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azalinthegreat
2008-05-21, 10:29 PM
Hey guys, Iíve been DMing for a little while and Iíve run into something that I think is a real problem. In my campaigns, I donít allow evil characters, just because I think they will end up killing each other and making the game unfun very quickly. However, some of the players just end up playing chaotic neutral characters, or just plain neutral, and they tend to think that this will just let them act evil.

This is a problem, but more importantly I think that the neutral alignment has become very much overpowered. Players who use it donít take much damage from spells that are alignment specific like Dictum or similar magic, and can do terrible things undetected by a good deal of divination magic. Does anyone have any homebrew monsters or spells that could help me with this? Thanks a lot.

Lady Tialait
2008-05-21, 10:47 PM
Alignment in general annoys me. But, if they are being evil and calling it Chaotic Neutral, then they are using Bad Role playing. And that is a bad thing. Your only real thing is to give role play experience to those who keep with the alignment they have. I always do this. It's a bad thing, but it works. As for Homebrew that hurts neutrality. Here Enjoy

Disheartening
Evocation [Netural, Sonic]
Level: Clr 7,
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 40 ft.
Area: Non-Netural creatures in a 40-ft.-radius spread centered on you
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None or Will negates; see text
Spell Resistance: Yes

Any nonNetural creature within the area of a disheartening spell suffers the following ill effects.
HD Effect
Equal to caster level Deafened
Up to caster level -1 Slowed, deafened
Up to caster level -5 Paralyzed, slowed, deafened
Up to caster level -10 Killed, paralyzed, slowed, deafened

The effects are cumulative and concurrent. No saving throw is allowed against these effects.
Deafened

The creature is deafened for 1d4 rounds.
Slowed

The creature is slowed, as by the slow spell, for 2d4 rounds.
Paralyzed

The creature is paralyzed and helpless for 1d10 minutes.
Killed

Living creatures die. Undead creatures are destroyed.

Furthermore, if you are on your home plane when you cast this spell, nonnetural extraplanar creatures within the area are instantly banished back to their home planes. Creatures so banished cannot return for at least 24 hours. This effect takes place regardless of whether the creatures hear the disheartening. The banishment effect allows a Will save (at a -4 penalty) to negate.

Creatures whose HD exceed your caster level are unaffected by disheartening.


Commitment
Evocation [Lawful,Good,Evil, Chaotic, Sonic]
Level: Clr 7,
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 40 ft.
Area: Netural creatures in a 40-ft.-radius spread centered on you
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None or Will negates; see text
Spell Resistance: Yes

Any Netural creature within the area of a commitment spell suffers the following ill effects.
HD Effect
Equal to caster level Deafened
Up to caster level -1 Slowed, deafened
Up to caster level -5 Paralyzed, slowed, deafened
Up to caster level -10 Killed, paralyzed, slowed, deafened

The effects are cumulative and concurrent. No saving throw is allowed against these effects.
Deafened

The creature is deafened for 1d4 rounds.
Slowed

The creature is slowed, as by the slow spell, for 2d4 rounds.
Paralyzed

The creature is paralyzed and helpless for 1d10 minutes.
Killed

Living creatures die. Undead creatures are destroyed.

Furthermore, if you are on your home plane when you cast this spell, netural extraplanar creatures within the area are instantly banished back to their home planes. Creatures so banished cannot return for at least 24 hours. This effect takes place regardless of whether the creatures hear the commitment. The banishment effect allows a Will save (at a -4 penalty) to negate.

Creatures whose HD exceed your caster level are unaffected by commitment.



Not really that balanced, but I do stuff like that all the time.

bahamut920
2008-05-22, 12:47 AM
Well, if your players are playing neutral to try to get away with the things you specifically prohibited them from being evil to stop the from doing, they have just proven you justified in banning evil, I'd say.
While I'd never advocate banning neutrality as well (that just plain limits the choices of the PCs too much for my taste), there are still plenty of tools for you as DM to use to control your players. First of all, you might give them less treasure as rewards from NPCs (they don't trust the characters as much any more now that the PCs are showing dishonest and selfish personalities). You might consider having the offending PCs continually challenged by the forces of Good in an effort to stop their evil ways. You could assign penalties such as XP penalties to the characters, as they are acting "out of line with their heroic intentions."
And of course, if they still don't stop, change their alignment to evil, then say they break with the party and strike out on their own (as NPCs), perhaps to menace the party later. After losing a character or two - and possibly having to fight those characters later in the story - they'll be much more interested in adhering to your standards for the campaign.

Tequila Sunrise
2008-05-22, 12:55 AM
If their characters are acting evil, then their characters are evil regardless of what is written on their character sheets. I suggest pointing this out to them along with a warning that if their characters don't shape up they'll become NPCs. If they don't shape up noticably in a session or two, take their character sheets and tell them to make new characters.

If this is a problem with all your players, consider running an evil campaign or telling them that they can choose a new DM if they want to be evil.

TS

TheOOB
2008-05-22, 01:03 AM
A couple of things. The DM picks the alignment, not the players. Alignment in D&D is objective, you don't choose what alignment you are, your actions determine it.

Second, neutral people don't have it as good as you think. They usually take half damage from all alignment based magic(and some magic still deals full to them).

Third, evil characters are not game breaking, even in a good game. You can be evil without raping and pillaging, heck you can still even be evil and get along with good people. You just are willing to go a bit further to acchieve your goals then they are. That can actually create a very interesting party dynamic.

Moral Wiz
2008-05-22, 01:11 AM
I echo everyone above. Using neutral alignment to justify committing evil acts doesn't work.

Any character, irrespective of alignment can comitt evil acts. Good characters should be more ashamed of them than neutral ones, but both should be sorry. Otherwise, alignment shift beckons.

CN characters shouldn't interfere with others, letting them live their lives themselves. How do your players justify doing evil with CN? Barbarian horde?

TheOOB
2008-05-22, 01:32 AM
Good characters should be more ashamed of them than neutral ones, but both should be sorry. Otherwise, alignment shift beckons.

CN characters shouldn't interfere with others, letting them live their lives themselves. How do your players justify doing evil with CN? Barbarian horde?


Thats not entirely correct. Remember, alignment is objective and not subjective. How you feel about what you do has no barring on alignment.

Also, CN doesn't mean what you think it means, those are character traits, not alignment traits. A neutral person won't risk it all to help others, but doesn't hurt others either. A chaotic person just doesn't care as much about long term and wide scale reprecussions and tradition.

Moral Wiz
2008-05-22, 01:43 AM
Right. But killing people with no motive is not a CN trait

Cheesegear
2008-05-22, 02:25 AM
Being evil doesn't mean 'kill everyone you see'. Hell, not even Chaotic Evil means that. It's very easy to stop that sort of behaviour though.
DM: Oh, you want to kill a peasant do you? Well, the local Archmage of Awesome has had just about enough of that sort of thing, he teleports in and kills you. No save.

I tend to ban - or at least discourage - people from being neutral in alignment. Because it's just as you said Magic Circle Against Neutrality doesn't really have the same ring to it.

Evil != Killing Everything. I think you should re-think your ban on Evil, as it opens up a lot of RPing oppurtunities, and also opens up some more characters/classes that might be fun for your players to make.

Kizara
2008-05-22, 04:12 AM
Being evil doesn't mean 'kill everyone you see'. Hell, not even Chaotic Evil means that. It's very easy to stop that sort of behaviour though.
DM: Oh, you want to kill a peasant do you? Well, the local Archmage of Awesome has had just about enough of that sort of thing, he teleports in and kills you. No save.

I tend to ban - or at least discourage - people from being neutral in alignment. Because it's just as you said Magic Circle Against Neutrality doesn't really have the same ring to it.

Evil != Killing Everything. I think you should re-think your ban on Evil, as it opens up a lot of RPing oppurtunities, and also opens up some more characters/classes that might be fun for your players to make.


I would agree with you if his players have not already demonstrated a lack of maturity in even playing neutral alignments.

The context of the situation is important.

boomwolf
2008-05-22, 06:08 AM
If they were evil they would have acted the same, jest without saying "its neutral so its ok."

Besides-you should not ban alignments. all should be possible to work as a team, even though it makes some cuts between them. its party of the fun in DnD-people who are from opposite alignments might team up in order to serve the interests of all of them. even thought they would probably fight each other under different conditions. (for example at a run of "world's largest dungeon" I was a LE knight that often made fun of our CG barbarian, but they still worked as a team, until the game stopped running at least.(internet games often fall apart...thats sad...))

Besides-best evil don't do "kill everyone." best evil does "Kill whoever it pays off to kill." and face it-most people don't worth the effort. and thats without talking about the attention it will draw from law-enforcement.

Cheesegear
2008-05-22, 07:34 AM
I would agree with you if his players have not already demonstrated a lack of maturity...

Oh, right. Then there's really nothing that can be done about it then. If the players' are already being 'immature' about being Evil, then chances are they're already pushing the limits of the Neutral alignment. Pushing CN to it's absolute breaking point (probably past it, had the OP not banned 'Evil').

Neutral does not mean you can be 'less good'. It means exactly that. Not evil or good. Which is why I find it so hard to keep control of. Hence why I tend to discourage it...But, there's always got to be one person who wants to play a Druid.
"Hey, I saved someone, therefore, I have to kill someone to even it out." is not the way to keep a Neutral alignment.

I don't know how to handle it. The best way is easy. Fiat. Fiat and then Fiat some more. Change your spells to something like Magic Circle Against Adventurers and just let the monster/NPC have +2 AC vs. anything that wants to hurt him. Neutral or not.

Which is the way I tend to play alignment-based spells. I have house-ruled that it's all Protection from Alignment Different From The Caster's except in special circumstances like a Pally's Smite Evil attack where it is a pretty distinct class ability. DM's discretion.

bahamut920
2008-05-22, 12:30 PM
No, no, Cheesegear. There's no need to pump up monsters and NPCs pointlessly just to keep the PCs from killing them. There's always somebody more powerful than the PCs willing to stop such nonsense. Besides, the OP never said that the players were slaying random townsfolk.


Hey guys, Iíve been DMing for a little while and Iíve run into something that I think is a real problem. In my campaigns, I donít allow evil characters, just because I think they will end up killing each other and making the game unfun very quickly. However, some of the players just end up playing chaotic neutral characters, or just plain neutral, and they tend to think that this will just let them act evil.

As you can see, it's implied that his biggest problem is that the PCs are "killing each other and making the game unfun." They might not be resorting to out-and-out violence yet, but they are possibly doing things like stealing from each other, bickering over every gold piece, et cetera. The easiest solution to that is to have the NPCs hear that there is schism and infighting among the party, and to stop hiring them. I mean, you wouldn't hire a group of people that you knew were not on good terms with each other in real life, would you? NPCs in a D&D game are no different. They want the team they hire to work together well in order to accomplish the job more readily.

As for the problem of neutrality being overpowered, I don't really think so. It's just that the biggest control on the True Neutral alignment is you, the DM. Be strict about the characters maintaining their neutrality. Keep track of how lawful or chaotic, good or evil they're being and shift their alignment accordingly. If they want to keep their neutrality, they'll have to work for it, and constantly be thinking about what they do and how they do it, to make sure it "balances out."

Roderick_BR
2008-05-22, 01:28 PM
The best sollution is to go and tell them their acting is disrupting the game. DMs and players should work together in to make a game, not fight against each other.

As for alignment: Even if you ban alignment rules, they'd be still doing the same thing, only without needing to make up excuses. "There's no alignment anymore, I don't need to hold back what I do because I don't need to prove I'm good or neutral anymore."

Lorien077
2008-05-22, 02:26 PM
I had a really similar problem when I tried DMing. It was a very high concept game, in which the group found themselves facing a great evil, or would have had it lasted more than two sessions. :(
In anycase I banned evil outright, and still had players acting evil. I tried to push them away gently, but it flat out didn't work. The main problem ended up getting herself killed (the problem PC, the player was male) but I have decided that from now on I'll implement (if I ever DM again) this rule:
You act the alignment on your character sheet (or close to it) or your character starts taking "alignment points"
For example: The LG paladin decides to smite a villager to test his new blade. That character gains at least one evil point. Once he has accumulated three evil points his alignment shifts to neutral, three more and it shifts to evil. At which point he becomes an NPC. Point gain or loss is entirely up to DM digression. And you can do this with any alignment axis.
I don't know if its the best ruling though. Opinion?

Flickerdart
2008-05-22, 02:56 PM
Considering that a Paladin that does that would instantly become Fallen, maybe that's a bad example.

Pronounceable
2008-05-22, 03:52 PM
The best sollution is to go and tell them their acting is disrupting the game. DMs and players should work together in to make a game, not fight against each other.

This.

If that proves too difficult for them to grasp, tell them you'll actively penalize them for straying out of their alignments. Hit them where it hurts: XP penalty. It also works to cut random bull**** down during the game.

Cheesegear
2008-05-22, 05:05 PM
The best solution is to go and tell them their acting is disrupting the game. DMs and players should work together in to make a game, not fight against each other.

That's how it should work. I just feel lucky that I, and my usual group of players work like this.
However, that ideal is apparently quite uncommon - or so I hear.

Waspinator
2008-05-22, 06:26 PM
There's two main routes to take (in my opinion):

1: Out of the game, ask them to please stop that kind of stuff because it's ruining the game. If they're not mature enough to listen, maybe they're not the kind of people you want to be playing with.

or

2: Actually use alignments how they are meant: something chosen initially by the player but then by DM discretion. If the player's actions do not match what they chose at the start of the game, then you should change it to match what they are doing. If they're killing people for no reason that can justified as being truly for the greater good, then their alignments should definitely be changed to some kind of evil, with all of the consequences that follow. Period. How can you otherwise keep the game world consistent? A NPC Paladin might arrest some other NPC for stealing/murdering/whatever, but the PCs get a free ride because they're the PCs?

The Law vs Chaos axis is usually a little vaguer and DMs usually shouldn't be quite as strict on that, but if someone is acting evil it is usually pretty obvious.

Draken
2008-05-22, 06:59 PM
My two cents.

First of all, being neutral offers no protection from Dictum, Holy Word, Word of Chaos or Blasphemy. The only way to be immune to *cof*Power Word: Win*cof* is by belonging to the same alignment.

Second, Tialait, the first spell you mentioned, if it affects targets that lack at least one neutral component to their alignments, that spell already exists, it is called Word of Balance, Spell Compendium 3.5, it is also a druid spell.

Third, banning alignments is a terrible option. Tell your players you would prefer not having to deal with this or that alignment, or that they aren't doing it right, but banning anything is a bad option, always.

Lorien, Flickerdart is right. The exemple was horrible. A paladin doing so should lose his/her powers instantly. Unless you are using the variant paladins from Arcana Unhearted, then it might not happen.

As a closing act. I think I know what you need. Taint rules. Your players want to be evil? Ok. Evil acts grant taint, taint has a bad result of killing you if you accumulate to much. You can find the rules on Heroes of Horror.

Flickerdart
2008-05-22, 07:01 PM
Or, go pick up Book of Exalted Deeds. Who'd want to be evil when you can be that much more awesome and Good at once?

Katasi
2008-05-22, 07:31 PM
Sounds like you have some really bad roleplayers.

Also, you said a problem you hae is they do eil things and magic like detect evil and such can't pick up on it... well this is a little off-topic, but diinations like that couldn't pick them up anyway unless they are clerics or dark paladns or undead. magic only picks up on things that are specified as having an aura that pings on it. A Chaotic Evil Human Fighter won't even register as evil to a detect evil spell.

Draken
2008-05-22, 08:02 PM
Sounds like you have some really bad roleplayers.

Also, you said a problem you hae is they do eil things and magic like detect evil and such can't pick up on it... well this is a little off-topic, but diinations like that couldn't pick them up anyway unless they are clerics or dark paladns or undead. magic only picks up on things that are specified as having an aura that pings on it. A Chaotic Evil Human Fighter won't even register as evil to a detect evil spell.

Actually...

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/detectEvil.htm

No. You are incorrect. A normal, human, Something Evil warrior would have an evil aura. It would just be very, very weak.

Edit: I also hope you get that "v" key fixed soon.

azalinthegreat
2008-05-22, 08:30 PM
Hey guys, I like all of these options. Personally, I think that I might go with something like the "alignment points," and take away their characters if they get to evil. And that way, the character can still be important, but not in the party itself.

Thanks a lot for all the help guys!

Lorien077
2008-05-23, 02:21 AM
Okay, sorry for the crummy example (we use variant paladins pretty much always) but aside from that does it work alright?

azalinthegreat
2008-05-23, 07:56 AM
I think it works pretty well. Paladins are really an extream case, but if some other lawful-good guy did that, there would be a problem.

Is there anyway to get rid of "evil" points? It seems like just getting good points wouldn't really do it. After all, if you killed a kid, then gave candy to another, it doesn't really even out in the end.

Cheesegear
2008-05-23, 08:25 AM
Is there anyway to get rid of "evil" points? It seems like just getting good points wouldn't really do it. After all, if you killed a kid, then gave candy to another, it doesn't really even out in the end.

The usual way to do it is to use a sliding scale of Law/Chaos:Good/Evil.

True Neutral is around the 50:50 mark, Lawful Good 100:100, CE 0:0. LE 100:0 and so on. Those are extreme cases. Where 100 is a being of pure-ness, and a 0 is irredeemable, no matter how many atonements are thrown at it.

Using the above example; Killing a child for no reason gives you -25:-25 on the scale. Pretty evil, and 'no reason' is chaotic. Not neutral.
Wheras giving candy to a kid is +0:+4 maybe? It doesn't really hurt the Law/Chaos metre. But giving candy to kids is quite nice. But it's not that much of a deal. Giving candy to every kid in the city might be +0:+20
(Unless there's a law against giving candy to kids...:smallamused:).

This is kind of a rough concept, as it can allow many alignment shifts per day depending on what you do.
Wheras "The DM says your alignment is X now because you did this. No. I don't care how many people you saved, you killed a kid for no reason" is pretty final.

EDIT: 0-35 = Chaotic:Evil
36-64 = Neutral
65-100 = Lawful:Good

bahamut920
2008-05-23, 08:31 AM
Well, "evil points" aren't mandatory, or even written in the rules. It's just an easier way to keep track. Besides, it's up to you to decide what gives a point, and what acts balance it out to take the point away. Although I normally prefer to have, say, 10 or so points before an alignment change, but that may be because I'm a bit more strict about what gives points, especially to good-aligned characters. And I'm happy to say I've never been forced to change a PC's alignment, though one guy in a short-lived campaign I ran came very close (he played his CG vigilante character more like a CN/CE bandit).

two_fishes
2008-05-23, 01:11 PM
I've had this idea in my head for a while to throw out alignments as descriptions of behaviours and use them as descriptions of allegiences. A Lawful character has sworn allegience to the Emperor and the expansion of the Empire. A Chaotic character has sworn to the destruction of the Empire and maybe is opposed to civilised agrarian society as a whole. Or is like an early 19th century anarchist. Likewise with Good/Evil. A Good character does the bidding of some being or organisation that is the very definition of Good and so too with Evil. Neutrality is simply a refusal to explicitly ally oneself with an organization or personality. In all these cases, the characters themselves may not be lawful, chaotic, good, or evil (or neutral, whatever that means) but is a declared (card-carrying) member of a group that is. The group may have expectations of the characters, and consequences of defying those expectations may be expulsion (i.e. they become "neutral") but the Alignment in no way describes the character's actual moral compass.

Somber Requiem
2008-05-23, 01:59 PM
I had one way of handling alignment. Before anyone started making characters I'd do a 1-1 with them and they had to tell me their concept, and I forbade them from using the words 'good', 'evil', 'lawful', or 'chaotic'. I wanted them to come up with their personality first rather than tailoring it to suit. And then, when we were finished I would assign them their allignment. But it helped to make some potential problems into assets. One guy wanted to play a domineering paladin. After we talked he admitted that his character would probably kill some one who disobeyed his orders. Not exactly LG material, yet alone a paladin. And so he created a LE fighter who, while never really in charge, kept every one in line and had everyone more than a little scared of him. Likewise I had a girl who wanted to play a Tifeling CE rogue. Except that the way she was acting and what she planned on playing was really more a drizztesque angsty ooh I'm a Tifeling and everyone hates me... not really some one who went out of her way to kill or corrupt others. So she settled on chaotic emo... I mean chaotic neutral and over the course of the game evolved into CG.

Tequila Sunrise
2008-05-23, 08:51 PM
Is there anyway to get rid of "evil" points? It seems like just getting good points wouldn't really do it. After all, if you killed a kid, then gave candy to another, it doesn't really even out in the end.

To my mind, no, giving one kid candy doesn't make you a better person after having killed another kid. The only way to get rid of "evil points" is to actually regret the evil thing you did and then make an honest attempt to fix it. Now bringing a dead kid back to life might not be a viable option, but a sincere apology and some gp to the kid's family is a start towards redemption at least.

TS

magic_unlocked
2008-05-24, 08:08 AM
What I do in my games is that no starting charcter can be evil. If you want to be evil, you have to work at it. Then, you create interesting party dynamics. It also lets the PC be able to be evil, they just have to be careful about it because the party is usually non-evil. ^_^

bahamut920
2008-05-24, 02:02 PM
The natural extension of that is to start every character as neutral, and determine alignment based upon the actions of the character.

The Necroswanso
2008-05-24, 03:08 PM
That limits classes alot however and is best used with a Level 0 start.

magic_unlocked
2008-05-24, 05:24 PM
That limits classes alot however and is best used with a Level 0 start.

Precisely. It's why I said you couldn't start off with an evil alignment. The base classes are built assuming that the characters are going to be good-aligned. Though, i will bend this if the person has an awesome character concept and is a good RPer.

chiasaur11
2008-05-24, 05:59 PM
To my mind, no, giving one kid candy doesn't make you a better person after having killed another kid. The only way to get rid of "evil points" is to actually regret the evil thing you did and then make an honest attempt to fix it. Now bringing a dead kid back to life might not be a viable option, but a sincere apology and some gp to the kid's family is a start towards redemption at least.

TS

Why couldn't you make a sincere attempt to bring the dead kid back to life?
If raise dead exists, and you're a high level individual, it seems the best option for atonement.

bahamut920
2008-05-24, 11:47 PM
That limits classes alot however and is best used with a Level 0 start.

Well, you just ignore the alignment restrictions at first and judge by whether or not the players are playing their alignment properly.