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    Default What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    While mortals can exemplify an alignment, creatures from the Outer Planes personify them. A mortal can have the trait of being, say, Lawful Evil, but a devil is Lawful Evil, that is, it is the fundamental essence of what it means to be Lawful Evil. When someones asks what Lawful Evil is, one can point to a devil, not to say, "This is an example of Lawful Evil," but rather to say, "This is Lawful Evil."

    We argue about what alignments mean for our mortal adventurers, and for them alignment can seem loose and mutable, which is often the cause for those arguments. But for outsiders, alignment becomes much more strict and important. A human, elf, or dwarf can go through a series of experiences that causes them to change their alignment. The experiences can be profound, or traumatic, or enlightening, but it doesn't change the fundamental nature of their being. But if a devil stops being Lawful Evil, they stop being a devil... right?

    A recent thread about how to play an evil character (presumably in a good party) gave me an idea for a PC that is literally a devil (mechanically a tiefling) with a possible redemption arc.

    Long version here.

    Short version:
    Quote Originally Posted by Greywander View Post
    TL;DR, office drone devils screws up, sends souls to the wrong afterlife. As punishment, he becomes essentially a mortal and has to commit seven good deeds to get back into Hell and become a devil again.
    Where this becomes significant, and relevant to the thread title, is here:
    Quote Originally Posted by Greywander View Post
    However, this is more or less a permanent exile, as it is near impossible that any being, no matter how Evil, could commit so many Deeds of True Good without ceasing to be entirely Evil, and even a single such Deed would put one at risk.
    In this particular case, we have a devil who has to do good deeds as a punishment, but is at risk of an alignment shift (probably to Lawful Neutral), which would prevent his return to Hell. At this point, he'd cease being a devil altogether. At least, I think that's what's supposed to happen.

    More broadly, I feel like this probably applies to most outsiders. Celestials have to be Good, and angels in particular seem to be all Lawful Good. If an angel falls to Evil, they become a devil, as with Zariel. Modrons must be Lawful. Slaadi are Chaotic. And so on.

    Alignments might be more tightly enforced for some outsiders than others. But it leave me wonders, what exactly does happen when an outsider, particularly one with stricter alignment enforcement, changes their alignment? In my particular case, he'd probably just remain as a mortal (or immortal) tiefling, retaining but a few shreds of his devilish power.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    I'd say that an Outsider that changes alignment simply has their creature type tag changed if applicable. Other than that, any changes in form or monster stats would have to be on a case by case basis depending on what they were before they changed as well as any unique abilities they had.

    For example, Zariel was an Angel before she fell and became a Devil, but her overall form remains Angelic, her new design even moreso. Baalzebul, the Lord of the 7th layer, has a similar backstory, being an Archon before he fell and became a Devil but still retained his handsome Celestial appearance until he was turned into a giant slug as discipline for a long series of lies and deceptions (according to Mordenkainen, he's recently worked off that punishment).

    Something of note, and possibly undercutting my point above: Fallen Angel =/= Devil or Demon. An Angel can fall and change their alignment to Evil, but unless they went out of their way to join the bureaucracy of Baator or to claim a desmesne in the Abyss for themselves, their creature type would still be Celestial. Creature type change seems to be more linked to a change in environment than a change in alignment, such as Night Hags changing from Fey to Fiends after they were exiled from the Feywild to the Lower Planes. Empyrean are also described as being able to fall into Evil, but still remain Celestials. The various species of Fiends, however, don't have what happens if they change to Neutral or Good explicitly spelt out for them, which is probably where this confusion is coming from.
    Last edited by Constructman; 2019-05-21 at 02:17 AM.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Constructman View Post
    Something of note: Fallen Angel =/= Devil or Demon. An Angel can fall and change their alignment to Evil, but unless they went out of their way to join the bureaucracy of Baator or to claim a desmesne in the Abyss for themselves, their creature type would still be Celestial.
    And perhaps not all fallen angels change their alignment to evil either. Some accept their banishment and become hermits on the Material, which I think likely makes them neutral or a penitent good.

    Kinda how paladins can break their oath without going all the way to the Oathbreaker archetype. Except that would mean leaving the class entirely, whereas fallen angels retain their power.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Another thing that might be complicating this is the fact that devils change forms on the regular as they get promoted through the ranks. A lemure can be promoted to an imp, then to a spined devil, then to a bearded devil, then to a barbed devil, etc. IIRC, demons can also spontaneously change into another type of demon, though I'm less sure about that.

    This does seem to be an issue with devils, specifically, with a bit of angel in there (see again Zariel). For other types of outsiders, it seems like it wouldn't be entirely necessary for them to maintain a strict alignment. However, we're also talking about the Outer Planes, which are very much bound up in alignments. Evil empyreans can exist, but they have to flee the Upper Planes for the Material Plane (or Lower Planes, I suppose).

    I suppose what I'm inferring is that there is some kind of distinction between what we might call a "divine" essence and a "mortal" essence. Mortals are not constrained by alignments, but can freely choose their alignment and change it at will. Essentially, mortals have free will. However, what we might call the "divine" are products of the Outer Planes, and as such are slaves to their alignment. They have no free will, or at least, not in the same way mortals do. A change in alignment is essentially a replacement of that creature's divine essence with a completely different divine essence, which in mortals terms would be similar to having your body taken over by another mind. One could also imagine that a divine being could replace part of their divine essence with mortal essence, giving them a measure of free will while they remain bound to that particular alignment, which is likely how such alignment shifts happen in the first place.

    I don't know, I feel like I'm rambling now.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Most Outsiders who changes alignment turns into an outsider of the corresponding alignment. See the Archdevil Gra'azt becoming the Demon Prince Gra'azt.

    Angels in particular become Fallen Angel, which isn't that different from their angelic form. Some of them can go further and become Fiends.

    Also Modrons might become Rogue Modrons.

    Note that outsiders have free will, too. A Devil isn't compelled to be lawful evil, it *wants* to be, as it's the lawful evilness is the last remains of the soul they're created from. Demons all individually think that they are the one being who has the cosmos gravitate around, giving them free reign for their whims and urges, and such they are chaotic evil. Slaadi pretty much just want to be free and reproduce. And angels continually choose to do the right thing, as indicated by their strong moral compass, unless something goes awire.
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2019-05-21 at 03:22 AM.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greywander View Post
    Another thing that might be complicating this is the fact that devils change forms on the regular as they get promoted through the ranks. A lemure can be promoted to an imp, then to a spined devil, then to a bearded devil, then to a barbed devil, etc. IIRC, demons can also spontaneously change into another type of demon, though I'm less sure about that.
    I picture the Abyss like one of these games where you start as something small, kill other small creatures, flee from the big ones, then suddenly grow larger, allowing you to take on new preys.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I picture the Abyss like one of these games where you start as something small, kill other small creatures, flee from the big ones, then suddenly grow larger, allowing you to take on new preys.
    Basically, except if you get bigger and stronger or not is 100% random.

    And all the maps are randomly generated (unless you're in an are that has been modded by one of the moderators).

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Basically, except if you get bigger and stronger or not is 100% random.
    The MM seems to imply, at the very least, that it takes time.
    Quote Originally Posted by MM p50, Capricious Elevation
    A demon might spawn as a manes, then become a dretch, and eventually transform to a vrock after untold time spent fighting and surviving in the Abyss. Such elevations are rare, however, for most demons are destroyed before they attain significant power.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    The MM seems to imply, at the very least, that it takes time.
    Well, the longer you try, the more you have chances to hit the good result.

    Man, I imagine quite a few demons are envious of the growth mortal adventurers are capable of.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Alignment describes general attitude, not actions. Devils can commit good deeds without ceasing to be evil, but most of the time see no reason to. And devil who commits good deeds to return to Hell may be doing good, but still ultimately for purely selfish reasons.

    What is "a deed of True Good" anyway?

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by JackPhoenix View Post
    Alignment describes general attitude, not actions. Devils can commit good deeds without ceasing to be evil, but most of the time see no reason to. And devil who commits good deeds to return to Hell may be doing good, but still ultimately for purely selfish reasons.
    Indeed.

    Although it describes typical behavior, not general attitude.


    However, if a devil does enough genuinely good deeds it becomes typical of them, they would change alignment to one of the good ones, and such stop being a devil.

    But given that most of the time they see no reason to even do one good deed, one can imagine how alien it'd be for them to make it typical.

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Note that the time frame of actually changing types isn’t spelled out... in previous editions there was sometimes ‘lag time’ where there was a Good Fiend slowly changing into a Celestial; not happening instantly. Also, many (but not all) fallen Celestials/ascended fiends became ‘unique’ rather than a traditional demon type of demon/devil/daemon

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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Well, the longer you try, the more you have chances to hit the good result.

    Man, I imagine quite a few demons are envious of the growth mortal adventurers are capable of.
    A demon trying to get a better shot at power by turning mortal sounds funny and interesting.
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    Default Re: What happens to an outsider that changes alignment?

    Ignoring previous editions and going with 5e contents only, the impression I would get is that any creature can be corrupted into the fiend type.

    Humanoid souls become lemures, larvae and manes. Celestial pegasi can be tortured into nightmares. Night hags used to be fey like other hags. I wouldn't be surprised if an adventure involved a fiendish modron.

    For other conversions, I feel there are few or no clear cut examples. Elves were stripped of their fey nature by Corellon, and some have since reacquired it by living in the Feywild. Does that mean it is typical of the Material and the Feywild to turn creatures into humanoids and fey? Doubtful. Dwarves born on Arcadia have the celestial type. Are they a special batch from Moradin's forge? Are they dead humanoid dwarves who were reborn as celestial dwarves, as might be typical for upper-plane petitioners? No clue.

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