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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Descriptive is just as bad, because that's where the vast majority of arguments stem from.
    Primarily it's bad because people don't agree on whether you should use a consequentialist/utilitarian view or a deontological.

    Add in that consequentialism is *really hard* without the ability to predict the future, and those two result in the vast majority of disputes. (Note that the Good/Evil divide is where the issues typically are, not the Law/Chaos divide, which has much less vigorous arguments, though there are still some grey areas).

    If you start with a deontological viewpoint, and it's explicitly stated "this is how we're doing alignment, even if you disagree with it in the real world", then it works reasonably well.
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  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    .. not the Law/Chaos divide, which has much less vigorous arguments, though there are still some grey areas
    I've always got the impression that there is just as much disagreement about law/chaos, but people don't make as big of a fuss about it. Good and Evil are words that people use in the real world that have a strong emotional attachment to it. Saying "this is evil", will get someone's back up very fast if they disagree, because you are challenging their values.

    Law and Chaos are much more vague terms and have less emotional attachment to them. If I say that I disagree with your interpretation of what "chaos" means, it is less likely that you would interpret that as me disagreeing with your personal values.

  3. - Top - End - #63
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    (Note that the Good/Evil divide is where the issues typically are, not the Law/Chaos divide, which has much less vigorous arguments, though there are still some grey areas).
    Absolutely, and a large chunk of that is because most people attach more moral 'weight' to individual evil evil actions than a combined total of good behavior, as well as believing in a Fall from Grace.

    If you start with a deontological viewpoint, and it's explicitly stated "this is how we're doing alignment, even if you disagree with it in the real world", then it works reasonably well.
    Not really. Because the definitions are never interpreted the same way by everyone at the table. You'd need a full on book of Alignment Codes for that to work. Plus an assigned judge, and probably Alignment lawyers to argue your case before them.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-01-10 at 05:35 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    I used to engage in all the hoop-jumping required for alignment to make sense, then I realized... well, what's the point? In order to make alignment a guideline rather than as straitjacket, descriptive rather than prescriptive, etcetera... we dilute it to the point of meaninglessness. And what do we get in return? Nine vague labels that can really mean anything when we get down to it. There's plenty of ways to facilitate role play, define character goals and help inexperienced players find their footing that don't make statements about morality and provoke lengthy debates.
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  5. - Top - End - #65
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Disagree.

    Sure, a lot of the arguments against alignment result from misreadings or disagreements on alignment, but not all.
    I said 100% of the ones I have seen. But that's a pretty broad stroke statement that encompasses everything from people using "alternate definitions" of Good/Evil/Law/Chaos, to DMs mandating prescriptive alignment, to players who try and treat Chaotic Neutral as a blank check to be Evil, utterly random, or otherwise a disruptive jerkbag, and more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Want to know why I dislike alignment? It's simple.

    No, really, that's my answer. Alignment is simple. As in, a gross oversimplification.
    But that's exactly why it works. Alignment is SUCH a gross overgeneralization that more complex moral and ethical outlooks are not precluded. The claim of which by some people is one of the things that REALLY sticks in my craw.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Certain actions are arbitrarily, inherently Evil (or non-Evil); certain beings - being which we are otherwise supposed to treat as thinking creatures with something resembling free will - have an inherent racial tendency towards some alignment.

    That latter point, by the way? That actually is a a RAW example of alignment being prescriptive, not just descriptive. If you have a race of 100% Evil beings, that's basically mandating alignment and actions. Less so for a PC - they get to decide just how Evil they want to be - but a mandate nonetheless.
    I can't think of any examples of actions which are "arbitrarily" Evil, can you name some? I know people try to claim some bullhonky about "creation of undead" as a popular one, but that's an asinine claim. Arbitrary means "based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system." Creation of Undead as inherently evil in previous editions of D&D is supported by several reasons listed in the RAW, and all the mechanics surrounding it are coherent and cohesive. Which means it is not "arbitrary". Can you be more specific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Think of how many debates there are over stupid, stupid alignment things, things that could create all sorts of nuance and conflict. The classic Paladin auto-fall scenarios. The idea of killing one person to save thousands. These things could create amazing scenarios, plots, and moments of turmoil and challenge. But instead, arbitrary alignment rears its ugly head and says, "Nope, Good is Good and Evil is Evil."
    "Paladin auto-fall scenarios" are-once again- the fault of a jerkbag DM, and NOT alignment mechanics. So I refuse to engage that topic. The fault is PEOPLE, not the result of inferior or faulty mechanics. Doesn't matter that the DM used alignment to be a jerkbag. If someone gets beaten to death with a length of steel pipe, because steel pipes were built to be sturdy, does that mean that steel pipes are inherently dangerous to people when used in the appropriate manner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Arguments like this one aren't about people deviating from the rules. They're about the rules oversimplifying concepts that should be complex and nuanced, ideas that should make for a great narrative and character arc. Instead, you can literally equip an item that tells you, "No, this is bad, that is good, do that." (Phylactery of Faithfulness, for the record.)
    Arguments like this one are about PEOPLE being the problem. Whether they're deviating from the rules, or using them as an excuse to be a jerkbag. Blame the DM or the Player who did it, not the rules they used.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    If a species is "always Evil," and not in the "always means, like, 90%" sense, but properly always and universally Evil, then it cannot go against that nature. Its instincts are to engage in acts of Evil, whatever they may be, and it will not go against those instincts. That isn't free will.

    In aligned Outsiders or similar embodiments of alignment, that's understandable. A Slaad, or Archon, or Devil, is made up of cosmic alignment-stuff, so of course it will never rebel against those instincts. But what about mortal races? If a mortal race is described as "always Evil," that means that babies, when they are born and before they are capable of causing any harm other than stains, are Evil. This is an absurd result.

    If a creature has free will, it can choose its actions, its mindset, and its ultimate resultant alignment. To arbitrarily assign alignment based upon circumstances of birth is, at best, completely irrational. (Again, setting aside Outsiders.)
    Ok, so you didn't mean Outsiders, beings who are literally made of alignment energies.

    What mortal races are listed as "always Evil"? All the examples of 3.5e I can think of say "Usually Evil" or "Often Evil". I'm more familiar with that edition than any other. I know in 5e, evil humanoid races have less free will than in previous editions, because the gods that created them designed them that way. Orcs, for example, constantly feel the dark will of Gruumsh driving them to Evil. Even Half-orcs feel his call, but are better able to resist it, due to their orc blood being diluted.

    What other examples from what editions are you talking about? Mortal races that say "Always Evil"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I used to engage in all the hoop-jumping required for alignment to make sense, then I realized... well, what's the point? In order to make alignment a guideline rather than as straitjacket, descriptive rather than prescriptive, etcetera... we dilute it to the point of meaninglessness. And what do we get in return? Nine vague labels that can really mean anything when we get down to it. There's plenty of ways to facilitate role play, define character goals and help inexperienced players find their footing that don't make statements about morality and provoke lengthy debates.
    Ah yes, here it is, the inevitable post from someone who likes to claim that alignment is only for people "less evolved" as a gamer than they.

    You're very impressive. Those of us using alignment are clearly much more primitive and less experienced than you are. *clap clap*. Now move along.
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  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Kobold

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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Ah yes, here it is, the inevitable post from someone who likes to claim that alignment is only for people "less evolved" as a gamer than they.

    You're very impressive. Those of us using alignment are clearly much more primitive and less experienced than you are. *clap clap*. Now move along.
    There's enough salt here to cure a whole cow's worth of beef.

    Also, that's not what he said. He said that there are other ways to accomplish the same outcome without the weaknesses alignment suffers from.

    If you like it, then by all means use it. Just don't get so self-absorbed and salty that literally anyone giving reasons why they prefer not to use it must therefore be insulting you. If anyone simply saying they prefer other solutions feels to you like an attack, that says a lot more about the weakness of alignment than anything he said.

  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Primarily it's bad because people don't agree on whether you should use a consequentialist/utilitarian view or a deontological.

    Add in that consequentialism is *really hard* without the ability to predict the future, and those two result in the vast majority of disputes. (Note that the Good/Evil divide is where the issues typically are, not the Law/Chaos divide, which has much less vigorous arguments, though there are still some grey areas).

    If you start with a deontological viewpoint, and it's explicitly stated "this is how we're doing alignment, even if you disagree with it in the real world", then it works reasonably well.
    IMO, the "cannot know the future" issue is one of the reasons intent also matters (along with actions and outcomes). If your "good faith" (in the intellectual sense) intent is to do a good thing, to help or benefit others, to make things better,etc, and you had solid reason to think that your actions would have that kind of outcome, then that's morally different than intentionally setting out to do harm and cause suffering (for their own sake), make things worse, put your wants above someone else's rights, etc.

    This also short-circuits many ginned-up "fall to evil" scenarios. Example, if you were given every reason to believe that your actions would have a good result, but it was s trick to get you to harm and deprive others, and you regret the outcome after the fact, then IMO you were not tricked into doing evil, you were tricked by someone else who was intentionally doing evil.

    In fact, many of the "moral dilemmas" I see in fiction and gaming are really examples of an outside party themselves engaged in an immoral act by forcing an impossible moral choice on the person who is supposedly forced to "do evil".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-10 at 11:57 PM.
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  8. - Top - End - #68
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    IMO, the "cannot know the future" issue is one of the reasons intent also matters (along with actions and outcomes). If your "good faith" (in the intellectual sense) intent is to do a good thing, to help or benefit others, to make things better,etc, and you had solid reason to think that your actions would have that kind of outcome, then that's morally different than intentionally setting out to do harm and cause suffering (for their own sake), make things worse, put your wants above someone else's rights, etc.
    Agreed. You could quite easily have someone who tries to do the right thing, but constantly causes suffering and pain due to incompetence and bad decision making skills. They would be dangerous, but not evil.

    This also short-circuits many ginned-up "fall to evil" scenarios. Example, if you were given every reason to believe that your actions would have a good result, but it was s trick to get you to harm and deprive others, and you regret the outcome after the fact, then IMO you were not tricked into doing evil, you were tricked by someone else who was intentionally doing evil.
    If an evil wizard saw two children roughhousing, and cast an illusion on one of them to make it look like a rabid goblin, attacking the other child... and a Paladin happens by.

    Then no, the Paladin isn't evil for killing the child. He thought he was saving the other child. As you say, intent matters. (of course the paladin will be emotionally scared and guilt ridden... but not evil)
    Last edited by Aliquid; 2018-01-11 at 12:50 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    I don't think that there's a problem with people dropping alignments from their games. It's obviously a tool they don't like and won't engage with and dropping it is probably the right thing to do for their group if they feel that way. It causes probably less problems for them if they do and it isn't really likely to come back to bite them or anything. They just miss out on a minor aspect of the game that can be worked around very easily. You can just change spells like Detect Evil/Good to Detect Hostile Intent, Smite Evil to Smite Opponent and Undetectable alignment to Undetectable Intentions and the game can work just fine for all intents and purposes.

    Similarly, Protection from Alignment should then be named simply Protection. Maybe the AC bonus would work like dodge in that you'd have to name the target they apply towards.

    Anyway, I don't think it behooves begrudging people who like alignment to keep using them.
    Last edited by Mordaedil; 2018-01-11 at 02:17 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #70
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    In fact, many of the "moral dilemmas" I see in fiction and gaming are really examples of an outside party themselves engaged in an immoral act by forcing an impossible moral choice on the person who is supposedly forced to "do evil".
    That is just bad writing. And something most often found in Comics. Instead of having some plausible reason for a difficult choice you just take a villian who wants to make things difficult and you can justify any contrievances. And you have someone the audience can hate and blame for all evil outcomes.

    In slightly more serious work such moral dilemmas usually are not imposed by an evil force (it can happen, but is rare). Typical examples are :

    - Triage : You have limited ressources and more parties who really need it. It is something that can't be shared without becoming useless. Who is more deserving, where does the item in question do more good ?

    - Loyalty : Do you help a friend you are indebted to or someone who needs your help more ?

    - Force : So you have a plan to make the world a better place. But some people would be worse off with it and don't like your plan. How much force/violence is allowed to make them accept your Greater Good ?

    - Recklessness : So you have incomplete information about the outcome but must make a choice. Do you prefer a small chance of something really bad happening to a big chance of something small happening ? Are you willing to expend valuable resources to chase a negligible chance of a miracle ?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Ah yes, here it is, the inevitable post from someone who likes to claim that alignment is only for people "less evolved" as a gamer than they.

    You're very impressive. Those of us using alignment are clearly much more primitive and less experienced than you are. *clap clap*. Now move along.
    Maybe you should bring your complaint to those insisting on alignment being a useful guideline for new players instead of those who think alignment are not particularly useful in any situation.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2018-01-11 at 02:27 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #71
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    Not an absurd result at all, but a horrible result to ponder because saying that a baby "will always grow up evil" very strongly goes against our values as humans. And rightfully so, we should never think that a baby is evil... because someone might apply that logic to a human, and you don't ever want to go there.
    Yes we can see a baby as evil when we are talking about a fantasy world where some species are objectively evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    Lets say someone builds a robot that looks and acts exactly like a small child. I tell you and prove to you that it is in fact a robot, and then someone starts beating that robot with a baseball bat. Meanwhile the robot very convincingly cries and begs the person to stop.

    Even though you know it is a robot, you will instinctively feel horrified with what you are witnessing and likely do what you can to stop the process. This is because a lot of our moral responses are "gut feelings" rather than rational ones. If someone next to you was laughing and saying "ha ha, hit that robot!", you would think... "that guy makes me nervous... why doesn't this bother him. What else could he do without being bothered?"

    So, likewise, we shouldn't have people in a RPG killing babies because they are "evil"... because we shouldn't condition ourselves to think that kind of behavior is ok.
    The robot example fails as that takes place in our world where evil is subjective and the robot looks like a human. You remind me of the people who said playing D&D will make people commit murders or start to worship the devil

  12. - Top - End - #72
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by jk7275 View Post
    Yes we can see a baby as evil when we are talking about a fantasy world where some species are objectively evil
    And killing it will make you objectively evil because that is how that fantasy world works. Something like that is vile enough to not just count as an evil deed but as big enough a transgression to warrant instant alignment-shift. No excuses for genocidal motivated murder.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2018-01-11 at 03:43 AM.

  13. - Top - End - #73
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    Not an absurd result at all, but a horrible result to ponder because saying that a baby "will always grow up evil" very strongly goes against our values as humans. And rightfully so, we should never think that a baby is evil... because someone might apply that logic to a human, and you don't ever want to go there.
    One of the things about alignment is that, at least over time, the writers and designers of D&D recognized that the universe they had created was full - like absolutely brimming - with beings that didn't have anything even vaguely resembling human values. When it came to alignment they tried to craft a system that would encompass everything. Planescape, in particular, really waded into the weeds on this.

    This attempt at a sort of universal objectivity, one that would encompass not only all possible human cultures, but also the behavior of creatures such as a slave-taking hegemonizing swarm (Formians), bizarrely chaotic trickster beings that functioned largely as emotional parasites on other species (several fey types), bizarre alien beings that have to feed on the brains of other sapients to survive (illithids), and more had some weird consequences.

    Ultimately, alignment values spew out values that are in many ways antithetical to human values, because the D&D universe isn't dominated by humans. That's why a significant number of the Planescape factions - which were intended to try and find some sort of philosophical lever to grasp the madness that is the D&D multiverse came up with an answer that begins 'this can't be right...something else must be going on.' and several others came up with 'blow it all up!'

    At the end of the day in D&D, a pious human saint who forswears all worldly possessions and devotes his entire adult life to helping the poor and a floating orb with a giant eye, a mouth, and a bunch of eyes on stalks are going to be judged according to the same system of moral arbitration and have you souls sent out to places on the same pie chart. Yeah, it's pretty crazy - it's a fantasy kitchen sink, it always was.
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    That is just bad writing. And something most often found in Comics. Instead of having some plausible reason for a difficult choice you just take a villian who wants to make things difficult and you can justify any contrievances. And you have someone the audience can hate and blame for all evil outcomes.
    While I don't disagree that it's usually bad writing, I've often seen this sort of scenario presented, and accepted by the audience, as a case of the protagonist being "forced or tricked into doing evil", as if it made the tricked or forced character less good or more evil for having done the thing they were forced or tricked into doing.
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Ah yes, here it is, the inevitable post from someone who likes to claim that alignment is only for people "less evolved" as a gamer than they.

    You're very impressive. Those of us using alignment are clearly much more primitive and less experienced than you are. *clap clap*. Now move along.
    I said that I used to try and make alignment work, but then I realized it's not worth the trouble. Anything else that you've interpreted from my post is on you.
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    If I donít look at the massive arguments happening from this, it canít kill my brain.

  17. - Top - End - #77
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by jk7275 View Post
    Yes we can see a baby as evil when we are talking about a fantasy world where some species are objectively evil



    The robot example fails as that takes place in our world where evil is subjective and the robot looks like a human. You remind me of the people who said playing D&D will make people commit murders or start to worship the devil
    The robot example is 100% relevant because it is about a real world person responding to a situation, and when we play d&d we are real world people playing the game.

    A player (real world person) should have a real world moral reaction (gut feeling) in response to discussing infanticide (in game). Even though it isnít real (just like the robot isnít a real child).

  18. - Top - End - #78
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    I said 100% of the ones I have seen. But that's a pretty broad stroke statement that encompasses everything from people using "alternate definitions" of Good/Evil/Law/Chaos, to DMs mandating prescriptive alignment, to players who try and treat Chaotic Neutral as a blank check to be Evil, utterly random, or otherwise a disruptive jerkbag, and more.
    *adjusts glasses* Um, actually, you said "I have heard," but yeah, fair point.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    But that's exactly why it works. Alignment is SUCH a gross overgeneralization that more complex moral and ethical outlooks are not precluded. The claim of which by some people is one of the things that REALLY sticks in my craw.
    Here, again, is where I disagree. It's such a gross overgeneralization, in my mind, that more complex moral and ethical outlooks are precluded, because - again - the books draw explicit lines, irrespective of circumstance or justification.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    I can't think of any examples of actions which are "arbitrarily" Evil, can you name some? I know people try to claim some bullhonky about "creation of undead" as a popular one, but that's an asinine claim. Arbitrary means "based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system." Creation of Undead as inherently evil in previous editions of D&D is supported by several reasons listed in the RAW, and all the mechanics surrounding it are coherent and cohesive. Which means it is not "arbitrary". Can you be more specific?
    First, let me clarify: In this context, when I use the term "arbitrary," I mean the "because we said so and that's final" definition of the word, not necessarily the "unsupported and baseless" definition of the word. For example, slavery is obviously an Always Evil act, for perfectly logical reasons. By contrast, killing an Always Evil creature is an Always Good act, irrespective of context or justification. Again, see my admittedly reductio ad absurdum argument about Always Evil babies. I cannot conceive of a circumstance in which it would be an act of absolute, unquestionable Good to kill a baby. You can offer whatever justifications you like - it will grow up to murder, it naturally produces continent-annihilating toxins, whatever - and maybe you could make an argument. But you're still killing a baby, and under arbitrary alignment, there are contexts where that action is unquestionably Good.

    Another example, which you point out, is spells with an [Evil] tag. Casting those makes you Evil, or indicates that you are the sort of Evil being who would cast such spells. This is true regardless of context or justification. By way of illustration, the Deathwatch spell carries the Evil tag. This means that using it, for any reason, is an Evil act. But what if you're a triage doctor using it to determine quickly which patients need your life-saving treatments the most? That's pretty clearly a Good act. Nope, doesn't matter, Always Evil.

    That's my point. D&D RAW has defined certain actions as Always Evil, or Always Good, irrespective of context or justification. And that last clause is problematic, because it prevents any moral complexity or nuance. The Trolley Problem is a moral dilemma because it asks the question - is it acceptable to commit one murder to save multiple lives? D&D RAW removes the nuance by stating explicitly: "Murder is an Evil act." Therefore, no, it is not acceptable, full stop.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    "Paladin auto-fall scenarios" are-once again- the fault of a jerkbag DM, and NOT alignment mechanics. So I refuse to engage that topic. The fault is PEOPLE, not the result of inferior or faulty mechanics. Doesn't matter that the DM used alignment to be a jerkbag. If someone gets beaten to death with a length of steel pipe, because steel pipes were built to be sturdy, does that mean that steel pipes are inherently dangerous to people when used in the appropriate manner.
    Agreed in part, disagreed in part. Paladin auto-fall scenarios are the fault of a jerkbag DM, true. However, they can only exist by RAW because alignment mechanics permit them. It's like this: If I push you off of the top of a building to your death, there's no question I am a murderer. But if there were no gravity, it would not have been possible for me to do so. That doesn't absolve me of blame for your death, but it explains the context in which it was possible for me to kill you.

    Alignment mechanics are a tool for jerkbag DMs to engage in jerkbag tactics. They are not the only tool, but they are a powerful one, and removing them does neuter a jerkbag DM's ability to be a jerkbag, at least to a small extent.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Arguments like this one are about PEOPLE being the problem. Whether they're deviating from the rules, or using them as an excuse to be a jerkbag. Blame the DM or the Player who did it, not the rules they used.
    Why not both? Yes, definitely, blame jerks for being jerks, but if we have the means to make it harder for them to be jerks - i.e. removing alignment mechanics - why not use those means?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Ok, so you didn't mean Outsiders, beings who are literally made of alignment energies.

    What mortal races are listed as "always Evil"? All the examples of 3.5e I can think of say "Usually Evil" or "Often Evil". I'm more familiar with that edition than any other. I know in 5e, evil humanoid races have less free will than in previous editions, because the gods that created them designed them that way. Orcs, for example, constantly feel the dark will of Gruumsh driving them to Evil. Even Half-orcs feel his call, but are better able to resist it, due to their orc blood being diluted.

    What other examples from what editions are you talking about? Mortal races that say "Always Evil"?
    Aren't 5e Orcs "Always Evil?" I may be misremembering, mind you.

    Also, do Dragons count as "mortal races?" Because 3.5e True Dragons have the "always" marker next to their alignments. Black Dragon, always CE; Blue Dragon, always LE; Green Dragon, always LE; Red Dragon, always CE; and so on.

    Do Undead count? 3.5e Vampires, for example, are intelligent Undead - capable of thinking, feeling, and so forth - yet are listed as Always Evil (any). This means that you could theoretically have a Vampire who runs a hospital, cares for the sick and the feeble, saves countless lives, and is able to work tirelessly through the night (due to that whole lack of sleep thing), yet killing said Vampire is still an unquestionably Good act, because Always Evil.

    Okay, let's put aside Dragons or Undead. What about Sphinxes? In 3.5e, the Androsphinx is Always CG, the Hieracosphinx is Always CE. These are intelligent Magical Beasts - not Constructs, not cosmically-formed Outsiders, not inherently-Evil Undead, not ageless Dragons, just intelligent Magical Beasts - which are Always alignment. Do they count?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post

    Aren't 5e Orcs "Always Evil?" I may be misremembering, mind you.
    5E leaves it a little unclear what the proportion of exceptions is. The 5e gnoll section does emphasise that they are magical creations of demon-tainting energies, and not a "natural race" as well as emphasising their evilness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    killing an Always Evil creature is an Always Good act, irrespective of context or justification. Again, see my admittedly reductio ad absurdum argument about Always Evil babies. I cannot conceive of a circumstance in which it would be an act of absolute, unquestionable Good to kill a baby.
    The 3e book that says that (BOVD), narrows it down a bit - it says that killing a fiend (Outsider with the Evil subtype) is Always Good. It has a bit more nuance for "ordinary" Always Evil creatures like dragons.

    It says that killing a chromatic dragon purely for personal profit, is "not an evil act, though it's not a good act".

    Are there "fiend babies" in 3rd ed? Yes. Unholy scions in Heroes of Horror, and the offspring of erinyes couples in FF2 (it states that erinyes reproduce like mortals (unlike most fiends) and that this is where new erinyes tend to come from - ones who weren't ever "fallen angels".

    So, taking BoVD literally, killing a baby erinyes or Unholy Scion would be an "act of absolute, unquestionable Good" though it might revolt the players.
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    Default Re: alignment is bad and you should feel bad

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Are there "fiend babies" in 3rd ed? Yes. Unholy scions in Heroes of Horror, and the offspring of erinyes couples in FF2 (it states that erinyes reproduce like mortals (unlike most fiends) and that this is where new erinyes tend to come from - ones who weren't ever "fallen angels".

    So, taking BoVD literally, killing a baby erinyes or Unholy Scion would be an "act of absolute, unquestionable Good" though it might revolt the players.
    I dunno. The concept of "fiend babies" reproduced like mortals while still being essentially "made of pure evil" gives me reason to believe they aren't the quiet, innocent creatures as our own infants. They're still intrinsically evil creatures and would probably bite a pound of flesh off you if given the chance for no other reason than that it would be more evil than not biting you.

    I get the sense that if we were really considering the scenario given that while Erinyes have offspring that can technically be called, "babies," an accurate description would likely make them seem like really weak and ineffectual monsters more than resembling what we think of as babies.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    That's my point. D&D RAW has defined certain actions as Always Evil, or Always Good, irrespective of context or justification. And that last clause is problematic, because it prevents any moral complexity or nuance. The Trolley Problem is a moral dilemma because it asks the question - is it acceptable to commit one murder to save multiple lives? D&D RAW removes the nuance by stating explicitly: "Murder is an Evil act." Therefore, no, it is not acceptable, full stop.
    Yes. D&D alignment works from a deontological viewpoint. The point of the trolley problem isn't "find the right answer" it's "are you a consequentialist or a deontologist?" Asking a question which already has a defined answer is kind of stupid, and so trolley problems shouldn't exist in D&D. Or, at the very least, the GM should be clear about how the answer will be interpreted re: alignment.

    A reasonable understanding of alignment made by a mature GM handles it quite nicely. Yes, it's an Evil act (though, if you ask the person and they agree to be sacrificed, I'd argue it's not.). It also saves a lot of people.

    But guess what? People, even Good people, can *and do* commit Evil acts. Committing an Evil act to save many, many people may still be Evil, but probably won't twig your alignment, particularly if the individual feels remorse and guilt over their actions. The only real issue is when the person commits this act and feels totally justified and "yup, did the right thing!" A Good person just won't commit a significant Evil act, or one without a good reason, and will prefer to take the problems themselves rather than push them on others. But there are situations, sure! A Good character might steal to save starving orphans if all other options had been exhausted - but they'd still regret doing it, and would try to make amends in some way.

    Now, a Paladin might Fall for that, true... but that's exactly why Atonement exists. If you're a Paladin that has done something Evil, even if necessary, the guilt of that should weigh you down, until some way of making amends for it (the spell) has occurred.

    Now, if you've got a **** GM who's just out to screw you via trolley problem? Then, yeah, you're in a bad situation. But that's because you've got a **** GM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And killing it will make you objectively evil because that is how that fantasy world works. Something like that is vile enough to not just count as an evil deed but as big enough a transgression to warrant instant alignment-shift. No excuses for genocidal motivated murder.
    That's not how that fantasy world works. You are reducing the amount of evil in the world and this is not about killing humans. If someone kills a baby rattlesnake are you going to say that is evil? If we kill off all the cockroaches are you going to call it murder or genocide?
    Murder is an unlawful killing. What are the laws governing killing in a fantasy world? Why would they include anything that is objective evil? What are the laws of gods? There isn't anything stopping from a lawful good god telling his paladins to kill Orc babies and when that paladin kills an orc baby it is not evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    The robot example is 100% relevant because it is about a real world person responding to a situation, and when we play d&d we are real world people playing the game.

    A player (real world person) should have a real world moral reaction (gut feeling) in response to discussing infanticide (in game). Even though it isnít real (just like the robot isnít a real child).
    The robot example is basically just an appeal to emotion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jk7275 View Post
    The robot example is basically just an appeal to emotion.
    If you want to go there, then EVERY response to what is moral or immoral is an "appeal to emotion". We don't have time to ponder logically and philosophically about what is moral and immoral for every event we witness or partake in. 90% of the time that you think "this is wrong", it is a gut reaction, not a logical deduction. You might logically justify your emotional response after the fact, or you might logically tell yourself that you are overreacting... but it isn't logic that drives our values.

    I'm not trying to argue that the robot example is moral or immoral, I'm not appealing to anything. What I am saying is that when someone is in that scenario, their immediate reaction should be a visceral feeling or horror. They might be able to pull back and say to themselves "whoah, relax, it is just a robot" (if they were a very pragmatic person), but many people wouldn't even be able to do that, because the emotional response would overwhelm any logical thought.

    Imagining infanticide in a D&D game is nowhere as visceral as the robot example, but the process is still the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Primarily it's bad because people don't agree on whether you should use a consequentialist/utilitarian view or a deontological.

    Add in that consequentialism is *really hard* without the ability to predict the future, and those two result in the vast majority of disputes. (Note that the Good/Evil divide is where the issues typically are, not the Law/Chaos divide, which has much less vigorous arguments, though there are still some grey areas).

    If you start with a deontological viewpoint, and it's explicitly stated "this is how we're doing alignment, even if you disagree with it in the real world", then it works reasonably well.
    Your problem with consequentialism essentially disappears in many (including RAW D&D, take your edition) fantasy settings as they allow divination magic. Presumably the universe (or planes of law/chaos, whatever) can instantly use such magic to determine the alignment of said action and update the PC/NPC/whatever's aura.

    Personally, I think very few fantasy settings can be improved by such morals, but the mechanism for determining them aren't really at issue (until the DM has to retroactively change something that wasn't obvious at the time).

    When V cast the familicide spell, 'e didn't seem to think it was terribly evil, although in the stickverse it was seen as extremely objectively evil by the fiends (and presumably had "evil" tag on the spell). It wasn't until 'e realized that non-dragons were slain as well that the evil of the spell was obvious. V apparently has a consequentialism defined morality (possibly appropriate to a neutral character) in a world with an objective morality. So regardless of how the character thinks of themselves, the consequences of good/evil acts will effect them regardless of the ends.

    For the player, if your build depends on following an alignment you clearly have to follow the setting's idea of how your morality works. For anybody else, this is open to interpretation (although expect to face the consequences). Personally, I am open to anything that kills the "9 possible personality types allowed in D&D" fallacy.

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    Alignment is intrinsic to the planescape setting

    EDIT:
    Furthermore it is consistent with the setting for alignment to be inconsistent and wonky due to the outer planes being shaped by mortal beings' stupid minds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    The 3e book that says that (BOVD), narrows it down a bit - it says that killing a fiend (Outsider with the Evil subtype) is Always Good. It has a bit more nuance for "ordinary" Always Evil creatures like dragons.
    BoVD doesn;t count. Firstly because the general consensus is that the game designers were tripping when they wrote BoVD and BoED and more importantly because it's canon that fiends, and demons especially, spend most of their time killing other fiends; this is apparent in the Fiendish Codices, the Manual of the Planes, and about a dozen Planescape supplements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    I'm not trying to argue that the robot example is moral or immoral, I'm not appealing to anything. What I am saying is that when someone is in that scenario, their immediate reaction should be a visceral feeling or horror. They might be able to pull back and say to themselves "whoah, relax, it is just a robot" (if they were a very pragmatic person), but many people wouldn't even be able to do that, because the emotional response would overwhelm any logical thought.

    Imagining infanticide in a D&D game is nowhere as visceral as the robot example, but the process is still the same.
    In your robot example I react with horror but then again I am human watching what likes a human baby get hit but my reaction may be different if the robot did not look like a human baby. Humans can feel horror and disgust when watching a human baby get hit and feel nothing when a baby animal gets hit

    In D&D Humans , Dwarves , Elves and other races have been at war with Orcs for centuries. Years ago an article was written in dragon magazine issue 89 that dealt with population growth rates of the races and the conflict between Orcs and races isn't just over alignment its about basic biology

    Its short lived quickly maturing Orc vs long living slowing maturing Dwarf or Elf. Orcs start breeding when they are 8 Elves start when they are 100 and dwarfs have the problem of having only one third of babies born being female. Every Orc baby a dwarf lets live now means hundreds they have to fight 20 years from now, can Dwarves really afford to let the Orc babies live? Orcs main advantage is how fast they breed and crush other races by sheer weight on numbers something has to be done to keep their number in check

    Orcs are trying to commit genocide and allowing Orc babies to live makes it easier for Orcs to commit genocide. This can cause major problems for dwarves given their low birth rate. You can make the argument that by refusing to commit genocide against Orcs your helping Orcs commit genocide against dwarves.

    What is the emotional response of an elf or dwarf be when they see an Orc baby get killed? Elves and Dwarves have a right to self defense and what is the alternative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jk7275 View Post
    In your robot example I react with horror but then again I am human watching what likes a human baby get hit but my reaction may be different if the robot did not look like a human baby. Humans can feel horror and disgust when watching a human baby get hit and feel nothing when a baby animal gets hit

    In D&D Humans , Dwarves , Elves and other races have been at war with Orcs for centuries. Years ago an article was written in dragon magazine issue 89 that dealt with population growth rates of the races and the conflict between Orcs and races isn't just over alignment its about basic biology

    Its short lived quickly maturing Orc vs long living slowing maturing Dwarf or Elf. Orcs start breeding when they are 8 Elves start when they are 100 and dwarfs have the problem of having only one third of babies born being female. Every Orc baby a dwarf lets live now means hundreds they have to fight 20 years from now, can Dwarves really afford to let the Orc babies live? Orcs main advantage is how fast they breed and crush other races by sheer weight on numbers something has to be done to keep their number in check

    Orcs are trying to commit genocide and allowing Orc babies to live makes it easier for Orcs to commit genocide. This can cause major problems for dwarves given their low birth rate. You can make the argument that by refusing to commit genocide against Orcs your helping Orcs commit genocide against dwarves.

    What is the emotional response of an elf or dwarf be when they see an Orc baby get killed? Elves and Dwarves have a right to self defense and what is the alternative.
    I am not talking about ďin gameĒ morals. I agree with you that a character could in theory kill evil babies without moral repercussions.

    I am talking about players. We as players should be cautious about playing a game where we discuss infanticide as a good thing. If you stop to think about the actions of your character, it should instinctively make you feel uncomfortable (not your character, you)

    If you were to walk into a room and tell a group of people that you played a game where you killed a bunch of evil babies. Many people in the room would cringe and think you personally are creepy (not the character)

    Now Iím not saying that everyone who plays like this is a sociopath. Iím sure if I had hit this scenario back in my hack and slash D&D days... I might have done the same.

    I wouldnít do it now because I stopped to think about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    If you were to walk into a room and tell a group of people that you played a game where you killed a bunch of evil babies. Many people in the room would cringe and think you personally are creepy (not the character)

    Now Iím not saying that everyone who plays like this is a sociopath. Iím sure if I had hit this scenario back in my hack and slash D&D days... I might have done the same.

    I wouldnít do it now because I stopped to think about it.
    Some people play games like this deliberately. I call them "take your demon out for a walk" games. I have zero interest in them, but some people seem to revel in doing the most screwed up things that they can think of in game.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Some people play games like this deliberately. I call them "take your demon out for a walk" games. I have zero interest in them, but some people seem to revel in doing the most screwed up things that they can think of in game.
    You've never played a game where a PC has leaned around a corner and lobbed a fireball into a room full of Gnolls, only to find out after the fact that it included a bunch of whelps?

    ... despite them being fully aware the the humanoids in the lairs had whelps in them, and specifically giving them chances to get away in previous encounters. But just getting caught up in the moment and not thinking about it in this case.

    Dealing with the "what do we do with evil race's children we find in their lairs" question was a staple in a lot of older D&D modules.

    (Edit: Clearly I missed this is a response to a response to this basic concept. /sigh. Or very slightly different, since I'm talking about it having happened on accident.)
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-01-11 at 03:31 PM.

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