D&D 5E The Multiverse is back....

pemerton

Legend
Some view order as a thing that produces good, some view liberty as a thing that produces good
As I said, that's not in dispute. But that's a statement about various people's beliefs. It's not a statement about cosmological forces or about moral truth. If you had to file that statement under the Dewey decmial system, it would go under "biography", not under "ultimate metaphysical reality".

Since evil exists in the multiverse, good hasn't "won," so they're clearly imperfect in some way.
I don't think this addresses my point. If all the evil people were converted to LG, then the lower planes would cease to be. Likewise if they were all converted to NG. Likewise if they were all converted to CG. There is nothing to choose between the different good alignments, in so far as eradication of evil is concerned.

Both can produce good. But what that spell doesn't tell you is which good is the BETTER good, which one will more properly eradicate evil, which one is more sustainable or effective, which one is higher than the other.
This is the bit which, to me, makes no sense.

The Seven Heavens is the plane of ultimate lawful goodness. It is already free of evil. As long as its denizens keep doing whatever they have done so far to render it the ultimate plane of lawful goodness, it will be free of evil.

And the same is true of Olympus (but substituting chaos for law).

There is also a puzzle in the notion of "the better good". Given that "better" is equivalent to "more good", the notion is equivalent to "the good that is more good". Well, neither is "more good", at least if I believe the Know Alignment spells, Detect Good spells, the effects of a Holy Word spell, etc.

This is why I asked [MENTION=509]Viking Bastard[/MENTION] about the status of cosmological good in his campaign - because the standard D&D cosmological setup doesn't make room for the concept of "the so-called good which is really good", because the "so-called" good is the same thing, sitting on its own axis, whether it is associated with LG, NG or CG.

If you want to say that "good" in LG means something different from "good" in CG, then you have to abaondon the notion of a single good-evil axis. (The same, mutatis mutandis, would apply to "lawful" as it figures in LG and LE.)

As I hope I've made clear, I have no inherent objection to that. But I don't see how it fits with the D&D notion of two axes, each independent of the other. Because it asserts that the nature of good (or evil) is not independent of its association with law (or chaos).

The function of the alignment system as an arbiter of cosmological truth is part of what PS explicitly calls into question (along with most other arbiters of cosmological truth). "Good is good because it's good" is fine for a lot of fantasy settings, but PS wants to know what MAKES it good, and asking that question shakes the foundational assumption. PS's answer to that (a sort of "because most people agree on that being the case" democracy) makes it clear that those who shape others' beliefs shape the reality they inhabit. Celestia is only "lawful good" by general agreement. Paladins only detect as good because of that agreement. If a PC decides that all this purity and virtue isn't so good after all, they change the planes via their actions in convincing others of the truth of their beliefs. A PS player can literally strip every paladin in existence of their claims to righteousness if they decide that such righteousness is fundamentally flawed and prove it through play. Which is something, of course, that every paladin would fight.
This is another instance of what I have trouble making sense of. What would be the difference between wiping out all the paladins because you thing they're wrong about goodness, and the triumph of evil. How does a Planescape protagonist who thinks "all this purity and virtue isn't so good after all" differ from a NE or CE daemon/demon?

I didn't drop them, as this was PS, where they aren't objective. Which I think I and other posters keep trying to explain. PS makes a big deal out of Primers being wrong and pig-headed in their objective thinking.

In PS, that it's all relative, is the point.
I understand how various types of moral relativism can in-principle be framed. But I don't see how moral relativism is to be integrated with the treatment of "good" and, even moreso, "evil", as descriptors in the way that the D&D alignment system (in its 9-point/Great Wheel form) does. (And Planescape, too, at least as I have encountered it.)
 

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Hussar

Legend
What if we make it a LG society that "reeducates" (brainwashes) those convicted of repeated criminal acts? And a CG society that gives citizens every opportunity to gainfully employ themselves, but won't help you one cent if you don't take those opportunities? Those societies would be good-ish. At least they'd consider themselves so. Certainly they'd seem way to extreme in the L-C axis to be borne by those on the other end.

But, "won't help you one cent" is not a tenet of good. Good is all about altruism and helping others - says so right there in the descriptions of good. A chaotic society that is so chaotic that it is no longer altruistic isn't good anymore. Now, re-educating repeat offenders might be a bit of a different story. You can certainly make the "greater good" argument here. But, again, because it's a LG society, that's going to be a final option, not a first option. And, because repeat offenders generally aren't more than a small minority in a society, generally isn't going to make a large difference.

Then again, the ideas of incarceration and rehabilitation are pretty modern concepts as well. Medieval societies tended to be a bit more direct with crime and punishment. :D
 

Hussar

Legend
Since I don't know that much about Planescape canon, do they actually do this in the setting? Do they actually have CG forces wiping out groups of paladins because they don't agree with the paladin's version of good? Do forces from Olympus invade Elysium and slaughter the people they find there in order to create a "More perfect good"?

I mean, that's what demons and devils do in the Blood War, right? Either side invades the other side and tries to kill everything so that the "More perfect evil" triumphs. At least, that's my pretty unnuanced understanding. But, I've never seen the Good side of Planescape start doing the same thing. Do LG forces team up with LE forces to forcibly convert CG forces?
 

pemerton

Legend
what do people functionally mean in play by a "sense of wonder and majesty of the planes"? I mean, what mechanics or events in play convey that sense of wonder and majesty?

When I think about that, I think about things like, say, the fact that the PC's can go explore the husks of dead gods. There's majesty (DEAD. FRICKIN. GODS.), there's wonder (they leave bodies just drifting around?! What is?!), it's not something that is easily possible in other settings.
The only time I used a dead god as a major campaign element was in a Rolemaster Oriental Adventures game, after buying and reading Monte Cook's Requiem for a God.

The dead god manifested in multiple ways. His stony body, kneeling on the ocean floor, formed an island with the crown of his head, that was a source of eldritch power available for exploitation. (This same campaign also used the Freeport trilogy of adventures, and this island was the one on which the lighthouse was being constructed.)

When the dead god's eyes opened, voidal creatures like octobats and kraken drakes flew out of them.

The dead god also manifested in spiritual fragments on the astral plane - where the PCs would go to travel in dreams or talk with spirits - and had a habit of possessing the paladin PC. It was from these events of possession that the PCs learned that the god was trapped in an endless combat with a dark being on the void, and that this was the cause (i) of the voidal energies surging through his dead body on the mortal world), and (ii) the madness of his sprit shards.

The culmination of the campaign involved the PCs travelling to the void, tempoarily defeating the dark being so that they could extract the dead god, and substituting a new combatant to carry on the endless fight that would keep the world safe. Initially the paladin PC was prepared to sacrifice himself by taking on this role, but then the players came up with a plan whereby they could use a dangerous artefact to create a karmic duplicate of the paladin and send it in instead. Which left the paladin free to starte his monastery for training future warrior monks, located on the now-cleansed lighthouse-tower that had been constructed on the head of the dead god's body.

For me, majesty and wonder is mosty about the role a setting element plays in the unfolding play of the game.
 

Nivenus

First Post
Just a subtle point here: it's also possible that those other principles are, for Lawful or Chaotic characters, prerequisites for those traits agreed upon as Good. An LG character might see the true benefit of Charity as being impossible to realize without organized, systemic, procedural elimination of poverty by well-proven methods applied fairly and equitably to all. A CG char might look at the same principle of Charity and say that without that gift being voluntary and personal, it has little meaning or relevance to the giver. An NG character might say that Charity is Charity, and it doesn't depend on any other traits to be truly realized, that both instances are good and that neither should be eliminated (even if that sounds like milquetoast concessionism to the LG and CG folks).

That's not necessarily the view, but it's another possibility, alongside "of equal or greater importance."

That's a good point and well-worth mentioning. I think that also ties back into what ThirdWizard mentioned that from a LG or CG character's perspective, law or chaos don't "corrupt" good but "temper" it.

At the same time, I think it's also true that a lot of LG characters believe undisciplined kindness is ultimately prone to failure in the "real world" and that CG characters believe compassion that doesn't validate individuality is ultimately self-denying and oppressive.

It might be argued that the non-violence of the good planes is as much a cold war as the Blood War is a hot war. The Archons ("stuffy elitists") and the Eladrin ("hedonistic children") and the Guardinals ("dudley do-nothings") and even perhaps the Animal Lords ("self-interested beasts, really") really do hate each other, but they work against each other by highlighting the flaws of the other, not willing to risk all those good lives in outright violence. Where a tyrant rears its head, an Eladrin might be present for revolution...and an Archon might be present for a new king. And both recognize that either one of them is better than that devil the vizier has been talking to.

"Hate" is too strong a word, I think, since it's kind of antithetical to D&D's conception of good. But it does seem to me the attitudes you describe are probably quite accurate and that each celestial race likely "disapproves of" each of the others to some degree. The fact that the celestial races don't war with one another and aren't particularly likely to doesn't mean they don't have their rows or disagreements: the Olympians in Greek mythology have very frequent and violent disagreements, but none of them have ever tried to slay one another. It is likely the archons, eladrin, and guardinals do come into conflict every now and then, but because of their nature as essentially good creatures, it rarely (if ever) results in open warfare.

Alternatively, if you take the view that human wellbeing is best realised on Elysium - a view of the planes that I do not think is canonical, but I can see how some disagree - then both the LG and the CG person should recognise their error, and join Moorcock in affirming that too much order, and too much chaos, are both inimical to human wellbeing.

Again though, I think it's perfectly valid for three separate individuals to have equally accurate perceptions of what sapient well-being means. Different people want different things. One person may be happiest in a world where everyone goes to the same temple, worships the same gods, and happily obeys laws which promote peace and stability. Another person may seem that very same utopia and recoil with horror at it. The fact of the matter is that not everyone desires the same things, so there is no universal state of human well-being: it varies from person to person.

You disagree that the Law/Chaos axis is incoherent? Well then. Describe for me, let's say, "a chaotic act" (which paladins used to be penalized for, recall) without any reference to good or evil. No fair smuggling in words like 'ought'! That's a moral category, after all, that's used precisely to delineate goodness!

I actually already noted some examples earlier, but I'll add a few others.

Chaotic (but arguably non-evil) acts: stealing to feed one's self but not to feed others (good) or to do harm (evil), breaking a contract because it was inconvenient to you, disobeying orders because you disagree with them, avoiding law enforcement even when you've committed no crime because you distrust authority figures, destroying government property, etc.

Lawful (but arguably non-evil) acts: deferring to authority figures by default because they're your superiors, committing suicide in order to restore lost honor, issuing a judgment based not on sympathy (good) or antipathy (evil) but on a strict examination of the law, sticking to a contract even when it is clear it is no longer advantageous to one or all parties, enforcing a law you don't even necessarily agree with because it is the law, etc.

In the end, 'Law' and 'Chaos' are a grab-bag of unrelated concepts that are lumped together Because Gary Said So, and because Gamer Tradition Hath Hallowed Them. Like, 'entropy' and 'love of liberty' are both associated with 'Chaos' in different degrees by different people, even though they have nothing at all to do with each other!

D&D chaos in its temporal form emphasizes diversity of form and individual expression, often to the detriment of stability and tradition; at its cosmological extreme (to a point beyond which mortals can actually manifest) this leads to entropy and volatile unpredictability. D&D order in its temporal form emphasizes stability and tradition, often to the detriment of diversity and individual expression; at its cosmological extreme this leads to stagnation and stasis.

I'll grant you few real-life anarchist are likely to espouse a love for complete and utter chaos or utterly unyielding order, but few people are likely to be completely and unconditionally good or evil either. It's a stretch, but it's not an unbridgeable gap.

And here's another example. Robin Hood is pretty much the archetypical example of 'Chaotic Good', right? What is it that makes him Chaotic? Apparently that he's a rebel against the established social order.

Yet why is he a rebel against the established social order? In the story, it's because King John is a wicked king who has unjustly dispossessed him, outlawed him, and oppressed the people. Robin isn't hanging out in the woods because he likes the free country life, that's for sure! (I doubt most peasants feel very 'free' in their subsistence farming, either...)

Actually, while I'd agree with you that most modern versions of Robin Hood are more accurately described as neutral or even lawful good, that's not true of the original folk hero. The hero who rebelled against Prince John for illegally usurping his brother and dispossessing him of his rightful property is largely an invention of Sir Walter Scott in the novel Ivanhoe, although elements of his depiction are found in earlier (but still derivative) tales.

The earliest stories of Robin Hood actually paint him as a much rougher and subversive character than the one we're familiar with today, who neither fights for the lost crown of King Richard nor even necessarily for the good of the poor (although he seems inclined to sporadic and occasional acts of charity). Instead, he's a bandit yeoman whose heroism comes less from his good deeds or his noble birth (he's a free man but not an aristocrat) than his spectacular feats of skill. He may be chaotic good or her may be chaotic neutral, but he's definitely not the deposed earl later stories depict him as.

Diverging from the alignment discussion...

One of the criticisms of Planescape's interpretation of the D&D Multiverse, which @The Shadow gave well thought out voice to, is that there is a jaded attitude implicit and encouraged in its approach to the wonders of the planes.

While that element is certainly there in the core books, I don't think it is meant to sacrifice the players' sense of wonder on the altar of aesthetics/high concept. Recently I ran a poll in which 66% of respondents (43/65) voted that sense of wonder and majesty of the planes is integral to the Planescape "feel."

So clearly there's more going on than meets the eye.

Well said. I believe I actually said something along these lines earlier in the thread, although I don't think it got much traction at the time.

Ah yes, here it is:

Actually, I'm going to have to disagree with some of the other Planescape fans here and say that I actually don't think the jaded and casual attitude of planar inhabitants clash with the idea of the planes as awe-inspiring and wondrous.

To me, there's nothing that says that a setting can't simultaneously be mundane and wondrous, depending on the context. Explaining something or repeated exposure to it does, to some degree produce a casualness in one's attitude to it, but that doesn't necessarily make it any less wondrous in of itself. Indeed, sometimes knowing the explanation makes things seem even stranger. Take real-life physics. The idea of the star as a massive globe of burning hydrogen whose structural integrity is maintained by a delicate balance the outward push of its own heat and the inward pull of its gravity is (in my eyes at least) a lot more wondrous than a flaming chariot that crosses the sky. Quantum physics is a lot weirder than probably anyone imagined the sub-molecular world would turn out to be. And so on.

Likewise, while some people in Planescape (namely, the urban inhabitants of Sigil) are fairly jaded about the world they live in that doesn't actually mean that the world they live in isn't actually wondrous, anymore than the existence of cynics in our world means the same thing. There's also plenty of people - best represented by the Factions - who have a much more mystical view of the world and the multiverse is filled with its own plentiful share of mystery. Planescape is still at it's core about a multiverse filled with infinite planes with strange geographies shaped by the collective beliefs of countless beings on innumerable worlds, some of which are inhabited by the souls of the dead, gods, and physical embodiments of good, evil, law, and chaos. The contradictions and paradoxes of Planescape - including the fact that some of the multiverse's inhabitants are jaded to the wonder around them - are part of what makes it wondrous, in my eye, more so than the comparatively simple structure of the World Axis.

Of course this is all very subjective and depends a lot on one's personal preference, so I'm not really trying to convince anyone else. But in my opinion, the fact that some people (namely those most exposed to the nature of the multiverse) are somewhat jaded about the planes doesn't subtract from their intrinsic wonder.

So there you are.

At least in PS, all of these things have their origins in some validity. I am fond, for instance, of this interpretation of how each alignment sees itself. While I wouldn't necessarily claim it is authentic or canon or anything, I find it very much informs how I approach the alignments in D&D, and is a very thoughtful treatment on how one would "realistically" play these alignments (which are little more than short-hand for heroic and villainous archetypes, functionally).

I also like that particular reading of the nine-point system although, as you say, it's not really precisely canonical (even if it does draw on canon sources).
 
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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
A good society would never do any of these things because these things are evil. Charity is an integral part of good - it's called out as such - so letting people starve wouldn't happen in a good society.

People starve in every society! Being Good is no insurance against famine, crop destruction, angry druids, whatnot. Human misery happens in CG societies, and a CG society that gives and gives and gives until there's nothing left would still have those who are hungry and those who are excluded. A CG society defines its CG-itude by acting in accordance with those principles, which can mean that Charity only has value when it is the freely chosen action of an individual. Which means that, inevitably, some folks will not choose that Charity at all times. Which means some people will go hungry. Which is something, say, a Good tax structure could stop. But such a tax structure would be seen as less good for a CG society, since it would be a corruption of individual freedom which a CG society believes will lead to the greatest good. People dieing doesn't make the society not Good.

This is the kind of thing Planescape wants to explore. The PC's get to determine if this CG society is something they agree with ("The solution to people starving isn't taxes, it's such abundance that Charity is freely given by all! Don't worry about the grousing politician, there is a druid from Elysium who will help improve your fields once I get the MacGuffin for her."), or not ("I am not helping that jerk druid get her MacGuffin. No, you spoiled children will learn to share, and I'm here to make sure you do it"), or if there's maybe a third way ("Maybe your society needs to embrace the truth of the Doomguard and learn to waste away happily!").

Hussar said:
Forced coercion in the form of brainwashing and re-conditioning are evil acts. Hardly acts of mercy or forgiveness or even justice if we get right down to it.

The point is there's room for reasonable debate. Coercion and brainwashing are just education, really. The right training can make people happy to give up their independent rights to honor some greater social commitment. Is it an unacceptable infringement on human freedoms to make people do what is good for them? To make them happy doing it? To turn them into model citizens, though it will be hard and they will protest? I mean, do you let your kid put their finger in the socket because you respect their autonomy or do you STOP them?

Planescape is also interested in questions like this. The PC's get to determine if the prisons that rehabilitate prisoners with psychological conditioning are instruments for Good ("They complain now, but they won't be complaining when their family comes to their aid. We are their family now. People who once had no cause to belong to, no reason not to stab and kill each other, are now part of the most righteous cause in the world: The Harmonium!"), instruments for Not-So-Good ("People make bad decisions, and they pay the price for it, but they get to make those decisions, and it is wrong to take those choices from them!"), or perhaps a third option ("Crime? Punishment? For what purpose? Your great society will be washed away and replaced by another, and on and on until the infinite sands of time are exhausted. Do you really think you're building something of any lasting value here, or are you just massaging your ego?").

PS wants your characters to engage and confront those debates in play. What defines Good is your PCs, because your characters change the multiverse by their actions according to their convictions.

If there's no difference in the actions between opposite alignments, then what's the point of having opposite alignments? To me, this is incoherent. You can't have good societies that mind wipe people who disagree with you - that's evil. You can't have good societies that allow people to starve in the streets - that's evil.

What you're not appreciating is the subjectivity. You say "that's evil" like this is just accepted and universal and declared to be true. But Planescape doesn't have universal declarative truths. "That's evil" in PS is always a statement of subjective opinion from the characters, a conviction that they have that others might not have. It's evil for the character who is fighting to destroy it, but it's good for the character who is fighting to preserve it, and any of those characters are viable PS characters.

It's not incoherent, it's subjective. It can be both and neither depending upon the perspective of the viewer. What is "good" is rather explicitly just "what is generally agreed to be good," and PS characters shape that general agreement by their actions.

And, the thing is, even if you do have a society that does do these things, it's fairly easy to check if they are good or evil. If the acts are good, then, it should always be good to mind wipe people to believe what you believe. Why wouldn't chaotic good societies start doing the same? After all, these are good acts so, why would a CG society not also do them?

Because "good" isn't just one thing. It's multi-faceted, multitudinous, and, again, subjective.

In Planescape, this concept is called "The Center of All." It's a geographical statement (in an infinite multiverse, there is no real "center," so where a person stands is the center of their own multiverse), which means in Planescape that it's also a philosophical statement about the setting (wherever you stand in an argument is the center of your own world, but other people have their own centers as well, and because the ideology is infinite, there's no true objective standpoint from which to measure all things).

Yes, this means D&D alignment isn't being used how D&D alignment is usually used. You can detect evil on that every one of those re-educators and you know they will ping based on general public opinion, not on any intrinsic trait of their action. That belief shapes the planes is foundational to the setting, so it can't really be the other way around.

Hussar said:
Since I don't know that much about Planescape canon, do they actually do this in the setting? Do they actually have CG forces wiping out groups of paladins because they don't agree with the paladin's version of good? Do forces from Olympus invade Elysium and slaughter the people they find there in order to create a "More perfect good"?

I mean, that's what demons and devils do in the Blood War, right? Either side invades the other side and tries to kill everything so that the "More perfect evil" triumphs. At least, that's my pretty unnuanced understanding. But, I've never seen the Good side of Planescape start doing the same thing. Do LG forces team up with LE forces to forcibly convert CG forces?

I mean, you're setting an impossible standard, ignoring the "good tends to value life" thing, so slaughter isn't something good is interested in (evil, of course, DELIGHTS in slaughter -- that's why the Blood War is an actual war, while the rivalries amongst the good are "cold war" status, with maneuvering and posturing).

But good fights good pretty frequently in PS. It plays out more on a human level (as most things in PS do -- even the Blood War is just background noise and a framing device, there's no canonical cause or reason or trigger or stopping point), and not with "slaughter," but here's three bits canon for ya, since I know how much you love it. ;)

1 -
The Harmonium is a faction presented in a fairly rough light in most of the PS materials -- as authoritarian town guards looking for an excuse to toss folks who don't agree with them in the slammer for the crime of thinking differently. They are jerks who are well presented as antagonists. Their entire basis for existing is to convert others to their organization by the sword, as their belief holds that those who aren't part of their plan are enemies of it. They are the ones responsible for the canonical shift of a layer of a plane from Lawful Goodish to Lawful Neutral -- the setting itself condemns their actions as Definitely Not Good.

The leader, Factol Sarin? He's a Lawful Good Paladin by RAW. Because he wants universal peace and harmony. He is dedicated to this cause so rigidly that he cannot be swayed. The setting even mentions that outright evil is rare in his faction -- some are good, and most are just very Lawful. And yet he views not only order, but specific membership in his faction as a prerequisite for universal peace and harmony to be realized.

Good opposes Good here: Sarin is unwilling to brook those Lawful Good Paladins who are not part of his faction, and will gladly lead an organization that oppresses and controls Chaotic Good folks who are just ignorant of the glory of the Harmonium.

2-
The Faction War is an instance of colossal violence and devastation in the city of Sigil, and the person who caused all this, and who is absolutely presented as an antagonist for it, is Chaotic Good. A ranger/cleric, even. (In 2e, Rangers had to be Good, and clerics had to have an alignment "acceptable to their order", and Heimdall is a CG deity). See, he runs the "might makes right" faction. Which means that, following his beliefs, he tried to take control of the City of Doors, believing himself to be powerful enough to do so. That's right, he runs a faction whose foundational beliefs are basically indistinguishable from that of goblins, he perpetrated a great loss of life, and tried to take control of a city, and he's still a Chaotic Good Ranger/Cleric.

Good opposes Good here. The Chaotic Good orchestrator of the Faction War came up against every lover of peace and cooperation and charity and kindness in his bid to rule the City of Doors, and didn't fall from Ranger Grace because of it as far as canon is concerned.

3-
Mount Celestia is canonically described as a place with high standards. The Lawful Good spirits of the dead, The Lantern Archons, aren't always good enough to make it. Many will never be anything more than lantern archons -- they just aren't Lawful Good enough. So what do they do? They become martyrs. They fling themselves against invaders, hoping to die and become a martyr for the cause. The highest principle of Lawful Good slaughters millions of its own Lawful Good allies to create martyrs for those that can achieve more.

Good slaughters Good here. Lawful Good archons sacrifice themselves to give greater glory to others. Perfect good kills itself, rather than represent itself as less than perfect.
 
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Nivenus

First Post
The only time I used a dead god as a major campaign element was in a Rolemaster Oriental Adventures game, after buying and reading Monte Cook's Requiem for a God.

The dead god manifested in multiple ways. His stony body, kneeling on the ocean floor, formed an island with the crown of his head, that was a source of eldritch power available for exploitation. (This same campaign also used the Freeport trilogy of adventures, and this island was the one on which the lighthouse was being constructed.)

When the dead god's eyes opened, voidal creatures like octobats and kraken drakes flew out of them.

The dead god also manifested in spiritual fragments on the astral plane - where the PCs would go to travel in dreams or talk with spirits - and had a habit of possessing the paladin PC. It was from these events of possession that the PCs learned that the god was trapped in an endless combat with a dark being on the void, and that this was the cause (i) of the voidal energies surging through his dead body on the mortal world), and (ii) the madness of his sprit shards.

The culmination of the campaign involved the PCs travelling to the void, tempoarily defeating the dark being so that they could extract the dead god, and substituting a new combatant to carry on the endless fight that would keep the world safe. Initially the paladin PC was prepared to sacrifice himself by taking on this role, but then the players came up with a plan whereby they could use a dangerous artefact to create a karmic duplicate of the paladin and send it in instead. Which left the paladin free to starte his monastery for training future warrior monks, located on the now-cleansed lighthouse-tower that had been constructed on the head of the dead god's body.

That actually sounds really Planescape-y to me. Which I suppose shouldn't come as a total surprise, given one of the sources you drew on was Monte Cook.

This actually gets to something I've been trying to understand about your criticisms of Planescape. You say that you can do all of these things in the 4e cosmology but you can't in Planescape, but I've never really understood why. This all sounds like the stuff that Planescape naturally excels at. Which makes it all the puzzling that you seem to have argued in the past that it's what the setting's incapable of.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Good is not something objectively desirable. Otherwise, everyone would want to be Good
No. The fact that something is desirable doesn't mean that everyone desires it. It would arguably be desirable for all the warring parties in Syria and Iraq to lay down there arms, but very few of them desire to do so.

"Desirable" means "worthy of being desired", not "is desired".

I agree with ThirdWizard, you're being semantically obtuse here, whether unintentionally or not. To say a pie tastes better is not the same as to say someone is a better person, which is not the same as to say they're better at math. In all three contexts, better means "more good" but only in one does it have any kind of moral value.
This right here!! That's perhaps a better way of saying it than I tried to.
Where is the semantic obtuseness?

As a simple matter of dictionary meaning, "better" in English means "more good".

Hence, to say that (say) Olympus is a morally better place than Elysium - which, in canonical D&D, is the opinion of the Greek hero or the dissolute bard - means that Olympus is being desribed as more morally good than Elysium.

Yet we also have these descriptions of Elysium as being more morally good - "unsullied" - than Olympus.

How is that coherent?

You can render it coherent by supposing that the bard isn't making a moral judgement - in saying that Olympus is a better place than Elysium s/he is saying that s/he personally prefers it despite its moral flaws. But if that is so, then we are conceding that law/chaos is not a morally deep distinction, but more a matter of outlook and inclination.

Which is sensible enough, but not really consistent with the default D&D 9-point, 2-axis approach to alignment.
 

pemerton

Legend
What if we make it a LG society that "reeducates" (brainwashes) those convicted of repeated criminal acts? And a CG society that gives citizens every opportunity to gainfully employ themselves, but won't help you one cent if you don't take those opportunities? Those societies would be good-ish. At least they'd consider themselves so.
Of course they would.

The Aztecs considered themselves to be good, too. Nearly every organised human social system regards itself as good. In D&D, orcs and goblins regard their brutal social structures as good.

But D&D, in its default form, takes the view that thinking you are doing the right thing doesn't make it so.

"Your brother was spreading vicious rumor about the king, weakening the peoples' confidence, and must be made an example of!"
"So he's guilty of running his mouth. It's HIS mouth. You don't get to tell him what can come out of it. I'm not leaving here without him."
*gets out manacles* "Have it your way."
*gets out sword* "That's all I ever wanted."
**FIGHT!**
I can run this scenario in any fantasy RPG I want to. All I have to do is leave the players free to make their own choices for their PCs, and not use a GM-arbitrated alignment system. I don't see how Planescape especially facilitates this.

Part of what I really like about PS is that it takes the black-and-white, red-vs-blue, moustache-twirling ugly evil vs. pretty white glowing sparkly good that D&D is kind of made for (what with alignments and demons and all) and turns it right on its ear. It could abandon alignment, sure. It doesn't NEED to, and it actually USES alignment to help cement one of its big themes. When someone tells you that something is Good, it is up to the heroic PC character to understand that Good means different things to different people, and the glowing sparkles with the blue lasers doesn't mean that the person is RIGHT.
As I said, if this is the promise of Planescape then no wonder I don't get it! I could just abandon alignment mechanics, as I've done ever since reading "For King and Country" in Dragon 101 (1985).

Then I don't have to puzzle over what "Detect Good" is actually detecting: not actual goodness (because on this approach people who are not good can still end up in charge of Celestia or Olympus), nor any distinctive value commitment (because the LG and CG people are committed to different value schemes). I can replace it with something like "Detect Religion" or "Detect Enemy", or just ignore it altogether.

Only if your definition of human/sapient well-being is the same as a neutral good character's. Which a lawful neutral and chaotic neutral character would not agree with.
They have differing views of what defines human well-being.
My point is that the canonical D&D text leave no room for such differing views. Those texts define human well-being as consisting in life, relative freedom and the prospect of happiness. (Gygax's version of the Declaration of Independence.) In 3E, echoing Gygax's reference to human rights, the reference is to life and dignity.

Both might also look at a neutral good character's unrestrained compassion as kind of naive and blind to the world's realities: sometimes doing the right thing (whether it's the "good" thing or not) means telling a harsh truth or doing something apparently cruel that in the long-term actually might benefit the recipient.
This is an argument, though, that refraining from telling the harsh truth isn't actually good at all.

In D&D, why can't I just use a simple divination spell to find out which behaviour is better: telling the harsh truth, or telling the white lie? And if in fact there is nothing to choose between them - if they are both good, but just in different ways - then why would I have any grounds for serious fighting with someone who woud take the different approach from me?

Not really; modrons, inevitables, and formians (as well as LN petitioners) are arguably more at home in Mechanus than they would be in Elysium. They prefer a world of uncompromising order.
But all this tells us is that the alignment scheme has broken down. In Nirvana, human dignity and welfare are acknowledged, and there is no needless or pointless suffering. It's hard to explain, then, when we have regard to the relevant definitions, why Nirvana is not a good place.

Similarly, the slaadi and CN petitioners largely prefer the transformative and untamed fluidity of Limbo to the relatively stable peacefulness of Elysium. Individual preferences vary and that is one of several points the nine-alignment system takes into account.
But not in a coherent fashion. If we're going for "liberalism for the liberals, cannibalism for the cannibals" then why isn't Limbo a good plane - after all, it fully realises the wellbeing of its inhabitants?

The standard answer, within the alignment system, is that both Nirvana and Limbo fail to realise the wellbeing of their inhabitants, even if those inhabitants don't notice, because there is an objective dimension to wellbeing. (Qv JS Mill's well-known remark that it's better to be Socrates unsatisfied than a pig satisfied - the modrons and slaadie are like pigs.) But then that objective meaure of goodness is then what makes the LG/CG dispute inocherent - either they are objectively equivalent (value pluralism), in which case there is no bais for deep dispute, or one is objectively inferior to the other and hence not fully good.

a Lawful character might look at Olympus and see suffering where there need not be any. Just because a plane is Good doesn't mean that there is a lack of suffering, after all. It just means that there the land hasn't moved away from its given alignment enough to slip into another plane yet.
If Olymus is about to verge into Limbo, that means that it is not as good as it might be. Which would mean that chaos and good aren't as compatible as (say) law and good. Which would be an interesting result, but not one that I think the canonical D&D cosmology contemplates.

I actually see nothing in any of the sources you've posted which conflicts with the definition of good I've described. All of the good alignments value altruism (charity), life (mercy), and a concern for the dignity of sapients (compassion).
"Altruism" - regard for others - is not a synonym for charity. Nor is respect for life synonymous with mercy. For instance, my treating you as an end in yourself and not a mere means (to borrow the Kantian framing) isn't an issue of mercy, it's an issue of justce.

there are real-life value systems where certain principles of law (such as honor) and certain principles of chaos (e.g., freedom) are considered to be as worthwhile as the principles of D&D good (e.g., altruism).
This is not a correct description of those vaue systems. Systems that value freedom - ie liberal and other enlightenment systems - value freedom because it is part of human dignity, and proper altruism (ie proper regard for others) demands respect for their dignity. Kant and Rawls, for instance, don't regard respect for freedom as orthogonal to morality - respect for free equaity is, for both, the core moral principle.

Similarly, pre-enlightenment systems based on ideas of honour don't regard the requirements of honour as independent of treating others, and onself, with dignity. They are inherent to the proper conception of dignity. Of course, the conception of human wellbeing that underpins pre-modern systems is not compatible with Gygax's Declaration of Independence definition of good, but that just means that, in D&D as defined, such systems aren't really good at all. The fact that this arguably makes the paladin, samurai and monk unplayable within the framework of D&D alignment - because the value system that is central to those archetypes has been ruled out of bounds from the start - is another probem for D&D alignment, but not one that is connected to the cosmology.

Not so in Planescape, though, where we have the Revolutionary League that has Good characters working alongside Evil characters to overthrow the social order. Why? Well, they have their own reasons.
I don't see how this bears on my contention. If the members of the Revolutinary League want to overthrow the social order just for a lark, then they are basically nuts! (Or evil, if the lark is a self-serving one.) But in so far as they have serious reasons, those reasons almost certainy relate to conceptions of human well-being. Which is to say, they don't regard questions of social order as orthogonal to questions of good and evil.

Which is to say, they disagree with the cardinal premise of 9-point, two-axis alignment.

That's arguably because Gygax perceived the American idea of freedom as essentially chaotic good in nature (favoring liberty about equally with compassion and both over duty or tradition). You may agree or disagree with that assessment, but it seems like what he was going for.
My point is that, in a definition of goodness that is meant to make it permissible to be both LG and CG, it is somewhat contradictory to build in the value of freedom. Which I see as running my way - even Gygax, who was purporting to present the G/E axis and L/C axis as orthogonal, wasn't able to maintain the distinction. In setting out a conception of human wellbeing, he couldn't help but incorporate elements that, notionally, are meant to be part of L/C and hence orthogonal to the concept of wellbeing defined on the G/E axis.

Indeed, you might be Evil but work toward Good ends. Maybe you want to kill every last Evil Harmonium, but you aren't too concerned with killing some Good Harmonium along the way. You assassinate person after person after person with no heed to anything but the "greater good."
At this point I've competely lost track. Upthread, [MENTION=2067]Kamikaze Midget[/MENTION] suggested that this would be LG-type behaviour, eliminating all the trouble-makers for the greater good. And now you're telling me that eleminating all the trouble-makers for the greater good is evil behaviour. What useful role is the alignment system playing at this point?

that's the kind of game I run. Moral grays. Who is in the right and who is in the wrong isn't necessarily associated with some letters written down on your character sheet.
I think everyone posting in this thread, at this point, is familiar with and capable of running sophisticated games. My question is more narrow - how is a 9-point alignment + cosmology helping with this? How does is the question of "who's right and who's wrong?" opened up by using good and evil as defined scriptors for certain characters and their home bases?

Prima facie, at least, those descriptors answer the question before we even sit down to play.
 

pemerton

Legend
That actually sounds really Planescape-y to me. Which I suppose shouldn't come as a total surprise, given one of the sources you drew on was Monte Cook.

This actually gets to something I've been trying to understand about your criticisms of Planescape. You say that you can do all of these things in the 4e cosmology but you can't in Planescape, but I've never really understood why. This all sounds like the stuff that Planescape naturally excels at. Which makes it all the puzzling that you seem to have argued in the past that it's what the setting's incapable of.
Planescape uses, and indeed makes central to its cosmology, 9-point, 2-axis alignment.

In 4e the cosmology is completely independent of alignment (for instance, the word "evil" in the phrase "shard of evil" that is part of the story of the Abyss is just the word "evil" being used in its everyday sense - it is not a term drawn from a technical alignment lexicon).

The game does assign alingments to NPCs and monsters, but they are simple descriptors of outlook and allegiance. They are not presented as tools of moral categorisation (unlike 9-point alignment).

In a Great Wheel world, a character who turns on the Upper Planes is, by definition, doing something that is not good and probably is evil. In 4e, a character who turns on the gods of the Astral Sea is turning on some beings who have a history, and an outlook, and a likely role in the coming Dusk War; but nothing in the fiction purports to settle the question of whether siding with the gods would be a good or bad thing. This is left free for the players to decide as part of their play.

Similarly in the Oriental Adventures game that I described. Rescuing the dead god, and creating the karmic dupicate of the paladin, both required disobedience to the edicts of heaven. 9-point, 2-axis alignment would already classify this as non-lawful and non-good. Hence, among other things, the paladin and monk PCs woud have fallen.

Because of its stifling effect on the players' freedom to make their own evaluative judgements in the course of play, I haven't used alignment mechanics since the mid-1980s. But aligned planes - that is, planes defined by reference to their expression of values whose rightness (as good) or wrongness (as evil) is predefined - are inherent to the Great Wheel, and therefore inherent to Planescape.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Worth repeating! At least in PS, all of these things have their origins in some validity. I am fond, for instance, of this interpretation of how each alignment sees itself. While I wouldn't necessarily claim it is authentic or canon or anything, I find it very much informs how I approach the alignments in D&D, and is a very thoughtful treatment on how one would "realistically" play these alignments (which are little more than short-hand for heroic and villainous archetypes, functionally).
This post highlights a problem I have with the D&D alignment system. If I'm playing, I'm playing a character and not an alignment. If the alignments are "little more than short-hand for heroic and villainous archetypes," then they strike me as being wholly redundant and unnecessary feature of gameplay, especially since classes and races/creatures often represent such archetypes in themselves. This is certainly even more true with 5E's introduction of 'backgrounds,' which help position the player's relation to society. Thus this idea of building a cosmology based around this redundant and marginally beneficial (with me being generous) feature of gameplay is detrimental to my experience of D&D, both as a player and a GM.

Part of what I really like about PS is that it takes the black-and-white, red-vs-blue, moustache-twirling ugly evil vs. pretty white glowing sparkly good that D&D is kind of made for (what with alignments and demons and all) and turns it right on its ear. It could abandon alignment, sure. It doesn't NEED to, and it actually USES alignment to help cement one of its big themes. When someone tells you that something is Good, it is up to the heroic PC character to understand that Good means different things to different people, and the glowing sparkles with the blue lasers doesn't mean that the person is RIGHT. The Ultimate Home of Justice And Good ain't all it's claiming to be, and only a fool would swallow the brand without question.
What I like about abandoning alignment is that it allows you to do all this and more in any setting, and not just Planescape. Hell, Eberron does a good job of this as well in its setting that marginalizes alignment, tosses the Great Wheel like yesterday's garbage, and involves practically no character planar travel. :erm:

Just to be clear, it's not that Planescape is a flawed setting or that it's badwrongfun to like Planescape - no more than those of us who dislike Planescape, the Great Wheel, and alignment - but that this is not our preferred means of obtaining the moral complexity that we want out of our gaming experience.
 

E

Elderbrain

Guest
Since I don't know that much about Planescape canon, do they actually do this in the setting? Do they actually have CG forces wiping out groups of paladins because they don't agree with the paladin's version of good? Do forces from Olympus invade Elysium and slaughter the people they find there in order to create a "More perfect good"?

I mean, that's what demons and devils do in the Blood War, right? Either side invades the other side and tries to kill everything so that the "More perfect evil" triumphs. At least, that's my pretty unnuanced understanding. But, I've never seen the Good side of Planescape start doing the same thing. Do LG forces team up with LE forces to forcibly convert CG forces?

I wasn't going to add any more here, BUT since you asked a question I know the answer to, then YES, Lawful Good types do sometimes try to forcibly convert NG and CG characters in Planescape (I'm not aware of any examples of NG or CG characters doing so.) Specifically, a Faction known as the Harmonium engaged in the kidnapping of NG and CG characters and took them to "retraining camps" on the third layer of Arcadia. However, this action resulted in that layer becoming LN, shifting away from Arcadia and becoming part of the Lawful Neutral plane of Mechanus. Also, a group based on Mt. Celestia is trying to poach land (and people) from the LG (N) plane of Bytopia. Hope that helps.
 

Imaro

Legend
Planescape uses, and indeed makes central to its cosmology, 9-point, 2-axis alignment.

In 4e the cosmology is completely independent of alignment (for instance, the word "evil" in the phrase "shard of evil" that is part of the story of the Abyss is just the word "evil" being used in its everyday sense - it is not a term drawn from a technical alignment lexicon).

The game does assign alingments to NPCs and monsters, but they are simple descriptors of outlook and allegiance. They are not presented as tools of moral categorisation (unlike 9-point alignment).

It's interesting you think that's how alignment was in 4e... but I've got to ask how do you reconcile that view with the fact that 4e does actually have alignment dependent mechanics...

The Purple Dragon Theme requires that a character be good or lawful good...
Corruption effects from The Book of Vile Darkness and some diseases affect alignment...
There are alignment requirements for certain epic destinies and paragon paths...
 

Seethyr

First Post
Sorry, I am a latecomer to this thread and what I have to say has probably been covered multiple times over 86 pages, but this topic is important enough to me to feel the need to respond anyway.

I think the best parts of all the different philosophies that gamers have on the planes could have been interconnected to make a majority of us happy. Some people seem to love the unique nature of the planar descriptions of their own setting and like to keep it unique. Others love the interconnected nature of Planescape (and Spelljammer). I can't see why these two major concepts couldn't be combined.

Maybe certain planets subscribe to the Great Wheel Cosmology (I'd go with FR and Greyhawk at least for these). They share gods and events in the planes like the blood war. This can help explain, for one, the seemingly infinite number of soul-origin critters in the planes like the tanar'ri. Could GH alone have provided so many souls for the Blood War alone?

But then, places like Eberron can have their own cosmology as well. I don't know that system well, but I remember reading up on their planes and it was cool as heck.

Why lose that? But here is the kicker, find some way to allow travel between cosmologies as well. If someone wants their character to head to Xyber (or whatever it is called) there should be a way to do so.

I have even used different cosmologies within the same world. As a Maztica fanatic (the Aztec setting from 2e), I have my own cosmology even though Maztica was on Toril. I HATED that Quetzalcoatl (called Qotal in Maztica) had a domain where he could stop by Bahamut's to borrow some sugar. There was just too much intermixing there for me.

Why can't you have the best of both worlds?
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
FWIW, I don't think alignments are any more integral to Planescape as a setting than the map of the cosmos as a Great Wheel is. That is, they are useful tools for doing what PS does (the Great Wheel makes Unity of Rings explicit; alignments help you to defy their expectations), but they're hardly essential for the setting's truest expression. Most often, I'll have PC's declare alignments in my PS games simply to make them think about where they might want to value and why, so that they'll ultimately have a context for some of the conflicts they'll be resolving and a declared stake in the results, but I don't use them as guideposts in play for anything functional.

pemerton said:
The Seven Heavens is the plane of ultimate lawful goodness. It is already free of evil. As long as its denizens keep doing whatever they have done so far to render it the ultimate plane of lawful goodness, it will be free of evil.

And the same is true of Olympus (but substituting chaos for law).

Sure, but which one is free of evil in the best way? Utopia is one place, so clearly one must be better than the other, depending on your perspective. Heck, depending on your perspective, the Abyss might be more ideal as a society than any of 'em -- that is a utopia to those who are chaotic and evil, functioning almost how their perfect society would function.

pemerton said:
There is also a puzzle in the notion of "the better good". Given that "better" is equivalent to "more good", the notion is equivalent to "the good that is more good". Well, neither is "more good", at least if I believe the Know Alignment spells, Detect Good spells, the effects of a Holy Word spell, etc.

If you want to say that "good" in LG means something different from "good" in CG, then you have to abaondon the notion of a single good-evil axis. (The same, mutatis mutandis, would apply to "lawful" as it figures in LG and LE.)

Good is not one thing. It is many things. Literally infinite things.

pemerton said:
What would be the difference between wiping out all the paladins because you thing they're wrong about goodness, and the triumph of evil. How does a Planescape protagonist who thinks "all this purity and virtue isn't so good after all" differ from a NE or CE daemon/demon?

The difference is in one's perspective. The paladins might see it as a triumph of evil, but those who never believed their self-proclaimed goodness? They'd say this is a triumph of a greater good.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I wasn't going to add any more here, BUT since you asked a question I know the answer to, then YES, Lawful Good types do sometimes try to forcibly convert NG and CG characters in Planescape (I'm not aware of any examples of NG or CG characters doing so.) Specifically, a Faction known as the Harmonium engaged in the kidnapping of NG and CG characters and took them to "retraining camps" on the third layer of Arcadia. However, this action resulted in that layer becoming LN, shifting away from Arcadia and becoming part of the Lawful Neutral plane of Mechanus. Also, a group based on Mt. Celestia is trying to poach land (and people) from the LG (N) plane of Bytopia. Hope that helps.
So what you're telling me is that Lawful Good types aren't supposed to do this because it's not actually "Good"?
 

E

Elderbrain

Guest
Right, at least that the way the Planescape writers saw it, that it was evil for the LG Harmonium members to force Good but non-Lawful types to change their alignments against their will. That bit of evil - the coercion - was enough to move that layer of Arcadia one step towards evil, thus becoming part of Mechanus.
 

pemerton

Legend
YES, Lawful Good types do sometimes try to forcibly convert NG and CG characters in Planescape (I'm not aware of any examples of NG or CG characters doing so.) Specifically, a Faction known as the Harmonium engaged in the kidnapping of NG and CG characters and took them to "retraining camps" on the third layer of Arcadia. However, this action resulted in that layer becoming LN, shifting away from Arcadia and becoming part of the Lawful Neutral plane of Mechanus. Also, a group based on Mt. Celestia is trying to poach land (and people) from the LG (N) plane of Bytopia. Hope that helps.
So what you're telling me is that Lawful Good types aren't supposed to do this because it's not actually "Good"?
I'm with Aldarc on this one - if forcible conversion turns a plane from LG to LN then the one who did it weren't LG types at all!

Also, I'm not sure how this is meant to fit with the "good is whatever we make of it" vibe coming through in other posts expaining PS. It seems to fit with the objective conception of good and evil that is part and parcel of 9-point alignment.

Sure, but which one is free of evil in the best way?
This makes me repeat - what does best mean here? It can't mean "most good as in most free of evil", because both are free of evil. I can't see it as anything other than a type of aesthetic prefrence - "To me, order is more pleasing than chaos". That's not something that good people kill over, given they respect one another's dignity and hence differences of taste and inclination.

Conversely, someone who starts hacking into Olympians on grounds that they're not free of evil in the right way has revealed him-/herself to be less than fully good - a bit like the Harmonium!

I don't think alignments are any more integral to Planescape as a setting

<snip>

Most often, I'll have PC's declare alignments in my PS games simply to make them think about where they might want to value and why

<snip>

I don't use them as guideposts in play for anything functional.
That seems sensible enough. But I'm not sure how it fits with the Harmonium's activities being objectively judged as non-good (presumably evil?). That seems to be about using alignment in play for establishing and applying key features of the cosmology.

The paladins might see it as a triumph of evil, but those who never believed their self-proclaimed goodness? They'd say this is a triumph of a greater good.
When a Detect Evil spell detects them, then; or when they die and go to the Abyss rather than Heaven; what are they meant to make of that?
 

The Shadow

Adventurer
Good is not something objectively desirable.

...And here is the great divide. Here is the lack of contact between my (and I think Pemerton's) point of view and those of others on this thread.

My instinctive response is, "Of COURSE good is something objectively desirable! Otherwise it wouldn't BE good! It would just be a matter of taste."

As Pemerton said, however, the fact that it is innately desirable does not mean that it is, in fact, desired. That's what evil is all about: Pursuit of objectively wrong ends that are only superficially attractive.

As I said quite a lot of pages ago, one of my major beefs with D&D alignment is that it treats good and evil as in some sense equal; they aren't. The relationship is asymmetrical: Evil needs good things to desire in the wrong way or to the wrong extent, but good has no need whatever of evil. And worse yet, it treats the incoherent and made-up Law/Chaos axis as somehow equivalent to the crucial distinction between good and evil.

(A brief aside: Law vs. Chaos made some sense in Moorcock's universe, where they were the only games in town. There, the only sane option was to try to play the two off against each other, because they were both desperately evil. But once Gygax introduced Good vs. Evil in addition, Law vs. Chaos treated as forms of 'Neutrality' stopped making any sense whatever. How anyone can think that the Lords of Law and Chaos in Moorcock are anything but utterly evil bastards is beyond me. Good grief, any scene Arioch is in, he comes off as completely demonic - or diabolical, if you prefer!)

(Incidentally, it's the utterly bleak metaphysics of Moorcock's worlds that makes me rather loathe them in the end, despite his skill as a storyteller.)

But my main beef with D&D alignment is, as I have intimated, that it contributes pretty much exactly nothing. I've played plenty of other RPG's that had no alignment system at all, and they did not suffer for it in the least. The heroes were just as heroic, the villains just as villainous, the morally grey areas just as morally grey. Where is the value added of D&D's alignment system? Why bother with it?

I've been saying for decades now that if one must have a Detect Evil spell, why can't it just detect supernatural evil - undead and fiends? And I am glad to see that 5e at last agrees with me. Or, as Pemerton said, a Detect Enemy spell, that works fine too.
 

E

Elderbrain

Guest
I'm with Aldarc on this one - if forcible conversion turns a plane from LG to LN then the one who did it weren't LG types at all!

- Not neccessarily. Sometimes good people do evil things (which they don't recognize as evil, naturally) for good reasons. Anyway, if those Harmonium members DIDN'T value good, they wouldn't have bothered trying to convert people to Lawful Good. The Harmonium wasn't aiming at an inherently evil goal, just using the wrong means to bring it about (if they had tried gentle persuasion instead of violence and coercive magic, presumably the layer wouldn't have moved... or might have moved the OTHER way, towards Mt. Celestia.)
 

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