D&D 5E Yes to factionalism. No to racism.

I concur.

This is why I strongly disfavour humanoids who reproduce in a "normal" way, have free(ish) will, a child stage, non-combatants, and so on as block "Evil" factions. Because otherwise it's very hard to work around situations where the PCs are likely to come into contact with the non-combatants, question whether the humanoids really went to be there, and so on.
On a side note, and in an attempt to be productive, I do this as well and I have noticed that it changes the relative importance of a lot of spells.

Heat metal is a pretty useless spell when you very rarely fight creatures in metal armor, and most fiends are resistant or immune to fire. Hypnotic pattern is extremely useful against the very many monstrous or unintelligent opponent that don’t know to shake an ally to awaken them.
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
For all that you are accusing the people who criticize the game of lacking nuance, this view of alignment that requires Evil to be unapologetically unrepentantly evil (to the point, as described elsewhere in this thread, where you are randomly attacking passerby) is the one that lacks nuance.

If they do evil things now and then but apologize and repent for some of.it and even do an occasional good things... doesn't that make them neutral? (What else would neutral be?).
 

If they do evil things now and then but apologize and repent for some of.it and even do an occasional good things... doesn't that make them neutral? (What else would neutral be?).
Also worth noting, not sure Halruun apologizes OR repents. Seems like the extent of his reaction is that he looks uncomfortable when confronted by someone he attempted to burn at the stake.

Back on 2e, the concept of neutral was as you described. Dude burns an orphanage one day, but is extremely generous the next. This was very right panned as ridiculous.

In 5e, neutral is not described in the books (hence why it is ridiculous to keep the concept of alignment if they are just going to ignore it).

I don’t know how it is described in PF1 (which Wrath of the Righteous is based on).
 

If they do evil things now and then but apologize and repent for some of.it and even do an occasional good things... doesn't that make them neutral? (What else would neutral be?).
Hahahaha well isn't that a much, much bigger question that you're seeming to think?

There is a huge question in D&D as to whether alignment is "sum total of actions" or "how you think right now".

In older editions, there was strong evidence for "how you think right now" with stuff like the "Helm of Opposite Alignment". If alignment of the sum of actions, then, how could that work? How could you instantly become the opposite?

But it's not the sum of actions, you can repent on the spot and potentially have a "Road to Damascus" moment and change utterly, yet, if you did an awful lot of bad things, does that wipe the karmic debt? Do you instantly get on a path to the Upper Planes the moment you renounce Evil? Gary Gygax seemed to think so, because he said that if you murdered a bunch of Evil humanoids who had converted to LG on the spot they'd go to the Upper Planes (of course this begs huge questions about the impact on your own alignment, but he dismissed those).

Most people today aren't very comfortable with the notion that alignment can "turn on a dime", or that you're instantly not an alignment. You seem to agree - for you, did lots of Evil, now doing Good = Neutral, not Good. But that doesn't entirely make sense either, unless you see a sort of imaginary karmic slider.

Or yes, as @FrozenNorth points out there's the 2E and earlier take where "Neutral" = "Does horribly Evil and amazingly Good things to 'balance out' stuff" which is absolutely bonkers (it makes some limited sense for Law/Chaos in a Moorcockian paradigm).

Computer games even have struggled with this. Mass Effect had Renegade and Paragon, which don't quite map to Evil and Good (more like John McClaine in a bad mood and Captain Picard), but they decided you could have both and both were separately tracked. Other games have tried to have straight morality-meters with just one linear axis and they're usually a disaster.

4E had an odd take too, where it kind of put alignment on a single axis but not quite. It was dumb anyway, except it had one genius thing - you didn't have to have an alignment. You could be "unaligned". That wasn't the same as committing to Neutrality or whatever, it was just saying "I'm not aiming to push any of these agendas, only my own". 5E retained unaligned but only for animals, changing its meaning.
 

Minigiant

Legend
I concur.

This is why I strongly disfavour humanoids who reproduce in a "normal" way, have free(ish) will, a child stage, non-combatants, and so on as block "Evil" factions. Because otherwise it's very hard to work around situations where the PCs are likely to come into contact with the non-combatants, question whether the humanoids really went to be there, and so on.

For block "Evil" factions I prefer beings who lack free will, or at the very least don't have non-combatants, kids and so on. Or factions where literally everyone has actively chosen to sign up to Evil (certain kinds of cult, for example).

Yeah, I mostly use gangs, cults, armies, guilds, and political organizations or other creature types like fey, fiends, aberrations or undead over "just evil humaniods".

There are no kids or noncombatants in the Bone Cult or the Purple Clique.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I concur.

This is why I strongly disfavour humanoids who reproduce in a "normal" way, have free(ish) will, a child stage, non-combatants, and so on as block "Evil" factions. Because otherwise it's very hard to work around situations where the PCs are likely to come into contact with the non-combatants, question whether the humanoids really went to be there, and so on.

For block "Evil" factions I prefer beings who lack free will, or at the very least don't have non-combatants, kids and so on. Or factions where literally everyone has actively chosen to sign up to Evil (certain kinds of cult, for example).

An Evil faction can include non-Evil members.

A faction might be Evil because its ideology and policy do genocide, for example.

But it might include members who are there because of coercion, ignorance, or so on.
 

An Evil faction can include non-Evil members.

A faction might be Evil because its ideology and policy do genocide, for example.

But it might include members who are there because of coercion, ignorance, or so on.
Yes, that's why I'm differentiating "block Evil" from mere "overall Evil".

By "block Evil" I mean ones where virtually every person involved is actively committed to doing Evil.

Whereas a faction which had goals which are only ambiguously Evil, or where not everyone participating is committed to those goals would only be "overall Evil".

Also you can do a thing where an organisation might only be "overall Evil", but the parts the players come in contact with are unambiguously active Evil. For example, in one of my campaigns, I have a large company akin to the East India Company, let's call them the DV Company. They're only overall Evil. Their outward goals are ambiguously Evil and most people working for them are just doing a job though a lot of it requires a certain degree of callousness which means they're unlikely to be Good.

But the parts of the organisation the PCs interact with tend to be unambiguously Evil - kill squads/hitmen, "privateers", the more serious leadership of the organisation, and so on.

One of the other main antagonists is a massive crusade which isn't really "Evil" at all, just a huge problem, and with most of the people working for it who the PCs encounter being utter fanatics who aren't really open to reason and fight to the death. I've steered the players away from the "main column" of the crusade, which would include a lot of people who aren't fanatics and some non-combatants. Nor will the plot likely need them to enact violence on those people.

And there's a block Evil faction the PCs are barely aware of, which is manipulating the DV Company, but also at its mercy to some extent. Still, it's a dark cult and every single person in it is committed to Evil and potentially a combatant (and in most cases, barely human anymore).
 

If they do evil things now and then but apologize and repent for some of.it and even do an occasional good things... doesn't that make them neutral? (What else would neutral be?).
It's not quite in line with the topic, but my own opinion is that alignment should be less what you are and more what you're aligned with, and it should be vary in strength based on degree of separation from the source of alignment. The further from the source, the more likely for there to be a neutral element on at least one axis, with full neutral simply being "unaligned."

For example, say you have an evil god. The god and their direct representatives(extraplanar in nature) would be intrinsically evil(LE, CE, NE). Their proxies (faithful clerics and champions) would be strongly aligned with evil. Warriors to the cause, mundane adherents and evangelists, etc would be moderately aligned with evil, and your average citizen, tribe member, etc. would be weakly aligned at most. It wouldn't have to be religious in origin either. Sufficient dedication to a specific cause or being could qualify, though some connection to an extraplanar or supernatural origin would be necessary for an intrinsic category. A cabal of evil mages(strong), most undead(intrinsic), the upper echelon of a slaving organization(moderate), etc. Anything that represents a strong and enduring dedication or association to an evil cause or origin.

This wouldn't represent an "okay-to-kill-ometer," but would mostly reflect two things: what it takes to turn them from their alignment and how alignment specific spells would affect them. Intrinsic alignment cannot be turned away from their alignment through mundane means if any at all, and, for example, a protection spell against their alignment would stop them outright. Strong alignment would be nearly impossible to turn away, and the above spell would inflict a penalty to the affected person's attacks. Moderate alignment could be turned away by extended separation from the source of alignment or extreme hardship such as starvation where the source of alignment is perceived to either be responsible or failed to have prevent it (though propaganda can easily shift blame in absence of an opposing viewpoint), and weakly aligned are only aligned at all because they're told they should be, and can change (but won't necessarily) by the introduction of a convincing and opposing viewpoint.

A system like this would introduce the kind of nuance people want without discarding a useful tool. In your example under this system, the question wouldn't be what they did, but why, because alignment isn't a behavioral straightjacket, but an indication of goals and dedication. A man who kisses his wife, plays with the kids, and then goes to the ruined temple to work on the ritual to summon Ithpaxt the Merciless is of evil alignment, not because he always chooses to do evil things(hard to get along with your neighbors that way), but because he is dedicated to an evil cause. The woman who murders her husband for selfish reasons is, barring other factors, not evil, because murder is an act, not a cause. And it would trickle into the makeup of societies. Isolated societies with a monolithic religion would trend towards a specific alignment (see the drow issue), where more cosmopolitan societies with a more polytheistic bent would trend towards neutrality among the less dedicated. It wouldn't mean that the drow themselves are evil, but rather that they have strongly enforced incentive to be more dedicated to their goddess than most societies (and thus more strongly aligned on average).
 

Scribe

Hero
At this point, alignment is completely divorced from any real world morality.

FrozenNorth, just to get this out of the way, I'm not looking for an antagonistic discussion to start off my weekend. I dont believe we have been at odds before, so I'm trying to just start at a basic level of discourse here.

First, Alignment absolutely IS divorced from any real world morality because its dealing with a world that is not real and in the context of this discussion a world that is seemingly leaning towards 'dark' or 'grim' as the PF1 world as presented in the game being discussed to ME seems pretty dark and grim. Second, I'm not talking about other implementations, other versions, or what transpired in 2e.

If unjustly burning people at the stake is not enough to qualify for the Evil alignment, what is?

Who says it was unjust? Was it every time? We are in fact presented later in the game with an example where it seemingly was justified (assuming again in the PF1 world this is an act that is accepted by the Good side of the world.)

If a person only kills one extremely wealthy relative for his fortune, but otherwise takes few moral or immoral actions otherwise, would you consider them Neutral?

Yes, probably. In a system in which morality falls on a sliding scale, 1 sin is likely not enough to dictate a person's morality.

That is operating on a cartoon-level on evil. Halruun is not LE because he may feel slightly bad about burning people at the stake. Not enough to stop mind you, and only when confronted by a person he attempted to burn.

And why would he stop, after all, his LG goddess doesn’t consider this a sufficiently serious transgression to deny him his divine spells.

No, hes not Evil, because he can see, or be reasoned with, to consider the alternatives. You can convince him to let the Desna priests leave, you can also (I cannot remember the dialogue path) get him to go back to the base of operations to help, through he does it because he thinks Irabeth will screw things up. Zone of Truth also wouldnt particularly help in the scenario presented. The Desna priests ARE telling the truth, they had a dream.

Now set some context. Cultists are real and COMMON. Demons are practically outside the gates. War has been going on his ENTIRE LIFE against said forces.

Whats a dream to him? Is that proof of innocence? If the priests are confirmed as telling the truth of their story, does that sway a man who's duty is to law, and the safety of his city no matter the cost? No. Zone of Truth isnt going to sway him. Consider also, that his Goddess, is the one that made the Wardstones that these Desna priests are calling corrupt...

For all that you are accusing the people who criticize the game of lacking nuance, this view of alignment that requires Evil to be unapologetically unrepentantly evil (to the point, as described elsewhere in this thread, where you are randomly attacking passerby) is the one that lacks nuance.

I have not accused anyone of lacking nuance to my recent memory. I'm also not saying Evil must be, can only be, unapologetically unrepentantly evil. Regill's Evil, is not Daeran's Evil, is not Wenduag's Evil, and is CERTAINLY not a certainly other companions type of Evil.

Which is good. The Good side is also variable in how it approaches things. This is fine.

If I've accused you of lacking nuance, I apologize.

I also make no claim at being a PF1 expert, or having perfect knowledge of Wrath of the Righteous, this is just my interpretations based on the 300 (yikes) hours put into the game so far. :)
 

No, hes not Evil, because he can see, or be reasoned with, to consider the alternatives.
I think this is a serious failure of logic in an otherwise reasonable post.

Many Evil people can absolutely be reasoned with or "see the alternatives". Unreasonable people cannot be reasoned with, and exist on all alignments. Being Evil doesn't make you stupid or illogical (despite 99% of the PC "Evil" dialogue options doing just that lol), it just means that you're absolutely willing to do horrible things to people in order to achieve your goals (which can include "for the lulz"), even if you don't absolutely have to and/or if they're "innocent".

Absolutely a Lawful Evil person could and quite likely would act identically to Halruun or whatever he's called. Particularly as he's absolutely willing to kill people who get in his way, even though the actual threat as he can explain it, seems to be minuscule at the point he's pursuing it, and there are tons of very real threats which he's ignoring to pursue some priests he doesn't like. Indeed, his obsession with the Desnans is somewhat irrational. You basically have to bully him into behaving like a decent human being. That's absolutely something you could do if he was LE. Hell, probably NE, given IIRC he essentially has to realize that you could kick his ass before he'll behave, and throws out all sort of dire threats before then.

This is one of the key issues with the writing in WotR, I'd say, which I think is partly the product of the specific adventure and some of the themes involved, rather than inherent to alignment systems - LE and LN can be very hard to distinguish from each other. Regill is LE and considerably more reasonable and flexible than Halruun, and possibly not even as malicious-seeming (I say seeming, I can't read the mind of either, but certainly Halruun seems more irrational, vengeful and rage-filled than Regill). Tons of "Lawful" options read like something that would come out of a Lawful Evil badguy's mouth.
 

Scribe

Hero
I think this is a serious failure of logic in an otherwise reasonable post.

Many Evil people can absolutely be reasoned with or "see the alternatives". Unreasonable people cannot be reasoned with, and exist on all alignments. Being Evil doesn't make you stupid or illogical (despite 99% of the PC "Evil" dialogue options doing just that lol), it just means that you're absolutely willing to do horrible things to people in order to achieve your goals (which can include "for the lulz"), even if you don't absolutely have to and/or if they're "innocent".

Absolutely a Lawful Evil person could and quite likely would act identically to Halruun or whatever he's called. Particularly as he's absolutely willing to kill people who get in his way, even though the actual threat as he can explain it, seems to be minuscule at the point he's pursuing it, and there are tons of very real threats which he's ignoring to pursue some priests he doesn't like. Indeed, his obsession with the Desnans is somewhat irrational. You basically have to bully him into behaving like a decent human being. That's absolutely something you could do if he was LE. Hell, probably NE, given IIRC he essentially has to realize that you could kick his ass before he'll behave, and throws out all sort of dire threats before then.

This is one of the key issues with the writing in WotR, I'd say, which I think is partly the product of the specific adventure and some of the themes involved, rather than inherent to alignment systems - LE and LN can be very hard to distinguish from each other. Regill is LE and considerably more reasonable and flexible than Halruun, and possibly not even as malicious-seeming (I say seeming, I can't read the mind of either, but certainly Halruun seems more irrational, vengeful and rage-filled than Regill).
I should have said that he considers alternatives as just as acceptable, or...I dont know how to phrase what I'm saying.

An LE wouldnt agree to let the priests go.
An LE wouldnt be confused/confounded by the Light of Heaven, and back down.

Then again, I've just woken up and could just be wrong.

What I'm trying to get at, is that Law is more important than his own desire to enact what he sees as justice. We also find out later from another Inquisitor, that he is 'kept in check' by his more even tempered Inquisitors.

I just see his character as one who is certainly trending towards evil, but ISNT outright evil yet. I wonder if you can pull some kind of redemption arc, as he did show up in my city later, but I dont know.

That said, yes the writing is not without flaw. ;)
 

I find that whenever we discuss factions or even group alignments, people use modern contexts. Very few choose to use more ancient contexts: travel more than fifty miles from home as rare, news being transcribed and inaccurate, superstition layered into daily life. And then even fewer seem to use D&D's fantasy context. I mean, if a faction is starving and the Pelor clerics come around and start casting create food and water for them - it might be a very big deal. ;)
 

I should have said that he considers alternatives as just as acceptable, or...I dont know how to phrase what I'm saying.

An LE wouldnt agree to let the priests go.
An LE wouldnt be confused/confounded by the Light of Heaven, and back down.

Then again, I've just woken up and could just be wrong.
I mean, I'm not saying your definitely wrong, but I've restarted a number of times and talked to that guy a bunch and I don't think ever considers any alternative to "KILL EM" as remotely "as acceptable" as "KILL EM". To me it looks like he has one idea for what he wants to do, and only if you actively prevent him from being able to do it does he not. You can't IIRC, just "talk him down". You need like a show of force and to make threats and stuff (I haven't played a Cleric/Paladin or LG yet though, maybe that works), and he doesn't go "Oh, yes, that's actually reasonable!" he goes "I still think we should kill em but I guess I won't this time. HMPH!". And indeed it's easy for him to decide to kill you too if you pick the wrong choices or roll poorly. Happened the first time I met him.

And I disagree strongly re: Light of Heaven. A NON-BELIEVER wouldn't be confused-confounded. But an LE believer (let's, for the sake of argument, say those exist) would absolutely be vexed by that. I mean we've seen this scene in animated movies or the like where the Evil Priest Guy is forced to confront what appears to be a miracle, and half the time they fall to their knees, the other half it's revealed they weren't actually believers, it was all a front.

Given the amount of threatening and cajoling you have to do to let him go I'm pretty sure an LE guy would do that too.

I'm not saying he is Evil. I'm saying there's not external way to differentiate him from an LE guy, especially with peeps like Regill around, who are superficially more reasonable.
 

Oofta

Legend
Another problem that I have with factions is the assumption that people choose to join them. Meh. Maybe, maybe not even if they were not conscripted.

Trying to stay away from real world politics too much, but most people who are religious follow the same religion they were raised in. If I was born in Minnesota and my parents were fans of the Vikings I'm probably going to be a fan of the Vikings if I follow (American) football. A Vikings fan may be a fan of an individual player on another team, but they're probably not going to suddenly become a fan of the Packers.

So if you look at religions as a valid faction the majority of people don't really choose, they're born into it. This is even more true in the day and age before modern communication. If you were born into a community that worshipped Pelor, you probably worship Pelor and all other gods aren't even a consideration*.

It's also true for what country you fight for, who you consider your enemy, standing on various issues such as personal rights versus societal rights, on and on. Even things like slavery. If you grew up in a culture where slavery was the norm, IMHO whether an individual fights to abolish slavery should not be a litmus test for whether someone is good or evil. Sadly, when I was growing up I was taught that many slaves were well cared for and relatively happy (small town, older teacher). If that was the only message I heard my entire life, my opinion on the subject may have been misguided.

But again, the game doesn't need to model real world morality. I don't think it should even try to do so as the base core assumption.

P.S. If you don't think sports fans are religious about what teams they follow I'm sure you could find some youtube videos that seem to prove otherwise. :)

*In the real world most polytheistic religions didn't really have a single god that they worshipped, although some like the Greeks had patron deities for their city. Worshipping a single deity out of many wasn't normally a thing.
 

Scribe

Hero
And I disagree strongly re: Light of Heaven. A NON-BELIEVER wouldn't be confused-confounded. But an LE believer (let's, for the sake of argument, say those exist) would absolutely be vexed by that. I mean we've seen this scene in animated movies or the like where the Evil Priest Guy is forced to confront what appears to be a miracle, and half the time they fall to their knees, the other half it's revealed they weren't actually believers, it was all a front.

All fair, but this part I think we just disagree on, or I may be misremember it. I take this scene as you have already talked him back from going after the priests, but he appears here anyway (probably poor writing or plot following but whatever) but you pop that light out and he is confounded. He think's hes in the right, but he sees the Light, he knows we the player are telling the truth (he casts a spell in the first encounter) and he just cannot understand why we (Righteous) are standing in his way (Righteous).

Regill on the other hand, has no qualms about what he does. People are wounded? Kill them, slowing us down, not a second thought.

Hulraan does have that reasonable doubt, IMO.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I think that if we view factions with more nuance and the motivating factors to align with them we would find that most Cobra agents are not there by "choice" in any meaningful way.
That may or may not be true, based on the background of the individual. And indeed that would make for interesting NPCs, if you want to go that far down each NPC's history. I find that I do that a lot--try to come up with a justification for each villain I use, even the minor ones.

But when it comes down to it, people are still not born with an undying devotion to a faction. They may be raised in one, but people can and do realize that the faction they were raised in is bad or otherwise doesn't represent their ideals, and people can and do escape from such places or rebel in some way if they can't. I'm not saying that every antagonist NPC in an Evil Faction needs to be either die-hard evil or a secret rebel, of course--but it's likely that they are either actively supporting the Evil Faction or simply don't care about the bad stuff it does.

But people are born into a "race" and can't change that.
 

Oofta

Legend
That may or may not be true, based on the background of the individual. And indeed that would make for interesting NPCs, if you want to go that far down each NPC's history. I find that I do that a lot--try to come up with a justification for each villain I use, even the minor ones.

But when it comes down to it, people are still not born with an undying devotion to a faction. They may be raised in one, but people can and do realize that the faction they were raised in is bad or otherwise doesn't represent their ideals, and people can and do escape from such places or rebel in some way if they can't. I'm not saying that every antagonist NPC in an Evil Faction needs to be either die-hard evil or a secret rebel, of course--but it's likely that they are either actively supporting the Evil Faction or simply don't care about the bad stuff it does.

But people are born into a "race" and can't change that.

Then it's a good thing that the alignment listed in the MM is just the default, even if it should have been more explicit.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But when it comes down to it, people are still not born with an undying devotion to a faction. They may be raised in one, but people can and do realize that the faction they were raised in is bad or otherwise doesn't represent their ideals, and people can and do escape from such places or rebel in some way if they can't. I'm not saying that every antagonist NPC in an Evil Faction needs to be either die-hard evil or a secret rebel, of course--but it's likely that they are either actively supporting the Evil Faction or simply don't care about the bad stuff it does.
Sure, but none of that is true outside of a few narrow races like Demons, Devils and Angels. At no point is an orc, goblin, bugbear or Ettin ever born with an undying devotion to anything. And even with Demons, Devils, etc., there are still exceptions.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
*In the real world most polytheistic religions didn't really have a single god that they worshipped, although some like the Greeks had patron deities for their city. Worshipping a single deity out of many wasn't normally a thing.
This was also a thing in Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Mesoamerica, Ancient Italy, Ancient Celtic Europe, Ancient Japan, Ancient China…

Ancestor Worship, the Divine King or Queen of the City, the God of the Tribe, and genius loci are very very very common in so-called Polytheisms.

Usually it's more that there is the patron deity of the tribe or the natural area you live in, but you also recognise a few other deities too as important, so when you're visiting another city, you offer sacrifice to their patron god as well, just in case.

The big shift for monotheisms like Atenism and Judaism were their refusals to offer sacrifices to or recognition of the other nations' deities (including the Egyptian and Roman God-Emperors, when it comes to the Hebrews).

So when you're portraying a Pelor faction, sure, recognise that the Raven Queen exists too (after all, you eventually will die), and maybe make a generous offering to her temple when you visit Nera or Gloomwrought, but otherwise you're not going to spend much effort on her, since she and Pelor aren't closely related. Erathis and Ioun, on the other hand, live in the same divine city as Pelor as co-rulers, so you may be more likely to have a small shrine to each of them off to the side in your Temple of Pelor.
 

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