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Discussion: Can Good Aligned Characters Cast Spells With The Evil Descriptor?

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#21 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 10:51 AM

I think the "evil" descriptor is there in order to clearly establish what is "good" and what is "evil".
 
While there are still grey areas, which are not so easy to clear, this at least gives some form of constant framework. Magic seems to distinguish between some form of values which we have arbitrarily called these names (see items that work differently for different alignments).


Which is explained with a moderate amount of handwavium, and the fact that in the D&D multiverse, gods are real, and so are devils, angels, demons etc. The powers of Good and Evil have their own dimensions, they affect the world much like gravity or electromagnetism; it's not just a matter of moral ambiguity when your fully quantised Good/Evil binary state can be determined by any passing Paladin.
 

Philosophically however, I think the alignment system is utter garbage.


Also true. :)

On a related note, how about playing a Summoner whose Eidolon has an Undead Appearance? There's nothing in the rules about any alignment requirements to do this, and it would make for an interesting character - instead of a Necromancer who's animating an army of corpses, you could play a character with a single (but increasingly powerful, as you level up) undead bodyguard.

Heck, if the GM could be persuaded to allow some minor tinkering, you could even replace the Summon Monster spells and related powers from the vanilla Summoner class, with equivalent Summon Undead spells. (Normally, Summon Undead has the Evil descriptor, just like Animate etc. - but if you wanted to stick to Hal's suggestion of using undead animals, and the GM is willing to permit it, you might be able to impose a restriction on the spell that makes it non-Evil, but you can only summon undead animals.)

PS: Hello, @Nick T. Vegan! Welcome to the site. :)

 


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#22 Dungnmaster001

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 01:41 PM


On a related note, how about playing a Summoner whose Eidolon has an Undead Appearance? There's nothing in the rules about any alignment requirements to do this, and it would make for an interesting character - instead of a Necromancer who's animating an army of corpses, you could play a character with a single (but increasingly powerful, as you level up) undead bodyguard.

Heck, if the GM could be persuaded to allow some minor tinkering, you could even replace the Summon Monster spells and related powers from the vanilla Summoner class, with equivalent Summon Undead spells.

 

 

 

Actually there's a feat (srd attributes it to Ultimate Magic) called skeleton summoner that adds a couple skeletons to Summon Monster 1 and 3, and allows 1/day summoning a skeletal version of any of the existing choices. No alignment restrictions mentioned and only requires spell focus necromancy and the ability to cast summon monster. Would work with either summoner or a regular caster.


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#23 Daniel

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 06:24 PM

Sorry to be a bit of a Threadromancer, but when this conversation was running my mind went back to ol' AD&D's Complete Book of Necromancers but at the time I didn't realize I had the book sitting happily on my roleplaying shelf and cba to download a copy.  Now, looking for my AD&D PHB I stumbled on it so figured I'd throw in my two-cents.

 

On page 46, the CBO Necrobros has this to say...

 

 

Even good-hearted PCs may be tempted to use the forbidden lore, considering that many necromantic spells can be quite powerful, especially at high levels.  Is a spell inherently evil, or is it simply that it can be put to evil use?  This is a question many heroes will have to struggle with.  This ambivalence and uncertainty should be encouraged, since temptation and moral quandaries make for excellent role playing.  However ... the use of criminal necromancy carries grave dangers for the caster, whether villain or player character.  While the consequences for employing black necromancy must always be kept vague and nebulous for the players, the DM needs to have a clear definition and justification of the term.

- Complete Book of Necromancers, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd edition).  Chapter 4, page 46.

 

Chapter 3 is all about the prices characters pay when using the blackest arts.  This is the direction I would take with spells with the Evil descriptor.  I would happily allow good characters to use them, however I would turn it into a roleplay experience.  Focusing on the temptation of the character and encouraging personal-conflict.  Hell, being me, if I gave the party wizard access to a book of arcane ebilness I would totally have the temptation be a constant roleplaying experience.  Have the character wake up, from a nightmare, only to find themselves clutching the tome.  When in a dire situation, calmly tell the player that their character could totally do x, y & z to save the party by using the spells found in the tome.  And so forth.

 

Essentially, treating it like a cursed item, but without the mechanical nonsense.  A lot of players will try and take the easy route to power and thats where the CBO Necrobros comes into it.  I honestly recommend people to give it a look as chapter 3 is a gold mine of ideas.


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#24 Slartibartfast

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 04:58 AM


Essentially, treating it like a cursed item, but without the mechanical nonsense.  A lot of players will try and take the easy route to power and thats where the CBO Necrobros comes into it.  I honestly recommend people to give it a look as chapter 3 is a gold mine of ideas.

 

An excellent idea, and the CBO ... sounds like it has some neat ideas.

 

:mage:


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#25 Daniel

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 05:21 AM

It definitely does.  I'll be honest its my favourite of the CBOs to the point I even ended up half-inching one of the example NPCs from the back of it for Tropis: The Lady-Doctor Ellandra Tolbert.


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#26 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 05:41 AM

Sorry to be a bit of a Threadromancer


*Glances at time stamps* Two weeks' delay counts as Threadomancy, now? :O Sounds like another topic for the debate forum: Can Good-Aligned Characters Post In A Thread That's A Fortnight Old? ;)


Chapter 3 is all about the prices characters pay when using the blackest arts. This is the direction I would take with spells with the Evil descriptor. I would happily allow good characters to use them, however I would turn it into a roleplay experience. Focusing on the temptation of the character and encouraging personal-conflict. Hell, being me, if I gave the party wizard access to a book of arcane ebilness I would totally have the temptation be a constant roleplaying experience. Have the character wake up, from a nightmare, only to find themselves clutching the tome. When in a dire situation, calmly tell the player that their character could totally do x, y & z to save the party by using the spells found in the tome. And so forth.

[...]

A lot of players will try and take the easy route to power and thats where the CBO Necrobros comes into it. I honestly recommend people to give it a look as chapter 3 is a gold mine of ideas.


2011-12-26-TESB%2520080.jpg



[...] the use of criminal necromancy carries grave dangers [...]


Pun intended? ;)
 

Hell, being me, if I gave the party wizard access to a book of arcane ebilness I would totally have the temptation be a constant roleplaying experience.


Just like in World's Largest Dungeon, where
Spoiler

 

It definitely does. I'll be honest its my favourite of the CBOs to the point I even ended up half-inching one of the example NPCs from the back of it for Tropis: The Lady-Doctor Ellandra Tolbert.


Her description is also fairly reminescent of several of the characters from the PantsLoft Halloween Speshul. :)
 

Background: Ellandra was born into one of the noble houses of Neverwinter. Her father was a famous Anatomist, and as a child she assisted him in his dissections. When she was 13, a disgruntled serf burned the Tolbert Estate to the ground Only Ellandra survived, but her face was badly burned in the inferno. After that disaster, she resolved to continue her father's research, eventually joining the Anatomical Academy. At first, Ellandra focused her research on curing — or at least hiding — the horrible burns on her face She first developed false face for that purpose. As her power grew, she learned how to graft flesh from a cadaver onto her own scarred face, conceal¬ing her deformity.
Today she still maintains a grafted face, and her skill with the Art enables her to blend the corpse flesh with her own skin exactly. She continually fortifies this disguise with multiple overlapping spells, so that it cannot be undone all at once by a single lucky dispel magic. Ellandra has maintained this "disguise" for years.
Her former husband, Gerard Anterra, was a famous sea captain and privateer, but he tragically died in action off Nelather more than five years ago. His body was never recovered, and Ellandra was plunged into deep depression. After Gerard's death, Ellandra devoted her life to the Academy. Ellandra now labors exhaustively at her research, secretly trying to find a way to bring her husband permanently back from the dead.
Her close friend and confidante. Mistress Yola (detailed in her own NPC sheet), has recently cultivated a mild cruel streak in Ellandra. Even though Ellandra does not follow her friend's fanatical religious views, she still regards Yola as a trusted ally.


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#27 Tulty

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 03:41 PM

To throw in my two cents, in the 3.5 game I'm currently running, one of my PCs is playing a necromancer. He insists his character is chaotic neutral and in a way I can see where he's coming from in that his actions are not diabolical.

However, there are big reasons that I'm considering pulling him up on the moral ramifications of his actions (ie sprinkling silver dust and setting up an evil shrine at the drop of a hat to resurrect more powerful undead from his enemies).

Firstly, in the world in which our game takes place, Necromancy is hated. Technically, it doesn't harm the souls of the dead, as I've ruled that animating dead is simply infusing corpses with negative energy. But the stigma surrounding desecrating corpses, and just the undead in general, has caused some friction amongst the PCs. Hell, it once culminated in a fight which led to the necromancer's Zombie Blackscale Lizardfolk killing two of them!

Secondly, the odd approach his character takes to the undead. Whereas one might see the walking dead as tools, his character forms a protective manner to everything he raises, to the point that he'll sometimes prioritise his zombies over the welfare of the rest of the Party! Any attack on them is interpreted as a deep deep slight, and has also often skirted close to violence.

Finally, however, there's his underlying motives. It's his claim time and time again that be only raises the dead because he has to, but it's abundantly clear to all that power is his driving goal; specifically, the most powerful undead he can control, which will protect and support him in combat. The distinct impression is that as soon as he achieves this, he will turn on his teammates. :D

Basically, there's a player-character bleed. He, as a player, firmly believes that the D&D alignment system shouldn't apply to him, because it's flawed. It is, but the other players are prepared to play within it. :)

I'm thinking more if a tilt towards full evil might be forthcoming!


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#28 Daniel

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 04:11 PM

Ah d&d alignment. Might have to write an opinion piece on that when I wake up...
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#29 Hal

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 06:21 PM

ehp4a.jpg


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#30 Slartibartfast

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 06:04 AM

Before that happens ...

 

To throw in my two cents, in the 3.5 game I'm currently running, one of my PCs is playing a necromancer. He insists his character is chaotic neutral and in a way I can see where he's coming from in that his actions are not diabolical.
[...]

Firstly, in the world in which our game takes place, Necromancy is hated.

 

[...]

Basically, there's a player-character bleed. He, as a player, firmly believes that the D&D alignment system shouldn't apply to him, because it's flawed. It is, but the other players are prepared to play within it. :)

I'm thinking more if a tilt towards full evil might be forthcoming!

 

So he doesn't believe in the alignment system but he insists he is Chaotic Neutral?  Hummm ...

 

Perhaps speak to the other players about how happy they are with this necromancer, if it is a hated practice in the land, considering what he is doing.  Additionally what are NPC responses to him likely to be when it gets out that he is a necromancer?  Might he have to be VERY careful to pull that kind of stuff around clerics.  Are townsfolks going to let him into the city if he has a rep as someone who can raise wights? 

 

What? The milk's sour again?  It's been the same every day since that group of murder-hobos and the gentleman in the black robes with the skull-capped pimp-stick rolled into town.  Someone should do something...

 

How is the fabric of reality going to hold up to all these Evil shrines all over the shop?  That's the kind of thing fanatical orders of mega scary Nazi-paladins are despatched to deal with isn't it?

 

However a necromancer is played - I think it might be a good idea to look at the way everyone else is going to respond to a 'non-evil' necromancer.


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#31 Daniel

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 06:12 AM

...that group of murder-hobos...

 

I am so stealing that term!


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#32 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 06:40 AM

I am so stealing that term!

 

Now available in both tabletop and videogame flavors! :) Along with a metric buttload of anecdotes, such as this thread on Reddit.
 


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#33 bodhranist

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 06:46 AM

I am so stealing that term!

 

I don't think it counts as stealing if it's just lying there in the street.


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#34 bodhranist

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 06:51 AM

I don't think it counts as stealing if it's just lying there in the street.

 

Although then I have to quote James Nicoll, RPG store owner and usenet poster (and not Neil Gaiman, Mark Twain, or some other misattribution I've seen):

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.


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#35 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 07:48 AM

Couple of years ago, someone was even sufficiently inspired by the term 'Murder-Hobo' to Kickstart an entirely new RPG about it. :)

hotr_name_badge.jpg
 


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#36 Slartibartfast

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 03:42 PM

I am so stealing that term!

 

Feel free it is a fitting phrase for some PC groups...  Again I suppose it links into what I was saying about how NPCs view PCs ;)


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#37 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 05:31 AM

Just stumbled across the description of the Dirge Bard, and it seems like a viable option for players who want to play a non-Evil Necromancer-type character, as long as you're willing to settle for a class that's got the Necromancer flavor with (almost) none of the Necromantic calories. (Necromonger Light, if you will).
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#38 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 04 December 2014 - 10:18 AM

Saw this in a Reddit thread about the concept of non-evil Necromancers:

dHI6gZj.png


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#39 Hal

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Posted 04 December 2014 - 11:13 AM

Nice one :)

 

Now if he had used animals instead of sentient corpses he might be succeeded :P

 

Hal :hal:


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#40 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 03:14 AM

Speaking of alignment:

tumblr_nhor15w5He1rhk9zpo1_1280.png

And:

tumblr_niigr3rVPu1rr5e77o1_400.png
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