D&D 5E Why is animate dead considered inherently evil?

I'm having a troublesome time understanding why the animate dead spell is considered evil. When I read the manual it states that the spall imbues the targeted corpse with a foul mimicry of life, implying that the soul is not a sentient being who is trapped in a decaying corpse. Rather, the spell does exactly what its title suggests, it only animates the corps. Now of course one could use the spell to create zombies that would hunt and kill humans, but by that same coin, they could create a labor force that needs no form of sustenance (other than for the spell to be recast of course). There have also been those who have said "the spell is associated with the negative realm which is evil", however when you ask someone why the negative realm is bad that will say "because it is used for necromancy", I'm sure you can see the fallacy in this argument.

However, I must take into account that I have only looked into the DnD magic system since yesterday so there are likely large gaps in my knowledge. PS(Apon further reflection I've decided that the animate dead spell doesn't fall into the school of necromancy, as life is not truly given to the corps, instead I believe this would most likely fall into the school of transmutation.) PPS(I apologize for my sloppy writing, I've decided I'm feeling too lazy to correct it.)
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Once you remove the alignment any patron can be good, evil, neither or both.
This is wrong. The lack of alignment does not prevent good and evil. Tyr is not suddenly going to be evil along with his good. Asmodeus is not suddenly going to be good along with his evil. Who they are will remain the same. Alignment just describes what is already there. It isn't what made them what they are.
 

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Villains have always been allowed to pet dogs and love their families, while Heroes have often been racists or worse. Even fiends and celestials have exceptions, once in a while.

For me, alignment will always be a quick estimate / average of deeds.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Villains have always been allowed to pet dogs and love their families, while Heroes have often been racists or worse. Even fiends and celestials have exceptions, once in a while.

For me, alignment will always be a quick estimate / average of deeds.
That's all alignment has ever been. It has never constrained someone from acts outside the alignment. Back in the day too many outside acts allowed the DM to change the PC's alignment and hit him with penalties, but it has never been a straightjacket.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I'm not even sure why a gradual shift in alignment would even be noteworthy as anything more than character development.

I completely agree.

However, in fairness, alignment back in ye olde days could be a lot more punitive. It was a gate to quite a few classes .... it could make leveling harder if you drifted, many magic items were coded by alignment, it affected your hirelings and henchmen, and so on.

But that's from long ago, and even then, most tables weren't policing alignment.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Paladins usually got the DM's attention. I've played in groups where a Ranger or Druid comes close to an alignment shift, and the DM never batted an eye. But if a Paladin should so much as not stop to pet a puppy on the side of the road?

REPENT YE SINNER!

And the sad part is, the Paladin's special abilities were never really all that to write home about. A few spells at higher levels. The super amazing ability to heal a few hit points with Lay on Hands. A couple uses of Cure Disease. +1 to AC against evil creatures (a little better since they are at -1 to hit, so this ignores the AC cap, but...yeah). Immune to disease (but only most of the time)...you know the drill.

And you couldn't specialize without a Kit, and you had super strict ability score requirements, and limits on treasure, and a slower xp track.

Honestly, the real winner I always felt was a +2 on saves. Most of what the Paladin could do was greatly outstripped by a multiclass Fighter/Cleric.

But because they had so much text devoted to their code, DM's read that and said "oh man, this is serious, obviously Paladins are super strong, and if I don't enforce this, they'll run all over my game!".
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
And the sad part is, the Paladin's special abilities were never really all that to write home about.

Dude..... the 1e* Paladin was a terror. Compare to the 1e Fighter (who was also quite good).

The Paladin got all the good stuff of the fighter- the saves, the ability to get higher con hit points, the percentile strength, the use of any weapons or shields or armor, and unlike the Ranger, the same multi-attack progression.

But ... in addition, the Paladin also:
1. Could eventually use cleric spells.
2. Could get that sweet war horse.
3. Could turn undead.
4. Had a continuous protection from evil (!!!). (Seriously, this was massive ...)
5. Could cure any kind of disease (and was also immune to it).
6. Could cure hit points (again, big deal in 1e).
7. Had +2 on all saves.
8. Could detect evil at will.

And, of course, the Holy Sword benefit (in addition to all the other awesome benefits, could dispel magic). Have you met a Paladin without a Holy Sword. Yeah, me neither.

The Paladin's benefits were crazy good. But this was part of the ... interesting design philosophy behind 1e. First, to restrict the number of "awesome" characters by making the ability requirements crazy high (17 charisma????) ... which just meant that the average Paladin player was a cheater .... :)

Second, by requiring "cool" classes to have restriction so that people would have to suffer to play them. Which probably reached its apotheosis with the UA Barbarian.




*Note that I am dealing with pre-UA 1e, because things got weird with the Paladin-as-Cavalier subclass.
 



James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Evil kittens though...so cute!

And yes, in 1e, without UA giving Fighters the option for Weapon Specialization (and DOUBLE Specialization), the Paladin does edge ahead noticeably more than in 2e. I specifically didn't mention the Holy Sword because I've played many Paladins and never got one. And for good reason, 50% magic resistance against evil spellcasters as an aura and a constant Dispel Magic? That thing is a nightmare (knightmare?)!
 

I once had a DM (2E) who would make you lose a level if you shifted alignment. Yes, ALL classes.

Because (in his words) it was an important mechanic and there needed to be consequences for our actions.

At first I though it was just a kludge to keep us heroic, but no. It happened even if you moved sideways.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I once had a DM (2E) who would make you lose a level if you shifted alignment. Yes, ALL classes.

Because (in his words) it was an important mechanic and there needed to be consequences for our actions.

At first I though it was just a kludge to keep us heroic, but no. It happened even if you moved sideways.

Naw. The DM was just using the 1e Rules.

1e DMG p. 25- changing alignment for any class causes a loss of level. You could only get the level back by returning to your original alignment and making atonement.

(Again, this wasn't something that most table I saw enforced, but it did exist)
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I remember those rules. And I never quite got why Alignment was "serious business". Speaking of oddball rules, how about "alignment languages"?
Yeah, that's one we never used.

Thieves' (and Assassins') cants eventually went the same way as while they were kept around in our games for ages, nobody ever used them in play.
 




Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Given the investment and the downsides, I'll stick with Animate Objects over Animate Dead. I had a Warforged Sorcerer who went full Puppetmaster by hiring a local dollmaker to make him some deadly toys.
OK, next stupid question - which I-as-player would raise if no-one else did:

Does a lifeless corpse count as an "object" for purposes of Animate Object? If no, why not? If yes, then we're possibly right back in the same rabbit hole you thought you'd just escaped... :)
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
While I get it was a (funny) joke, I will attempt to answer this. Yes. There have been constructs made from dead corpses before, like bone golems. You can totally use Animate Objects to rise the dead from their graves, imbued with the non-evil powers of Transmutation.

But since they are under your complete control, and the only thing they will do is defend themselves from hostiles if you don't command them, and the spell only lasts for a minute they are not inherently evil just annoyingly neutral.

Though I'm sure society will treat you no differently than a vile Necromancer.
 

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