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D&D 5E Charm, the evil spells


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Leaving aside for a moment the case of whether certain charms are evil I'd like to talk about the Enchanter Wizard.

Is pursuing Enchantment as a school specialty evil?

This isn't the Wizard knowing a charm just in case they need to use it. This is the Wizard pursuing mind control as a specialty.

Should Enchanters be seen like Necromancers? Not all Necromancy spells are evil but I'm not going to believe a Necromancer when they say they're not in it for animating corpses.

At least other schools have benign purposes. Transmutation isn't inherently evil or harmful. If you're an enchanter though your whole thing is to go around enchanting people.

Most enchantment and necromancy spells are harmful. I haven't met a Necromancer who only casts Gentle Repose.

I think I'm fine with saying Charms can be a grey area and can be themed and presented in such a way that protagonists are not evil for doing them.

Enchanters though? That seems like an evil profession to pursue.
it depends on how magic research works are they looking into how it works to better understand how to stop it or to use it for greater personal gains one is less likely to adventure than the other?
 

AtomicPope

Adventurer
A big change in D&D was removing the "evil" descriptor from spells. In 1e the use of poison was deemed "evil" and no person regularly using poison could have a good alignment. Necromancy had a stigma. AD&D had always stigmatized Necromancy as "evil" but it wasn't strictly limited to evil alignments like poison use. Second Edition expanded into kit classes that had sinister qualities, but I don't remember them being limited to evil alignments only. It wasn't until 3e where we had good and evil spell descriptors baked into the system. Book of Vile Darkness expanded on that. In 3e the intention of the spell didn't matter, it was the origin of the spell that determined whether or not the spell was evil. That's in-line with the original concept of the Great Wheel Cosmology™, exploring and expanding it.

In some ways I wish we'd get back to those fantasy elements of good and evil being living forces like in Time Bandits. On the other hand, it would limit the way many people want to play D&D so it's probably not the best way to go about doing it. Like with poison use, that in-and-of-itself shouldn't be relegated to evil for all campaigns. Allowing for flexibility is good for the game as a whole.
 

A big change in D&D was removing the "evil" descriptor from spells. In 1e the use of poison was deemed "evil" and no person regularly using poison could have a good alignment. Necromancy had a stigma. AD&D had always stigmatized Necromancy as "evil" but it wasn't strictly limited to evil alignments like poison use. Second Edition expanded into kit classes that had sinister qualities, but I don't remember them being limited to evil alignments only. It wasn't until 3e where we had good and evil spell descriptors baked into the system. Book of Vile Darkness expanded on that. In 3e the intention of the spell didn't matter, it was the origin of the spell that determined whether or not the spell was evil. That's in-line with the original concept of the Great Wheel Cosmology™, exploring and expanding it.

In some ways I wish we'd get back to those fantasy elements of good and evil being living forces like in Time Bandits. On the other hand, it would limit the way many people want to play D&D so it's probably not the best way to go about doing it. Like with poison use, that in-and-of-itself shouldn't be relegated to evil for all campaigns. Allowing for flexibility is good for the game as a whole.
that would require them to dictate what is morally right to people and what if they think something is good that you find utterly wrong? internet wars have likely plus real-world controversy is all but guaranteed.
 

AtomicPope

Adventurer
that would require them to dictate what is morally right to people and what if they think something is good that you find utterly wrong? internet wars have likely plus real-world controversy is all but guaranteed.
Book of Vile Darkness and Book of Exalted Deeds did exactly that, and they were both quite popular and still are among 3e players. Having said that, I'd rather see these as campaign supplements rather than core rules like how 3e had spells with descriptors like good/evil/chaos/law. Putting limits on spells actually enhances a campaign because it delineates boundaries, whether they're magical, cultural, legal, social, economic, or whatever. In fact, the more I think about it the more I'd like to see those kind of supplements published for 5e.
 

Book of Vile Darkness and Book of Exalted Deeds did exactly that, and they were both quite popular and still are among 3e players. Having said that, I'd rather see these as campaign supplements rather than core rules like how 3e had spells with descriptors like good/evil/chaos/law. Putting limits on spells actually enhances a campaign because it delineates boundaries, whether they're magical, cultural, legal, social, economic, or whatever. In fact, the more I think about it the more I'd like to see those kind of supplements published for 5e.
I can see your point but both were bad at said function on was just edge Saturday morning super evil and the other was more lawful good is god with not legally a poison in it to get around that rule, now a book on the forces of good and evil and how to portray them would be my jam.

however, we are in utter agreement on spell limitation as it means you have to honestly think about what you have which is good if you have fallen into too many patterns with your casters, bad for a sit downturn your brain off kinda game but I assume that is inferred
 

And that's why the DM must present creatures that are worth defeating, so you don't end up with 466-post-long discussion whether it's evil to use a particular spell against a creature.

Charming a creature is quite tender-hearted if the alternative is a fireball.
 

HammerMan

Legend
And that's why the DM must present creatures that are worth defeating, so you don't end up with 466-post-long discussion whether it's evil to use a particular spell against a creature.

Charming a creature is quite tender-hearted if the alternative is a firebALL

I can not stress enough that if you go back and reread my OP, I am talking about out of combat uses...
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I can not stress enough that if you go back and reread my OP, I am talking about out of combat uses...
Plenty of people in this thread have been discussing combat uses.

Moreover, the line between the two can be indistinct. Say that there's a guard. A mage charms the guard to allow them entry. Plan B was to simply fireball the guard.

It wasn't a combat, but it avoided what would have otherwise been a combat/execution, so does it or doesn't it qualify as a combat use? I expect that not everyone might agree on the answer, but this isn't meant to propose a definitive answer. It is simply to illustrate that the delineation isn't necessarily as clean as it might seem at first glance.
 

I can not stress enough that if you go back and reread my OP, I am talking about out of combat uses...
Me too. The PCs in the games I DM may try to charm a NPC first, but if that fails they may quickly escalate it to a combat situation, which frequently includes at least one fireball.

And that makes sense, because they are already convinced that they are dealing with a person that needs to be defeated - either in combat or through trickery. Defeat as I meant it does not always include death.

Btw, Charm Person is quite useless in most combat situations. Other enchantments are better though.
 

I recall reading a theory somewhere that the reason poison use was considered evil in D&D at one point is because it was drawing on older depictions of poison as primarily evil because it could be used by peasants to kill members of the upperclass.

Regardless, why is poison inherently evil to use when chucking flames and acid at people isn't?
 

HammerMan

Legend
I recall reading a theory somewhere that the reason poison use was considered evil in D&D at one point is because it was drawing on older depictions of poison as primarily evil because it could be used by peasants to kill members of the upperclass.

Regardless, why is poison inherently evil to use when chucking flames and acid at people isn't?
that is great, and I can see it...
 

I recall reading a theory somewhere that the reason poison use was considered evil in D&D at one point is because it was drawing on older depictions of poison as primarily evil because it could be used by peasants to kill members of the upperclass.

Regardless, why is poison inherently evil to use when chucking flames and acid at people isn't?
so it is more a non-lawful thing?
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I recall reading a theory somewhere that the reason poison use was considered evil in D&D at one point is because it was drawing on older depictions of poison as primarily evil because it could be used by peasants to kill members of the upperclass.

Regardless, why is poison inherently evil to use when chucking flames and acid at people isn't?
Poison was almost entirely save-or-die in 1e, IIRC.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Poison was almost entirely save-or-die in 1e, IIRC.
Sure, but there were plenty of spells, like Disintegrate, that were SoD but not explicitly evil. My guess would be poison was "evil" to keep SoD out of the hands of low level characters. Also, probably because Gygax didn't want every non-undead dungeon to be "solved" by poisoning the water supply.
 



Vaalingrade

Legend
if you think the 90's were bad for dark characters I would hate to see what you think of the 2000's
The 2000s was a rollercoaster, rapidly swerving between reconstruction and celebrating the joy and glory of heroes and then jackknifing into heroes fighting heroes, cannibalism, child murder, and just a general drunken bender of trying hard to be the ultimate pizza cutter (all edge, no point.).

But somehow the 90's were still worse just based on the shear saturation of of the dark and edgy stuff. Nothing was safe or unsullied. Throughout the 2000s, there were plenty of arcs and runs that were a safe haven at least for a time. Like when New Mutants: Academy X changed hands and when from a great book to 'We don't know what do do with these characters, so we literally blew up 23 child characters on a bus that was leaving the book forever in the first place.

Kind of depends on if you prefer living in the post-apocalyptical wasteland hiding from mutants and drinking sewage, or actively dodging the meteors but there's still canned food.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Sure, but there were plenty of spells, like Disintegrate, that were SoD but not explicitly evil. My guess would be poison was "evil" to keep SoD out of the hands of low level characters. Also, probably because Gygax didn't want every non-undead dungeon to be "solved" by poisoning the water supply.
True. Of course, only rare, certain people could use disintegrate and similar spells, while anyone could use poison (even if they risked poisoning themselves--Gygax really didn't want people to use it).

It was probably a combination of Gygax et al not wanting to PCs to solve every problem with poison, the SoD thing that everyone could use, and belief that "poison is a coward's tool!" that led to poison being evil.
 


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