argument with someone in another thread for quite a while. He still thinks it's intent over act.

What you said would be on-par with saying: "If performing action "X" results in the bad-guy walking free to continue doing bad things, then it was an evil action." The result (bad guy going on to do bad stuff) is indeed bad, but the intent and motives of action "X" is what's important, not the result.  
So... Trying to stop the bad guy, but failing, is evil because the result was letting the bad-guy go free to continue doing bad stuff?... the same result as freely choosing to let the bad-guy go free, or even aiding him.  This doesn't fit RAW whatsoever.



Results are likewise secondary. Results or intent are both secondary to what was done, specifically.

A Lawful Good paladin walks into a room.  There's a big button in the room that says "press this button to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, harbor beneficial world-peace, and have all of this done in a benevolent, compassionate, loving manner". His entire life, since his training in the Holy Order as a child, to all of his quests and studies, all his prayers and inner-reflection, have all lead him to believe this button does exactly what it says it does.  He also thinks he'll die after pressing the button, and there will never be anyone to tell his tale after; he truly wants to press it for altruistic reasons.  He walks up and presses it....

... Oh noes!  It was an elegantly designed, decades-long con organized by evil mastermind gods!  The button makes innocent babies spontaneously combust!  THE PALADIN IS NOW EVIL!  ....... really?


In the 3.5 DMG, there's an item called "Phylactery of Faithfulness." It let's you know when you're about to do something contrary to your alignment or your class code. Now, the DM is still forced to tell you if an act is good/evil/lawful/chaotic if you don't know, based on the information your character has. This way, you can know if what you're doing is good/evil/lawful/chaotic, even when your character doesn't have all the facts. The very existence of this item demonstrates that intent is secondary. Say a paladin picks up a sword, and doesn't realize it's been poisoned. (Come up with an appropriate reason as to why, maybe he was disarmed or something and that was the closest weapon or something.) And he uses it. Using poison at all is a violation of the 3e paladin code and results in an immediate loss of all supernatural class abilities. There is nothing in there that says anything about ignorance or diminished culpability.

I think it's highly possible I'm misunderstand what you meant, since I know you're a smart guy (your posts are evidence of this), and the idea of the paladin becoming evil (or defining his action as evil) is so utterly ridiculous, I highly doubt it's what you meant.
Or I am completely and utterly wrong about RAW Good/Evil (which I accept as a wholly plausible possibility!).


Well, thank you. I should note that this depends largely on if you're using 3e or 4e alignment RAW.

I would say No.  He could've cared less what the orcs where about to do. His intent was to slaughter orcs just to see them bleed, not save anyone. (I'm assuming your example is one of hyperbole for the sake of the argument, in so much as the paladin slaughters the orcs only because he hates their faces, without any other factors involved... since if we muddied the waters by saying the paladin hates their faces because they are actively slaughtering innocents, then it's a different story entirely).

I'll flip the question around: a Lawful Evil bad-guy targets a kingdom to take over.  He wants to take it over in order to rule a tyrannical state of oppression and slavery in order to gain absolute power.  It just so happens the people in control before him were also evil.  Does this mean, by RAW, the guy is now good?  Can one Lawful Evil guy not take over the city-state of an opposing Lawful Evil guy, and still remain Lawful Evil?  The idea is ridiculous.  Of course he's still evil.  He couldn't care less if the current powers-that-be are good, or just, or helping the people they oversee, or the complete opposite.  It has nothing to do with his motives or intent.
The devils in Hell are constantly vying for power, taking over the domain of other devils, and fighting each other... but they are still evil by RAW.



The thing about devils, is that they're manifestations of evil. And it is true that evil doesn't always get along. But the question is, what specifically is being done? In the case of a paladin, he acted in a completely lawful good manner, rushing to fight evil and protect the innocent. 3e alignment RAW doesn't say much about motivation. As for the evil guy, is he liberating the people, or conquering them?

In the 3.5 DMG, there's an item called "Phylactery of Faithfulness." It let's you know when you're about to do something contrary to your alignment or your class code. Now, the DM is still forced to tell you if an act is good/evil/lawful/chaotic if you don't know, based on the information your character has. This way, you can know if what you're doing is good/evil/lawful/chaotic, even when your character doesn't have all the facts. The very existence of this item demonstrates that intent is secondary. Say a paladin picks up a sword, and doesn't realize it's been poisoned. (Come up with an appropriate reason as to why, maybe he was disarmed or something and that was the closest weapon or something.) And he uses it. Using poison at all is a violation of the 3e paladin code and results in an immediate loss of all supernatural class abilities. There is nothing in there that says anything about ignorance or diminished culpability.



All I can say is, I'm extraordinarily glad I don't play RAW alignment/morality.  How... boring!

I still think a case can be met that intent is a part of RAW.  For example, when a party of PCs runs into band of orcs and slays them, it's Good.  When a roving band of chaotic evil demons runs into that same band of orcs, they slay them, it's Evil.  No, the chaotic evil kill-and-eat-everything demons were not performing a Good act.  The same exact act can be Good or Evil, depending on intent, even in RAW.  
But I digress =P  I like talking about morality, but this thread is really about RAW alignment, which just isn't all that interesting to me, so I admit I'm not as learned in the subject as most.  My original post in here was based on my misunderstanding of this thread not being only about RAW... I've stuck around because you guys have made interesting posts I've really liked, and just had to reply to! =P

When it comes to rules in mechanics of game-play, my group and I use RAW with very, very few Houserules.  As such, it's important I understand it best I can.  When it comes to morality and alignment, we take a much more detailed, complex approach than RAW (as defined by you, which is probably right).
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />If the killing of an innocent when you honestly thought he was a Hitler-esque bad guy is still evil by RAW, then I'm simply flabbergastered.
Personally, I think you're wrong (with all due respect to you, and the understanding that I'm often wrong when I think I'm right, yet still harbor opinions nonetheless).  Results do not define good/evil, intent does.



Wait...as a question to clarify this...if someone lied to someone else and convinced them that a third person was very evil...then that person went and, based on the information they had, killed a totally innocent person (the third person the lie is about)...that isn't an evil act?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

YagamiFire:

You're talking about two separate acts.
If "Bad Guy Bob" lied to "Good Guy Greg" about "Innocent Ivy", making Good Guy Greg think Ivy was thoroughly evil and therefore Greg kills her, then I'd see it like this:

Bad Guy Bob's act = evil.  He lied with the intent of an innocent dying.
Good Guy Greg = not evil.  He was lied to, and thought Ivy was evil. His motive and intent was to kill a thoroughly evil person, not to kill an innocent.

The result of Ivy dying is indeed bad.  But what makes it Good or Evil?  After all, if a random thunder-storm hit and caused Ivy to die from lightning or drowning, we'd say it was really bad, but not evil... because a storm has no intent or motive or moral agency, it's a random act of nature.  A bad result does not necesitate evil.
However, if Evil Ethan the Wizard cast a spell to make the storm appear in order to kill Ivy, than that would be an evil act.  Same result, different motives/intents.
Even D&D RAW accounts for this.  A bear or wolf might kill and eat an innocent, but they are not classified as evil because they're animals without moral agency, even though the death of the innocent is a very bad thing.

Another Example:
A tavern serves strawberry soup to Sally (which is called "strawberry soup", clearly labelled).  Sally is allergic to stawberries, but the restaurant didn't know that.  Is that an evil act on the restaurant's behalf?  Do you think the restaurant's knowledge (or lack-thereof) of Sally's allergy have any affect on their moral culpability?

Do you view both of these scenarios as equal in moral nature/classification:


  • "Hey, that Sally is deathly allergic to strawberries.... give her some of this soup, it's loaded in stawberries! Muahahaha!" *gives her the soup with an evil smirk, saying "Here's your non-strawberry soup! Nope, no strawberries in there, no-sir-ee!"* Result: Sally eats it and dies.

  • "Here's the strawberry soup, it's a great batch.  I bet she'll enjoy it and have a wonderful day because of it!" *oblivious to Sally's allergy, they give it to her saying "Here's your fresh strawberry soup, miss!"* Result: Sally eats it and dies. 

All I can say is, I'm extraordinarily glad I don't play RAW alignment/morality.  How... boring!

I still think a case can be met that intent is a part of RAW.  For example, when a party of PCs runs into band of orcs and slays them, it's Good.  When a roving band of chaotic evil demons runs into that same band of orcs, they slay them, it's Evil.  No, the chaotic evil kill-and-eat-everything demons were not performing a Good act.  The same exact act can be Good or Evil, depending on intent, even in RAW.  
But I digress =P  I like talking about morality, but this thread is really about RAW alignment, which just isn't all that interesting to me, so I admit I'm not as learned in the subject as most.  My original post in here was based on my misunderstanding of this thread not being only about RAW... I've stuck around because you guys have made interesting posts I've really liked, and just had to reply to! =P

When it comes to rules in mechanics of game-play, my group and I use RAW with very, very few Houserules.  As such, it's important I understand it best I can.  When it comes to morality and alignment, we take a much more detailed, complex approach than RAW (as defined by you, which is probably right).



The thing that I like about RAW alignment, isn't the potential for dilemma and examining the nature of morality, but for representing the classic holy sword and dark evil spells. Now, the things those represent are very interesting indeed, at least in my eyes. It would be pretty easy to make a case for intent factoring into alignment, as it does. One thing to note isthat the original alignments were just law and chaos, no good and evil.

This was based off Michael Moorcock's system that he created for Multiverse, and he hated morality, moral codes, and moral theory with a burning passion. He actually didn't like Lord of the Rings because he thought there was too much moralizing in it. So, the whole alignment system has its roots in other ideas that don't have anything to do with morality. To go further back, Moorcock's ideas are drawn from other sources that have little to nothing to do with morality. Even 3e alignment RAw says that alignments are not philosophical concepts, but forces that define the cosmos. So, that original influence still informs how the system is used.

I'm grateful that you took the time to read, consider, and respond to the ideas in this thread, and I hope your game in some way is more enjoyable because of that. If you like dealing with ideas of morality, I strongly recommend checking out either Palladium's morality system, or World of Darkness' morality system. Either can really be adapted with a minimum of effort, and may be closer to the kind of experience you enjoy than the much less moral-focused alignment system. As someone who has made moderate use of Palladium, and extensive use of World of Darkness, I can say you will probably end up liking both systems quite a bit.

Always enjoy it when someone mentions animals.

It seized the nearest of the hoofed reptilians in powerful prehensile forepaws, its blade-tipped mouth-tentacles stabbing and sawing to swiftly slay and disjoint the captured animal, carving it into bite-sized hunks. As the rest of the herd bounded away, the predator settled down in the slanting sunlight to devour its kill.

"That is why this place is so dangerous," Vergere said with a hint of a challenging smile. "It is filled with what you would call the dark side. I should say: the dark side is very, very powerful here, more powerful than anywhere else on this planet. As powerful, perhaps, as it is anywhere in the galaxy."

Jacen lowered the electrobinoculars, blinking.

"That's not the dark side," he said. "A predator hunts to feed itself and its family. That's just nature."

"And the dark side isn't? I thought the danger of the dark side was that it is natural: that's why it's easier than the light, yes?"

"Well, yes, but..."

"Is what you have seen not the exemplar of the dark side? Is this not what you fear so much: aggression, violence, passion?"

"You want to know what the real dark side would look like? If that predator had slaughtered the entire herd, just for the fun of it.
For the joy of killing."

"Do you think this predator takes no joy in its successful kill?"

Jacen looked again through the electrobinoculars, watching for a moment as the predator seemed to shiver with delight in its meal.
He didn't answer.

"Kill one, it's nature, kill them all, it's the dark side?" Vergere went on. "Is the line between nature and dark side only one of degree?
Is it the dark side if that predator kills only half the herd? A quarter?"

He lowered the electrobinoculars once more.

"It's the dark side if it kills more than it needs to feed itself and its family," he said, heating up. "That's the line. Killing when you don't need to kill."
Vergere cocked her head. "And how do you define need? Are we talking about the line of starvation, or simple malnutrition? Is it the dark side if they only eat half the slain animal? Does a predator partake of the dark side if its family is a few kilos overweight?"

"It's not about that..."

"Then what is it about? Are we back to why? Does intention always trump action? It's not the dark side for that predator, say, to slaughter the entire herd and leave them to rot, so long as it thinks it needs them for food?"

"It's not that simple," Jacen insisted. "And it's not always easy to describe..."

"But you know it when you see it, yes?"

He lowered his head stubbornly.
"Yes."

The Force is likewise similar to alignment, but both alignment and The Force deal with something much closer to the human heart than morality. If we do want to talk morality for a second, I think where people get hung up on is the idea of culpability, and whether or not it can be diminished. The problem one can run into with intent is that it can be used to justify anything. So long as you think something's one way, and you act accordingly, you can do whatever, so long as your heart's in the right place, it doesn't matter the damage you do. If, intent is the overriding barometer.

In the words of Nietzsche, "You say it's the good cause that hallows any war, I say it's the good war that hallows any cause." The idea of the good cause has been used to justify horrific atrocities for centuries and centuries of documented history.
YagamiFire:

You're talking about two separate acts.
If "Bad Guy Bob" lied to "Good Guy Greg" about "Innocent Ivy", making Good Guy Greg think Ivy was thoroughly evil and therefore Greg kills her, then I'd see it like this:

Bad Guy Bob's act = evil.  He lied with the intent of an innocent dying.
Good Guy Greg = not evil.  He was lied to, and thought Ivy was evil. His motive and intent was to kill a thoroughly evil person, not to kill an innocent.

The result of Ivy dying is indeed bad.  But what makes it Good or Evil?  After all, if a random thunder-storm hit and caused Ivy to die from lightning or drowning, we'd say it was really bad, but not evil... because a storm has no intent or motive or moral agency, it's a random act of nature.  A bad result does not necesitate evil.
However, if Evil Ethan the Wizard cast a spell to make the storm appear in order to kill Ivy, than that would be an evil act.  Same result, different motives/intents.
Even D&D RAW accounts for this.  A bear or wolf might kill and eat an innocent, but they are not classified as evil because they're animals without moral agency, even though the death of the innocent is a very bad thing.

Another Example:
A tavern serves strawberry soup to Sally (which is called "strawberry soup", clearly labelled).  Sally is allergic to stawberries, but the restaurant didn't know that.  Is that an evil act on the restaurant's behalf?  Do you think the restaurant's knowledge (or lack-thereof) of Sally's allergy have any affect on their moral culpability?

Do you view both of these scenarios as equal in moral nature/classification:


  • "Hey, that Sally is deathly allergic to strawberries.... give her some of this soup, it's loaded in stawberries! Muahahaha!" *gives her the soup with an evil smirk, saying "Here's your non-strawberry soup! Nope, no strawberries in there, no-sir-ee!"* Result: Sally eats it and dies.

  • "Here's the strawberry soup, it's a great batch.  I bet she'll enjoy it and have a wonderful day because of it!" *oblivious to Sally's allergy, they give it to her saying "Here's your fresh strawberry soup, miss!"* Result: Sally eats it and dies. 




Those are totally different situations though. The tavern didn't mean to kill someone. The person that killed an innocent DID intend to murder the hell out of them.

That's an evil act. Will it make the person turn evil? No. The act, however, is DEFINITELY evil. An innocent person was murdered in cold blood.

The intent was to kill. The REASON is an entirely different thing from intent...the reason was to get rid of someone evil...but the intent was to kill. Killing an innocent person is an evil act if you intended to kill them.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I'm grateful that you took the time to read, consider, and respond to the ideas in this thread, and I hope your game in some way is more enjoyable because of that. If you like dealing with ideas of morality, I strongly recommend checking out either Palladium's morality system, or World of Darkness' morality system. Either can really be adapted with a minimum of effort, and may be closer to the kind of experience you enjoy than the much less moral-focused alignment system. As someone who has made moderate use of Palladium, and extensive use of World of Darkness, I can say you will probably end up liking both systems quite a bit.



I've played WoD extensively, and I do like Humanity.  I actually hated the other "Paths", as it implied morality was subjective in a game where God and objective morality were part of cannon. Lol.  Anyhow, to continue...


Always enjoy it when someone mentions animals.

((snip))

The Force is likewise similar to alignment, but both alignment and The Force deal with something much closer to the human heart than morality. If we do want to talk morality for a second, I think where people get hung up on is the idea of culpability, and whether or not it can be diminished. The problem one can run into with intent is that it can be used to justify anything. So long as you think something's one way, and you act accordingly, you can do whatever, so long as your heart's in the right place, it doesn't matter the damage you do. If, intent is the overriding barometer.

In the words of Nietzsche, "You say it's the good cause that hallows any war, I say it's the good war that hallows any cause." The idea of the good cause has been used to justify horrific atrocities for centuries and centuries of documented history.



A few things to respond to that:


  • I personally do not think anything is closer to the human heart than morality.  I'm not imposing my view on you about that, just saying your feelings on that are not shared by everyone.

  • Just because people lie to themselves and/or others about their true intent does not change the nature of their true intent.  I don't care about the lies they tell themselves, I care about the truth.  This would be like a Psychotherapist discerning the real feelings/emotions/history that trigger a certain behavior, rather than the lies the patient is telling themselves about it.  My main point on this: If you remove intent and moral culpability, then we need to stop calling it "morals" or "morality", because we're talking about something else entirely.

  • It's much easier to dismiss ideas like justice, righteousness, benevolence and freedom as subjective fancy when we're fat 'n happy 'n safe, taking the philosophical high-road and claiming morality is a bunch'a hog-wash... which is funny since in the next breath, you then give examples of how the idea of morality leads to immoral things, both denying and confirming it in the same breath (see Zaramon's comment on "horrific atrocities" that come about because of the idea of just causes).  Now Zaramon, you are correct that people use moral ideals in inappropriate, manipulative, and harmful ways... which says nothing about the actual validity of moral ideals or moral standards. The very notion that moral ideals can be misused to cause unjust and evil outcomes implies the existance of a moral standard.  Governments and patriotic ideals have led to countless atrocities since the beginning of history... so therefore we ought to be anarchists and never patriotic?

  • To be fair, I think Zaramon plays the devil's advocate often.  Half the time it seems he believes in at least some moral standards, and the other half he seems to think all morality is relative (which is another way of saying it doesn't exist).  But since this is supposed to be a discussion on RAW, I really need to stop posting.... but you guys keep making fun things to talk about! =)

Something can be a horrific atrocity in ways other than moral.

Virtues and moral ideals are not the same thing as a person's intent. A person's intention to perform justice, in the name of justice, can be far and away from what actual justice is. Arguing for intent is actually much closer to a relativist position than anything else. If intent is the barometer, so long as I intend to fulfill the ideal of justice, anything I do in light of that is okay, because my intentions are just. I would think anyone who values ethical studies would pale at the very idea.

Saying that the very notion of using moral ideals to manipulate someone implies there existence is tautalogical, because it presumes that they exist at all. All it requires is that the person manipulated believe in their existence, and the manipulator's construction of their existence.

Do I believe objective moral standards exist? Yes, but I don't feel beholden to them. Especially not when they disagree with my personal tastes.
Something can be a horrific atrocity in ways other than moral.

Virtues and moral ideals are not the same thing as a person's intent. A person's intention to perform justice, in the name of justice, can be far and away from what actual justice is. Arguing for intent is actually much closer to a relativist position than anything else. If intent is the barometer, so long as I intend to fulfill the ideal of justice, anything I do in light of that is okay, because my intentions are just. I would think anyone who values ethical studies would pale at the very idea.

Saying that the very notion of using moral ideals to manipulate someone implies there existence is tautalogical, because it presumes that they exist at all. All it requires is that the person manipulated believe in their existence, and the manipulator's construction of their existence.

Do I believe objective moral standards exist? Yes, but I don't feel beholden to them. Especially not when they disagree with my personal tastes.



Without factoring in intent, we really aren't discussing morality, just how "bad" a certain thing is, which ultimately has little to do with morality.  I do agree that to be good stewards of each other, we ought to not only strive to keep good intent, but also strive to learn what moral objectives exist, and what their nature is.  One without the other is a sock without a foot! So yes, I secede to that point.

In reference to your "tautalogical" statement, you must misunderstand me.  I am responding to the idea that moral ideals are untrue because evil/immoral outcomes result from the use of moral ideals.  This is a silly idea, as it's self-defeating.  If you're arguing against moral ideals, then whether they result in mass genocide or puppies frollicking in a field, you can't refer to that outcome as objectively good or evil, since that requires a moral standard.  You don't need to presume the truth or falsehood of morality to understand that such a statement is nonsensical, since it relies on a premise that requires the existance of what the statement is trying to disprove in the first place.

We disagree on a few things, and given the thread's subject being D&D RAW alignment, I'll just leave it at that.   Nice discussion! =)
In response to the questions of "Would a Lawful Good character do X".  I think the most important thing is why they did it.

Example: "Would a Lawful Good character kill an innocent person?"  It seems like it'd be "No," but what if they did it because they thought the innocent person was the BBEG who's been killing entire villages?  In that case, it's perfectly in-line with LG principles, even if the character was wrong in who he thought the person was.



Butchering an innocent is still an evil act by RAW.



If the killing of an innocent when you honestly thought he was a Hitler-esque bad guy is still evil by RAW, then I'm simply flabbergastered.
Personally, I think you're wrong (with all due respect to you, and the understanding that I'm often wrong when I think I'm right, yet still harbor opinions nonetheless).  Results do not define good/evil, intent does.


That's not entirely true.  Intentional murder of an innocent is an evil act, even if it was misguided.  To wit: If a paladin, intentionally, and of her own free will, cut down an innocent (even if someone lied to her or she was otherwise mistaken), she would lose her powers.  It's an evil act.
Intent can factor in, but it does not negate the results.

What you said would be on-par with saying: "If performing action "X" results in the bad-guy walking free to continue doing bad things, then it was an evil action." The result (bad guy going on to do bad stuff) is indeed bad, but the intent and motives of action "X" is what's important, not the result. 

So... Trying to stop the bad guy, but failing, is evil because the result was letting the bad-guy go free to continue doing bad stuff?... the same result as freely choosing to let the bad-guy go free, or even aiding him.  This doesn't fit RAW whatsoever.


That's not true, either.
You should read page 6 of the 3e Book of Vile Darkness.  The example there is of a paladin climbing a cliff, which results in a rockslide that kills several innocents.  The example goes on to highlight how intent can factor in to the determination of an evil act.
The short version is: The actual action itself (i.e. the results) are primarily the determining factor, but intent can factor in to a degree.

A Lawful Good paladin walks into a room.  There's a big button in the room that says "press this button to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, harbor beneficial world-peace, and have all of this done in a benevolent, compassionate, loving manner". His entire life, since his training in the Holy Order as a child, to all of his quests and studies, all his prayers and inner-reflection, have all lead him to believe this button does exactly what it says it does.  He also thinks he'll die after pressing the button, and there will never be anyone to tell his tale after; he truly wants to press it for altruistic reasons.  He walks up and presses it....
... Oh noes!  It was an elegantly designed, decades-long con organized by evil mastermind gods!  The button makes innocent babies spontaneously combust!  THE PALADIN IS NOW EVIL!  ....... really?


First of all, one act does not change one's alignment.  Secondly, while the results were regrettable and the paladin is probably CONSUMED with guilt, it was not an evil act on the part of the paladin, but rather the person who set up said machine.
The paladin doesn't even lose her powers.  The PHB says "A paladin must be of lawful godd alignment and loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act".  All the paladin did was push a button, she did not willingly obliterate those children.  The difference between this and the "killing someone she was lied to about" example is that in that example, the paladin chose to kill that person (who was, after all, an innocent).



I'm not saying intent doesn't factor in, but you can bet it's secondary. I had this argument with someone in another thread for quite a while. He still thinks it's intent over act.


To that person, you should quote page 6 of the 3e Book of Vile Darkness, the section under "Intent and Context".  I suggest posting the entire thing.  Said poster has a tendancy to be dense and will twist anything you post out of context.


Results are likewise secondary. Results or intent are both secondary to what was done, specifically.


This.



All I can say is, I'm extraordinarily glad I don't play RAW alignment/morality.  How... boring!

I still think a case can be met that intent is a part of RAW.  For example, when a party of PCs runs into band of orcs and slays them, it's Good.  When a roving band of chaotic evil demons runs into that same band of orcs, they slay them, it's Evil.  No, the chaotic evil kill-and-eat-everything demons were not performing a Good act.  The same exact act can be Good or Evil, depending on intent, even in RAW.


Ummm...was the party looking for the orcs, who were a band that had been marauding nearby settlements?  Then it's Good.
Was this just a random group of orcs?  If so, did the orcs attack first and the PCs defended themselves?  That's morally Neutral.
Did the random group of orcs attempt to avoid conflict by holding their arms up and attempt to talk the PCs out of killing them?  Then killing the orcs is Evil.
Demons kill everything that crosses their path, because they relish in slaughter and pain.  The morality of who they are killing becomes secondary, because they are beings literally composed of evil and chaotic energies.
 
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />If the killing of an innocent when you honestly thought he was a Hitler-esque bad guy is still evil by RAW, then I'm simply flabbergastered.
Personally, I think you're wrong (with all due respect to you, and the understanding that I'm often wrong when I think I'm right, yet still harbor opinions nonetheless).  Results do not define good/evil, intent does.



Wait...as a question to clarify this...if someone lied to someone else and convinced them that a third person was very evil...then that person went and, based on the information they had, killed a totally innocent person (the third person the lie is about)...that isn't an evil act?


Yes.  Because the murderer still chose to kill the person, of their own free will.  A Good person will likely feel guilty when they find out they made such a mistake.
YagamiFire:

You're talking about two separate acts.
If "Bad Guy Bob" lied to "Good Guy Greg" about "Innocent Ivy", making Good Guy Greg think Ivy was thoroughly evil and therefore Greg kills her, then I'd see it like this:

Bad Guy Bob's act = evil.  He lied with the intent of an innocent dying.
Good Guy Greg = not evil.  He was lied to, and thought Ivy was evil. His motive and intent was to kill a thoroughly evil person, not to kill an innocent.

The result of Ivy dying is indeed bad.  But what makes it Good or Evil?  After all, if a random thunder-storm hit and caused Ivy to die from lightning or drowning, we'd say it was really bad, but not evil... because a storm has no intent or motive or moral agency, it's a random act of nature.  A bad result does not necesitate evil.
However, if Evil Ethan the Wizard cast a spell to make the storm appear in order to kill Ivy, than that would be an evil act.  Same result, different motives/intents.
Even D&D RAW accounts for this.  A bear or wolf might kill and eat an innocent, but they are not classified as evil because they're animals without moral agency, even though the death of the innocent is a very bad thing.


Both acts are evil, though Bob's act is more heinous and severe because it was intentional.  Bob assumes some of the moral guilt for Ivy's mudrder on his own soul, since, although he did not swing the sword that killed her, he directed it.  If Good Guy Greg was a paladin, he just lost his powers.  He'd still be LG, and would likely immediately seek atonement, as well as redemption (perhaps paying to have Ivy raised).

Another Example:
A tavern serves strawberry soup to Sally (which is called "strawberry soup", clearly labelled).  Sally is allergic to stawberries, but the restaurant didn't know that.  Is that an evil act on the restaurant's behalf?  Do you think the restaurant's knowledge (or lack-thereof) of Sally's allergy have any affect on their moral culpability?

Do you view both of these scenarios as equal in moral nature/classification:


  • "Hey, that Sally is deathly allergic to strawberries.... give her some of this soup, it's loaded in stawberries! Muahahaha!" *gives her the soup with an evil smirk, saying "Here's your non-strawberry soup! Nope, no strawberries in there, no-sir-ee!"* Result: Sally eats it and dies.

  • "Here's the strawberry soup, it's a great batch.  I bet she'll enjoy it and have a wonderful day because of it!" *oblivious to Sally's allergy, they give it to her saying "Here's your fresh strawberry soup, miss!"* Result: Sally eats it and dies. 



The difference between this, and your "Bob, Greg and Ivy" example is that this is two completely different actions.
The first is an intentional murder.  The second is a completely morally-neutral act of serving someone their food, just with an unfortunate consequence.  While the person who served it to her is responsible for her death, it was not an evil act.
Again, I point you to page 6 of the 3e Book of Vile Darkness.




  • Now Zaramon, you are correct that people use moral ideals in inappropriate, manipulative, and harmful ways... which says nothing about the actual validity of moral ideals or moral standards. The very notion that moral ideals can be misused to cause unjust and evil outcomes implies the existance of a moral standard.  Governments and patriotic ideals have led to countless atrocities since the beginning of history... so therefore we ought to be anarchists and never patriotic?



Of course not, but real-world morality is not subject to an objective moral Good/Evil scale like D&D is.
As proof, I point you to Judeao-Christian moral teachings.  The 5th Commandment (using Augustinian division) is frequently misquoted as "thou shalt not kill".  When it is, in fact "thou shalt not commit murder".  The distinction is that not all killing is murder.  Theologians have uncovered any number of ways of killing that do not construe murder.  judeo-Christian religions do not (generally) promote disloyalty to one's nation, even if one's government is secular.  As a citizen, you may be asked to kill another in a wartime situation.  This is not murder.  Want proof?  What did the Hebrews do after being led out of Egypt?  Answer: they re-took the land of Canaan in a bloody and violent conflict, after being given the 10 commandments.
Governments also reserve the moral right to execute criminals.  The executioner, like the soldier, is simply performing civic duty and submitting to his/her secular authority.  Some people object to the death sentence on a human rights basis.  But from a strict understanding of Judeo-Christian based morality, it is not murder, and therefore, not a carnal sin.
Killing in self-defense?  Also not murder.  Defense of another gets iffy, and usually specifically requires the other person's life to be in actual jepordy.  Killing a guy pointing a gun at your family...ok.
The real world is subject to all kinds of moral gray areas.  Civilian casualties in war are not murder, but there is a fine line that must be drawn before one starts commiting war crimes.
D&D has an objective moral scale by which things can be judged.


But I digress =P  I like talking about morality, but this thread is really about RAW alignment, which just isn't all that interesting to me, so I admit I'm not as learned in the subject as most.  My original post in here was based on my misunderstanding of this thread not being only about RAW... I've stuck around because you guys have made interesting posts I've really liked, and just had to reply to! =P


 


  • To be fair, I think Zaramon plays the devil's advocate often.  Half the time it seems he believes in at least some moral standards, and the other half he seems to think all morality is relative (which is another way of saying it doesn't exist).  But since this is supposed to be a discussion on RAW, I really need to stop posting.... but you guys keep making fun things to talk about! =)




No problem.  We enjoy it at least as much!
Without factoring in intent, we really aren't discussing morality, just how "bad" a certain thing is, which ultimately has little to do with morality.

 

Well, you can discuss morality without touching upon intent.

In reference to your "tautalogical" statement, you must misunderstand me.  I am responding to the idea that moral ideals are untrue because evil/immoral outcomes result from the use of moral ideals.  This is a silly idea, as it's self-defeating.



I don't ever remember fielding that statement.

If you're arguing against moral ideals, then whether they result in mass genocide or puppies frollicking in a field, you can't refer to that outcome as objectively good or evil, since that requires a moral standard.  You don't need to presume the truth or falsehood of morality to understand that such a statement is nonsensical, since it relies on a premise that requires the existance of what the statement is trying to disprove in the first place.



Let me clarify. All I was saying, is that morality doesn't need to actually exist for people to buy into it. So long as they believe, for whatever reason, what someone tells them about it, they will act accordingly, regardless of what is true. I also said that just because people believe that there is objective moral standards, it doesn't necessarily imply that there is in fact any objective moral standards. Saying that a person's belief in objective morality implies objective morality is tuatalogical, because it automatically assumes a premise to be true in the first place.
My thoughts on morality and alignment.

I am very much in favor of alignment.  I feel it adds more to the game than it takes away.  I was very upset at the alignment changes in 4e, and I had my reasons for that.  My take on it was essentially, instead of having a range of choices for alignment, to perfectly define your character, you were left with three.  Good, really good, or don't care.  The rule then went on to state "it doesn't matter which one you pick, anyway."  I seem to vaguely recall debating this here at length in the past, I can't remember what all was said except there were a lot of people who were emphatically glad that alignment was neutered.  I probably gave up in frustration.

As the OP demonstrated, the rulebooks clearly explained what alignment was intended as, and not intended as.  It was not a ruleset for your character.  It was not a means of controlling your actions.  It was not a predefined set of actions you were required to choose from (that would be 4e powers, not alignment).  Most of all, it was never, and should never, be a means of limiting creativity or role play.  Actually, to me, not being able to define a character's action within their alignment is a failure in creativity...it is as though you are saying you are walled in by a concept.  Alignment does make you consider your motivations, it does not prevent you from doing anything.  So when I hear someone complain that they are upset that a lawful good character can't murder an NPC in cold blood, I realize two things.  They are mistaken about what alignment does, and they don't understand their own character. 

I look at alignment as a set of personal philosophies that describe a character.  It is a complex world, with complex characters, but most people overall fall into these categories.  It is based on action and intent, so a bumbling idiot who causes the death of his allies, while intended to aid them, can be a good character, despite the evil done by his actions.  So a character who cherishes life will aim for good, and a character who desires structure will follow law, and other philosophies fall in line accordingly.  A character, when defined, needs to be consistent with themselves.  A paladin will not commit armed robbery, then go save a damsel in distress.  Why?  Because in creating a paladin, the player made a choice about the character.  I always encourage players to refine their characters over time, but you can't go in and just make a character what you need for the moment.  Alignment isn't limiting here, because should the paladin decide armed robbery is fun and acceptable, you would simply strike the lawful part off his sheet.  You would have to deal with realistic in-game consequences, of course.  Resisting the idea of consequences or the weight of character actions is rejecting the entire role-playing premise of D&D.

With morality, that is a tough subject, and easy to over-analyze.  There is an idea I consider functional morality, which is harder to explain away.  Maybe swearing is culturally offensive, but not necessarily immortal.  Saying a forbidden word in private is hardly an evil act.  In every culture, there are common morals, that exist without a need for justification.  Some examples of immoral acts:

*Murder
*Theft
*Deception with consequences
*Unwarranted assault
*Intentional offense of another person
*Breaking a promise

Those ideas are fairly universal, and make up a strong moral code, in any setting.  With alignment, there are two thing to consider.  You can think of it as societal law and natural law.  For societal law, there are actions that are deemed detrimental to the society.  These are actions that damage the structure of the civilization.  These are essentially laws, edicts, and social norms.  A law/chaos alignment refers to the acceptance of these laws.  Someone working for law wants to ensure the interests of society are maintained, within their worldview.  Insurrection is discouraged, unless it is a response to a violation of previous laws, in which the action would be considered defending that societal law.  A knight fighting for his homeland on the battlefield is lawful, he wishes to preserve his kingdom.  An evil wizard using machinations within the law to come to power, and control the people is also lawful.  Both recognize the importance of society and the existing laws.  The laws do not have to be moral in anyway, they simply need structure. 

Good, on the other hand, is easier to understand in D&D terms.  The natural actions/inactions that benefit first the world, then the society, then the group, finally the person.  Good is defined by personal morality, however the game should only be interested in the common, functional morality, then as an afterthought, a character's personal convictions.  A hardened paladin may be known to be completely honest, yet when cornered by an enemy and asked sensitive information, he might lie.  Lying by itself is a minor act, and the paladin may be altruistic in doing it.  This is not a violation of their good alignment, because it is not an entirely evil act.  Had the paladin taken a vow to their deity not to lie (going into Exalted Deeds territory now), it would be an evil act.  If they were part of a society that outlawed dishonesty, it would be a chaotic act. 

The player always can act against their alignment.  An evil character may spare or assist a wounded hero.  Characters can be complex and interesting, and finding their motivations for unusual acts is always intriguing.  Should a character abandon their alignment, which is up to the DM to decide, it is reasonable to change alignment.  For some characters, this is no big deal, for others, it can be devastating...but a great source of RP material. 

In stripping alignment, everything I described would be lost.  I find it interesting and noteworthy enough a mechanic to write a long essay about it, I feel it adds so much to the game, that I mourn its exclusion.  The rules in games like this exist for a reason, without them you are just playing cops and robbers with dice.  The rules are also forgiving and flexible, when used right (and if they are not, you need to talk to your DM or find a new group). 

And I will second the notion that the "kill the child or the world will end" dilemma is just bad DMing (and in no way was it adequate to make the point it was intended to make).  Should that situation arise, however, the moral action would be to let the world end with its morality and dignity intact.  It is the job of the DM to make sure the game is fun and accessible to players (not necessarily spoon-fed, though).  Do not actively punish a character for existing.
From a Western-cultural standpoint, Lawful Good is LESS good than Good, not more. Lawful Good is an archetypal pre-enlightenment viewpoint, valuable for those wishing to emulate medieval social mores but considered with suspicion at best and routinely lambasted as backwards and evil in real life.

Also, anyone who thinks 9-point was able to "perfectly define" a character apparently started AND finished their philosophical education by skimming the PHB, and did a shoddy job of even that.

What I'd like to talk about here is actual facts regarding alignment. What alignment really is, and what it is not.




Alignement is a descriptive tool one can use to give their character a little axtra flavor if so inclined. How has this thread gotten to 4 pages?

Although, if those in favor of alignment based restrictions would like an explanation of why they're wrong, consider the following: Say you make a fey pact warlock, who you enjoy playuing so much you decide to build a similar character the next time you join a campaign. But in this campaign you find out on the third session that lurkers will automatically bring warlocks to 0 hit points with any attack that connects because both of them are used to lurking in the shadows, so lurkers have a tactical advantage. That's basically what happens when you try to make alignment have a mechanical impact.
Thanks to Long_Con for the avatar.
River Guide
56756068 wrote:
58147568 wrote:
121816979 wrote:
56819178 wrote:
147112461 wrote:
Hi everyone,I have two questions. 1. If my opponent already controlled a planewalker , then he cast avacyn,angle of hope ,and resolved on battlefield.Now his planewalker in indestructible right?
[c]Avacyn, Angel of Hope[/c] -> Avacyn, Angel of Hope
No need to be so obtuse, maybe he's just trying to complement her. That's not too radical of a concept, I mean she is pretty acute, right?.
This right here should be a bannable offense :p
No, not an outright banning, that's too easy. He should be punished ... ... by degrees.
My thoughts on morality and alignment.

I am very much in favor of alignment.  I feel it adds more to the game than it takes away.  I was very upset at the alignment changes in 4e, and I had my reasons for that.  My take on it was essentially, instead of having a range of choices for alignment, to perfectly define your character, you were left with three.  Good, really good, or don't care.  The rule then went on to state "it doesn't matter which one you pick, anyway."  I seem to vaguely recall debating this here at length in the past, I can't remember what all was said except there were a lot of people who were emphatically glad that alignment was neutered.  I probably gave up in frustration.

As the OP demonstrated, the rulebooks clearly explained what alignment was intended as, and not intended as.  It was not a ruleset for your character.  It was not a means of controlling your actions.  It was not a predefined set of actions you were required to choose from (that would be 4e powers, not alignment).  Most of all, it was never, and should never, be a means of limiting creativity or role play.  Actually, to me, not being able to define a character's action within their alignment is a failure in creativity...it is as though you are saying you are walled in by a concept.  Alignment does make you consider your motivations, it does not prevent you from doing anything.  So when I hear someone complain that they are upset that a lawful good character can't murder an NPC in cold blood, I realize two things.  They are mistaken about what alignment does, and they don't understand their own character. 

I look at alignment as a set of personal philosophies that describe a character.  It is a complex world, with complex characters, but most people overall fall into these categories.  It is based on action and intent, so a bumbling idiot who causes the death of his allies, while intended to aid them, can be a good character, despite the evil done by his actions.  So a character who cherishes life will aim for good, and a character who desires structure will follow law, and other philosophies fall in line accordingly.  A character, when defined, needs to be consistent with themselves.  A paladin will not commit armed robbery, then go save a damsel in distress.  Why?  Because in creating a paladin, the player made a choice about the character.  I always encourage players to refine their characters over time, but you can't go in and just make a character what you need for the moment.  Alignment isn't limiting here, because should the paladin decide armed robbery is fun and acceptable, you would simply strike the lawful part off his sheet.  You would have to deal with realistic in-game consequences, of course.  Resisting the idea of consequences or the weight of character actions is rejecting the entire role-playing premise of D&D.

With morality, that is a tough subject, and easy to over-analyze.  There is an idea I consider functional morality, which is harder to explain away.  Maybe swearing is culturally offensive, but not necessarily immortal.  Saying a forbidden word in private is hardly an evil act.  In every culture, there are common morals, that exist without a need for justification.  Some examples of immoral acts:

*Murder
*Theft
*Deception with consequences
*Unwarranted assault
*Intentional offense of another person
*Breaking a promise

Those ideas are fairly universal, and make up a strong moral code, in any setting.  With alignment, there are two thing to consider.  You can think of it as societal law and natural law.  For societal law, there are actions that are deemed detrimental to the society.  These are actions that damage the structure of the civilization.  These are essentially laws, edicts, and social norms.  A law/chaos alignment refers to the acceptance of these laws.  Someone working for law wants to ensure the interests of society are maintained, within their worldview.  Insurrection is discouraged, unless it is a response to a violation of previous laws, in which the action would be considered defending that societal law.  A knight fighting for his homeland on the battlefield is lawful, he wishes to preserve his kingdom.  An evil wizard using machinations within the law to come to power, and control the people is also lawful.  Both recognize the importance of society and the existing laws.  The laws do not have to be moral in anyway, they simply need structure. 

Good, on the other hand, is easier to understand in D&D terms.  The natural actions/inactions that benefit first the world, then the society, then the group, finally the person.  Good is defined by personal morality, however the game should only be interested in the common, functional morality, then as an afterthought, a character's personal convictions.  A hardened paladin may be known to be completely honest, yet when cornered by an enemy and asked sensitive information, he might lie.  Lying by itself is a minor act, and the paladin may be altruistic in doing it.  This is not a violation of their good alignment, because it is not an entirely evil act.  Had the paladin taken a vow to their deity not to lie (going into Exalted Deeds territory now), it would be an evil act.  If they were part of a society that outlawed dishonesty, it would be a chaotic act. 

The player always can act against their alignment.  An evil character may spare or assist a wounded hero.  Characters can be complex and interesting, and finding their motivations for unusual acts is always intriguing.  Should a character abandon their alignment, which is up to the DM to decide, it is reasonable to change alignment.  For some characters, this is no big deal, for others, it can be devastating...but a great source of RP material. 

In stripping alignment, everything I described would be lost.  I find it interesting and noteworthy enough a mechanic to write a long essay about it, I feel it adds so much to the game, that I mourn its exclusion.  The rules in games like this exist for a reason, without them you are just playing cops and robbers with dice.  The rules are also forgiving and flexible, when used right (and if they are not, you need to talk to your DM or find a new group). 

And I will second the notion that the "kill the child or the world will end" dilemma is just bad DMing (and in no way was it adequate to make the point it was intended to make).  Should that situation arise, however, the moral action would be to let the world end with its morality and dignity intact.  It is the job of the DM to make sure the game is fun and accessible to players (not necessarily spoon-fed, though).  Do not actively punish a character for existing.



An excellent post. I expect you to be attacked in no time.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

From a Western-cultural standpoint, Lawful Good is LESS good than Good, not more. Lawful Good is an archetypal pre-enlightenment viewpoint, valuable for those wishing to emulate medieval social mores but considered with suspicion at best and routinely lambasted as backwards and evil in real life.

Also, anyone who thinks 9-point was able to "perfectly define" a character apparently started AND finished their philosophical education by skimming the PHB, and did a shoddy job of even that.



Wow that attack didn't take long.

Anyone who thinks a character always has to act within their alignment doesn't understand alignment or human nature. This has already been addressed though so it's just repeating what's been said.

Your misunderstanding of Lawful Good, however, is very telling. I think it points to a major mental stumbling block regarding alignment (IE that "Good" can be Evil when that is definitely not true).

Lawful Good is not LESS Good than Good. It just has a different POV in how good can be achieved. It has a different focus. It has nothing to do with a pre-englihtenment view point or medieval society.

Batman is Lawful Good, Superman is Neutral Good. Neither is more or less Good than the other. Just different.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

My thoughts on morality and alignment...

...Do not actively punish a character for existing.



An excellent post. I expect you to be attacked in no time.


I will endeavor to lead the assault! 

Ummmm... stop telling me to do stuff I don't want to do.  You're bad... but not "Bad" in the sense of Evil Badness (or even Bad Evilness), because that would be like using alignment... which is bad, but not "Bad" in the sense of Evil Badness (or even Bad Evilness), because...
My thoughts on morality and alignment...

...Do not actively punish a character for existing.



An excellent post. I expect you to be attacked in no time.


I will endeavor to lead the assault! 

Ummmm... stop telling me to do stuff I don't want to do.  You're bad... but not "Bad" in the sense of Evil Badness (or even Bad Evilness), because that would be like using alignment... which is bad, but not "Bad" in the sense of Evil Badness (or even Bad Evilness), because...



Ooh I award you bonus points for being self-contradictory and barely sensible!

Also, pony Batman avatar is hilarious.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Ooh I award you bonus points for being self-contradictory and barely sensible!


Thank you. I felt it was important to remain true to the spirit of the anti-alignment argument...
Ooh I award you bonus points for being self-contradictory and barely sensible!


Thank you. I felt it was important to remain true to the spirit of the anti-alignment argument...



Wait...true to the spirit of something?! That's almost like ALIGNING with something! No! NO! IT BURNS! That's impossible in real life! NOOOO!

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Ooh I award you bonus points for being self-contradictory and barely sensible!


Thank you. I felt it was important to remain true to the spirit of the anti-alignment argument...



Well that's hardly condescending at all.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein