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    Default Is poison use evil?

    Should poison use be considered evil?

    I've been thinking about it, considering the implications of poison use vs. use of a regular weapon.

    If you kill someone with a weapon, does it matter if it's coated in poison? In this instance, assume you've a 100% certainty in killing this person. Why would it be more evil than simply shanking him (again, assuming you've a 100% certainty of killing him)?

    Is poison use considered evil because of the romanticized notion that only villains use it? An example being Hamlet.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by myancey; 2011-06-14 at 12:57 AM.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    According to the designers, in a fabulously hypocritical chapter of The Book of Exalted Deeds, poison is evil (except for poisons which cause no ability damage and only unconsciousness) because it causes undue suffering. To which I reply, 1) in that same chapter "ravages", which are magical good guy poisons, also cause ability damage; and 2) smashing his face in with my axe causes a lot more suffering than paralyzing him with dex damage, capturing him, and healing him.

    If your DM enjoys logic (or, you the DM enjoy logic) , hopefully poison is not any more automatically evil than spells that cause ability damage (or, you know, stabbing people). But RAW it is...because it just is.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    This is a contentious issue.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    As I recall the given explanation of why stat damaging poison use is evil is that the use of stat damaging poison causes undue suffering or something like that. Those that don't deal ability damage are fine.

    Make of that what you will.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    You see, someone on the Dev team thought that Poison deals damage constantly until the secondary damage kicks in, and that this damage causes incredible pain and suffering.

    They decided that knowingly causing pain and suffering was an Evil act, while completely overlooking the moral standards that DnD sets as a baseline.



    And then they do a 180 and print Ravages and Afflictions.



    In other words, I don't think using poison is Evil, at least by DnD standards. How much suffering can you cause when the only poisons worth using can kill nigh instantly (or could be used with multiple attacks to achieve the same goal)?

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    By raw, poison is evil. Technically, this even includes poisons used against evil creatures, and ravages, which are designed only to affect evil creatures.

    Personally, I'd say it isn't so much evil as dishonourable, by preventing a fair fight. When someone faces you sword to sword, they can reasonably know what to expect. If your sword is poisoned however, they can't know it just by looking, so it inherently makes the fight less fair.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2011-06-14 at 12:56 AM.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    I always argue: No. What is evil is how it is used.

    Think of this, my distant relatives in the Amazon Rainforest use poison on their darts/weapons to take down game, and in the past war. They use it no different than a Fighter putting the Flame or Ice property on his weapon. It is clearly an enhancement to his weapon that is clearly coming at your face.

    Now, what is evil is say putting it in an old king's drink and killing him cowardly. That is why we really relate poison to evil.


    ps.
    I consider being put aflame or being frozen as I am being sliced apart undue suffering.
    Last edited by Pika...; 2011-06-14 at 12:58 AM.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    By raw, poison is evil.

    Personally, I'd say it isn't so much evil as dishonourable, by preventing a fair fight. When someone faces you sword to sword, they can reasonably know what to expect. If your sword is poisoned however, they can't know it just by looking, so it inherently makes the fight less fair.
    This I'd agree with. IMO honor is mostly (but not always) the realm of lawfulness, so I'd say poison use is frequently chaotic (but depending on the circumstances/reasoning, might not be, or could even be the opposite).
    Last edited by PollyOliver; 2011-06-14 at 12:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    So, in thinking:

    If the person is going to die no matter what, it would be arguably not evil. The method of his death is not as important because with a 100% certainty, he is going to die.

    But in practical application--by using it in combat or even in an assassination attempt where one person may not be aware of an impending confrontation--poison use is arguably evil. (By romanticized, moral standards, anyway). Poison use gives an unfair edge, tipping the balance...which could be construed as a neutral or evil action.

    And interesting--by RAW it's evil. That's good to note. The ravages and afflictions thing is weird though...


    Quote Originally Posted by Pika... View Post
    I always argue: No. What is evil is how it is used.

    Think of this, my distant relatives in the Amazon Rainforest use poison on their darts/weapons to take down game, and in the past war. They use it no different than a Fighter putting the Flame or Ice property on his weapon. It is clearly an enhancement to his weapon that is clearly coming at your face.

    Now, what is evil is say putting it in an old king's drink and killing him cowardly. That is why we really relate poison to evil.


    ps.
    I consider being put aflame or being frozen as I am being sliced apart undue suffering.
    I enjoy the take on this. Not something I thought of.
    Last edited by myancey; 2011-06-14 at 12:59 AM.
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    Yeah man, I'd get out while you still enjoy d&d.

    As much as it sucks to say, some people aren't meant to DM because they lack the ability to make judgment calls. These people include:

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    Furries
    People who buy Backyard Poultry magazine
    People who post on Rants and Raves (craigslist)
    People who buy hummers
    Professional laser tag players

    And this list goes on.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    If you are using BoED (I suggest not doing that) poison is evil by RAW. If going by the PHB it is merely dishonorable by RAW.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    The last time this was a topic, it devolved into a rather ridiculous argument. Poison being evil is entirely subjective with all sorts of exceptions concerning the greater good or alternative Assassin classes called something like Avengers...

    I would simply say it's dishonorable, and plenty of heroes are plenty dishonorable.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by myancey View Post
    So, in thinking:

    If the person is going to die no matter what, it would be arguably not evil. The method of his death is not as important because with a 100% certainty, he is going to die.

    But in practical application--by using it in combat or even in an assassination attempt where one person may not be aware of an impending confrontation--poison use is arguably evil. (By romanticized, moral standards, anyway). Poison use gives an unfair edge, tipping the balance...which could be construed as a neutral or evil action.

    And interesting--by RAW it's evil. That's good to note. The ravages and afflictions thing is weird though...
    It's very weird. I like to pretend it never happened (or, rather the always evil part never happened).

    I wouldn't say that an unfair edge is evil though, necessarily. Going invisible and shanking your kidney out with sneak attack and staggering you with staggering strike so you can't retaliate is probably an "unfair advantage" by chivalrous standards. I tend to think honor and fairness are more in the realm of law v. chaos. Unfortunately, many of the designers appear to be of the opinion that lawful good is the best good, and this gets confused a lot. Or I'm just wrong. But it makes more sense to me as it being on the other axis, personally.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Poison use (among other things) being inherently evil is equally stupid as the assassin class requiring you to be evil. Assuming you want to rule that poison use is always evil, the use of one evil method does not an evil character make, anyway.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by PollyOliver View Post
    It's very weird. I like to pretend it never happened (or, rather the always evil part never happened).

    I wouldn't say that an unfair edge is evil though, necessarily. Going invisible and shanking your kidney out with sneak attack and staggering you with staggering strike so you can't retaliate is probably an "unfair advantage" by chivalrous standards. I tend to think honor and fairness are more in the realm of law v. chaos. Unfortunately, many of the designers appear to be of the opinion that lawful good is the best good, and this gets confused a lot. Or I'm just wrong. But it makes more sense to me as it being on the other axis, personally.
    I like the idea honor and fairness or more law vs. chaos. I think I'll be sure to incorporate that into my DMing...seems reasonable to me.
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    Yeah man, I'd get out while you still enjoy d&d.

    As much as it sucks to say, some people aren't meant to DM because they lack the ability to make judgment calls. These people include:

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    People who buy Backyard Poultry magazine
    People who post on Rants and Raves (craigslist)
    People who buy hummers
    Professional laser tag players

    And this list goes on.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hirax View Post
    Poison use (among other things) being inherently evil is equally stupid as the assassin class requiring you to be evil. Assuming you want to rule that poison use is always evil, the use of one evil method does not an evil character make, anyway.
    Because everyone knows Assassins are Lawful Badass.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hirax View Post
    Poison use (among other things) being inherently evil is equally stupid as the assassin class requiring you to be evil.
    Well, as a perquisite to joining the mystical brotherhood of assassins, you have to kill someone in cold blood for no other reason to join the assassins. If your alignment isn't evil, it sure is after doing that.

    Thus, alignment pre-req. A bit redundant, perhaps, but definitely there.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin View Post
    Well, as a perquisite to joining the mystical brotherhood of assassins, you have to kill someone in cold blood for no other reason to join the assassins. If your alignment isn't evil, it sure is after doing that.
    No, that's not what it says.

    The character must kill someone for no other reason than to join the assassins.
    Kill a corrupt politician, evil wizard, or other BBEG. It doesn't say you need to choose someone randomly. It only needs to be someone that you otherwise would not have killed before.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    People get confused because poison is on the Paladin no-no list, but it's there because it is underhanded, dastardly, and decidedly unhonorable--not because it is Evil.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    I don't know why they put it as evil, but they did if you go by raw it is evil but if you don't find it evil and your the dm just say its not evil, or convince the dm to see your side of it, now none of my players know of poison so its not that big a deal for me.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hirax View Post
    Kill a corrupt politician, evil wizard, or other BBEG. It doesn't say you need to choose someone randomly. It only needs to be someone that you otherwise would not have killed before.
    Truth. I actually usually lessen the requirements of the assassin class to allow more than just evil characters entrance. I hate most alignment restrictions when it comes to races, classes. Not in BoED or BoVD though...
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    Yeah man, I'd get out while you still enjoy d&d.

    As much as it sucks to say, some people aren't meant to DM because they lack the ability to make judgment calls. These people include:

    The drug-addled
    Furries
    People who buy Backyard Poultry magazine
    People who post on Rants and Raves (craigslist)
    People who buy hummers
    Professional laser tag players

    And this list goes on.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    It's up to you and your DM.

    In my opinion, there is nothing evil about poison in the same way that there is nothing evil about a sword.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin View Post
    Well, as a perquisite to joining the mystical brotherhood of assassins, you have to kill someone in cold blood for no other reason to join the assassins. If your alignment isn't evil, it sure is after doing that.

    Thus, alignment pre-req. A bit redundant, perhaps, but definitely there.
    Which does nothing to explain why that requirement is actually there or mitigate the raw stupidity of it, even if that's what it actually was.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    I do find it interesting that, going strictly by what's in the BoED, casting Shivering Touch (and doing 3d6 DEX damage, no save) is less evil than rubbing some terinav root (1d6/2d6 DEX damage, DC 16 Fort negates) on them. Their reasoning is: because.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    I can never understand WOTC's reasoning; taking RAW as a whole is like grabbing a book filled with fortune cookie sayings and basing your life off of them. "Poison is evil because it hurts people's stats!" "Ravages are good because they are eco-friendly!" "Assassins are evil because they kill people without the person seeing them!" "Sneak attacking someone isn't evil!" "BaB is equal to spell casting!" "You will find true love/a job/a pet/happiness today!" No one can use RAW indiscriminately and not be contradictory.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hirax View Post
    Kill a corrupt politician, evil wizard, or other BBEG. It doesn't say you need to choose someone randomly. It only needs to be someone that you otherwise would not have killed before.
    1) If you are killing them because they are corrupt or evil, you have failed the stipulation that there can be no other reason besides "join the assassins."

    2) Killing evil people is neutral at best, unless you are saving the life of one of their imminent victims and there is no other way to do this.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    1) If you are killing them because they are corrupt or evil, you have failed the stipulation that there can be no other reason besides "join the assassins."
    Disagree 100%. The ramification of your statement being true would be that you need to choose someone at random.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    1) If you are killing them because they are corrupt or evil, you have failed the stipulation that there can be no other reason besides "join the assassins."
    If you use any criteria for selecting someone to kill for the PrC, you've failed the stipulations that there can be no other reason besides "join the assassins," by that logic

    Quote Originally Posted by Hirax View Post
    Disagree 100%. The ramification of your statement being true would be that you need to choose someone at random.
    Even that wouldn't work, because you're killing them because they're a random person you selected to kill or because they're the first person you saw that's not in your party or the first person you saw and now your party wants to kill you so your character is a wash...

    Or simply because it's impossible to be truly random.

    Even if you roll a percentile dice, the character is now doing it because the entity outside the game universe that is controlling it rolled a 3 (on the table or without a table), while the player is doing it because the die roll told him to. Or the DM told him to.
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2011-06-14 at 02:07 AM.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    No, but it could be construed as chaotic. If you're fighting someone, in many codes of honour, it is supposed to be a test of your skill verses theirs. The use of poison is an unfair advantage. Codes of honour in general are lawful things in my view.
    Poisoning someones food would generally speaking be evil, but not because you used poison but because it is murder.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hirax
    Disagree 100%. The ramification of your statement being true would be that you need to choose someone at random.
    That may very well be the implication. In fact, it rather justifies the alignment requirement as killing someone for such a petty reason is an eminently evil act in my books.
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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coidzor View Post
    This is a contentious issue.
    I disagree, on the basis that I've never actually seen anyone take any side other than 'It's so obviously stupid that poison use is considered evil.' This topic seems to be a biweekly thread and a favorite 'punching bag' issue - raging against the machine of the morality-imposing DnD-designing curmudgeons of olde, whose archaic game design restrictions and sacred cows of sanctimony must be torn down!

    I agree with the consensus, I just find it a bit...'fish in a barrel', you know? Playing devil's advocate, it's pretty easy to think of fluff to explain the ravages/afflictions thing: maybe they don't cause the 'undue pain and suffering' of poisons, maybe are debilitating but just feel numb, or even euphoric like some drugs.

    Of course, there are RL poisons which are like this - I've heard hemlock just makes you numb and sleepy before you die and isn't painful; don't ask me how we can know for sure though - and of course the 'but a sword or morningstar can be incredibly gruesome and painful' point remains a problem with declaring poison as evil.
    Last edited by ffone; 2011-06-14 at 02:23 AM.

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    Default Re: Is poison use evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravens_cry View Post
    That may very well be the implication. In fact, it rather justifies the alignment requirement as killing someone for such a petty reason is an eminently evil act in my books.
    And completely defeats the whole fluff of needing training and skills and finesse and talent if the entry requirement is, knife the first person you see until they stop bleeding.

    If an assassin is all about planning and contracted killings but the entry requirement is to be a brainless killbot... That's some serious disconnect and fluff fail.
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