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Do you think certain magic is actually evil?

unavailableunavailable Member Posts: 265
The game doesn't hold the player to any standards, but I've noticed the way certain enemies are quite fond of monster summoning and mental domination.

The drow summoned non-drow quite to be meat shield quite often, especially sendai.

The slavers mansion in the temple district are fairly drow-like, they trap the lower floor with traps of monster and demon summoning.

Vampires all love to dominate your friends so they attack you.

Liches are more than happy to send people to slow, withering death with the imprisonment spell

All of these enemies are evil aligned, and they're certainly less than compassionate in their use of magic.

So, do you think a good aligned character with a wand of monster summoning, or a few mental dominations is a bit of a hypocrite? It's fairly obvious that evil aligned enemies don't really follow any rules or sense of compassion when it comes to magic, and to be fair there are other games such as prey and dishonored which are much better at letting the player be non-lethal if they choose. Since non-lethal is rarely possible in baldurs gate, what are the less inhumane ways of defeating or killing your enemies? The evil enemies tend to favor exploitation and slow deaths, so is it just a case of doing the opposite of them? Don't use summons, and kill as quickly as possible?

Comments

  • ArtonaArtona Member Posts: 1,077
    "Good" and "evil" in Baldur's Gate seems to be a matter of picking a team, not some strict moral rules. Sure, one side is more inclined to compassion, and other to cruelty, but I don't think monster summonings or mental dominations are good or evil.

    ThacoBell
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    In 3.0, an effort was made to figure out which spells are inherently evil, and which are good. Very few are truly aligned, with things like Fireball and Domination being understood to be neutral by nature, as they can be used for good or ill. Obviously any spell with the (evil) descriptor is evil, and vice versa.

    The really short answer: Anything that summons/calls fiends is evil, anything that summons/calls celestials is good. Anything that channels negative energy is supposed to be evil, as it makes the world literally more dead, while channeling positive makes the world more alive. Negative energy creates undead, positive creates deathless.

    Spells that inherently created suffering, IE withering a limb, were considered evil too, and those creating joy or alleviating suffering were supposed to default to good.

    semiticgoddess
  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,996
    Remember, if fireballs are outlawed, boy outlaws will have fireballs.

    Spells would be tools in FR, just like electricity or chemicals are here. Certain things are pretty obvious, though. Summoning demons would be evil, and a good cleric casting Death (the opposite of Resurrection) has got some explaining to do.

    Magic is just a tool, a way to concentrate energy to a point to get a job done. It's amazing how some people have so little understanding of how things get done. When I was in college, back during the Cold War, some art major was ranting again the US having nuclear missiles. (That the Soviet Union had them didn't seem to concern her, but hey, if you can't trust Russian oligarchs, ...) At one point she even said that someone, and she never said who, should ban all forms of nuclear energy. I said "Well, there goes all the plant life on Earth." Because, you know, that whole fusion thing. And apparently I was an idiot. You can reason with a college activist. You can reason with a rattlesnake, too, for all the good it does.



    ThacoBellMontresor_SP
  • ZaramMaldovarZaramMaldovar Member Posts: 2,270
    I don't really think most magic is inherently evil. Exceptions are the summoning of Fiends and Demonic creatures. What matters in the intent behind the spells

    If a NG Necromancer summons a horde of undead monsters to fight a great evil and save a town from destruction, he's probably going to get shunned by the townsfolk, but what he did was good.

    ThacoBell
  • inkblowoutinkblowout Member Posts: 49
    I think it matters how you intend to use it.

    I mean look at Irenicus and how he used his magic... The man tortures you and also uses his power to get what he wants (the killing of the shadow thieves/cowled wizards in the beginning.)

    I mean even spells like "power word kill" can be used by good characters. It's just reasons why it would make you a good person or not.

    Which brings me up with the famous quote from spiderman we've all heard.

    "With great power comes great responsibility"

    ZaramMaldovar
  • bdtgazobdtgazo Member Posts: 46
    I think you mean inherently evil?

    Yes. Yes I do.

  • DurenasDurenas Member Posts: 505
    Magic is not evil. Mystra is neutral and she literally is magic.

    ThacoBell
  • bdtgazobdtgazo Member Posts: 46
    I have a hard time justifying animate dead when I'm playing a good toon.

    DreadKhantbone1BelgarathMTH
  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,996
    bdtgazo said:

    I have a hard time justifying animate dead when I'm playing a good toon.

    Years ago in a PnP game, I was playing a priest of Odin and got severely punished for an Animate Dead. Because it came from Valhalla and Odin/DM decided that was definitely NOT in the diety's best interest.


  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 2,147
    bdtgazo said:

    I have a hard time justifying animate dead when I'm playing a good toon.

    In BG the skellies seem to be very cheerful, they laugh a lot.
    In BG2 not so much though they stick around with you along time so it can't be all bad for them.

    Perhaps they are really, really bored being dead and enjoy a change of scenery?
    So maybe you are doing them a favour?

    tbone1mf2112
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,160
    bdtgazo said:

    I have a hard time justifying animate dead when I'm playing a good toon.

    I always figured you were just animating the bones, not calling the spirit back from whatever afterlife they are in. As a tool they can do much good. Would letting a village get overrun by orcs be morally superior to summoning skeletons to protect it?

  • fatelessfateless Member Posts: 330
    The spell itself is not inherently evil. How it is put to use very easily can be. For example how are you coming in possession of the bodies to be used? What if any are the laws about necromancy? Perhaps a discussion with the DM before the game really starts about how they view the effects of it. Because simply instilling magic in a body to make it work for you is no different from animating any other physical object (which there are spells for even if we don't get them in most video games). While things involving the spirit or soul being imprisoned in the body to make it work can be considered evil.

    Or is it something more similar to Dragon Age where to make such things your inhabiting them with spirits that are inherently malicious on some level that makes it evil?

    What is the particular culture's view on it? There have been places in official settings where doing such things may be considered a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Or even somewhat vital to their defense. To the point that some might feel that it's an honour to be used in such a capacity. Where others are so against it that they restrict or sensor to some degree Necromantic spells that are largely only beneficial and have no part in creating undead because of it because it's all seen as a horrible crime against nature. So even a person using something like cure wounds would be registered or mildly suspect in such a culture. likely making them a place of low magical healing.

    This one point can have some surprising ramifications on settings so it can be good to ask about.

    ThacoBell
  • DurenasDurenas Member Posts: 505
    whether or not it is illegal to animate a skeleton in the region you are in should not be a factor in deciding whether animating a skeleton is good or evil. law and chaos are different axes of alignment from good and evil.

    Mortianna
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    In some editions it is evil actually, as it uses negative energy, and is kinda desecrating the dead. Skeleton Warriors are very intelligent, retaining martial skills and typically they hate their creator (and can be dangerous to them). Note Skeleton Warriors are NE, so creating one would be evil imho. Normal skellies though should have no connection to their old self other than coincidentally using their physical remains.

    tbone1
  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 2,072
    edited August 2017
    It's easy to know whether some spell is evil. Does it have the [Evil] tag? If no, then it's not evil. If yes, then it is inherently evil.

    fateless said:

    What is the particular culture's view on it?

    What people think is evil or bad has nothing to do with it when the setting has actual, objectively existing moral absolutes. There is an actual elemental plane of evil, the negative energy plane. Evil and Good are not societal constructions, but part of the natural laws of physics of the setting. There are things that are Good, and things that are Evil. People inhabiting the setting may think ice cream is evil, but it is not. People may think creating undead is good or neutral, but it is not. It is Evil. Big, bold, capitalised first letter Evil. People do not decide.

  • BorekBorek Member Posts: 513
    Obviously it's going to depend on the culture whether it's deemed evil to cast certain spells. I'd say that the vast majority of Necromancy spells and anything involving the lower planes is inherently evil.

    Sure you can use those spells for non-selfish ends, but 1 deals with corruption of the flesh, the other corruption of the soul, no grey area IMO.

  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 2,072
    Borek said:

    Obviously it's going to depend on the culture whether it's deemed evil to cast certain spells.

    Whether it's deemed evil by said culture, yes, but not whether it is. Human viewpoints are not allwise or allknowing, they do not have the overview of the setting that we have.

    Morality in DnD is absolute, not relative. This is just the way it is. It is how the setting was written. Good and Evil is as elementary to it as Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Good and Evil are literally - and this is the literal use of the word literally here - they are literally part of the natural laws of the worlds. And they are absolute and objective poles. You may not think you are Good or Evil, you might not understand why you are Good or Evil, but what any one person thinks is irrelevant to what the setting says is Good or Evil.

    This is why you pick an alignment at character creation. This is why some spells have different effects depending on alignment. This is why some spell have the [Evil] or [Good] tags.

    This is just the way the setting is put together. I don't believe in this kind of universal morality in the real world. But it is the way DnD works.

  • unavailableunavailable Member Posts: 265
    edited August 2017
    In other words the gods are like politicians and lawyers, and if you make them really mad they'll sic a pack of beat cops on you to cuff you and read you your rights.

  • fatelessfateless Member Posts: 330
    evil and good tags didn't exist in second edition and they don't exist in 5th either. The most any of them really had. Were the 4 elements and a couple like Alchemy or Song.

    Also while the negative plane was tied to things like undead it wasn't entirely evil. There are alignment planes for that. One for each of the 9 alignments.

    Also as the editions have gone on the negative plane doesn't exist anymore. Neither does the positive plane. Certain aspects have been wrapped into other planes but their overarching nature is gone.

    Morality is also not quite as absolute in every setting of D&D as you make them out to be. While more codified and material in certain things like Forgotten Realms. It is not as much so in others. Dark Sun for example it was far more codified by harmony or destruction of what little natural resources were remaining on an ailing world than what typically might be considered moral or amoral by our standards, And Eberon outright turns some of the common misconceptions on their head while making issues like Morality almost as complicated as the politics.

    There is also the fact that while you make pick an alignment at creation that alignment can chance in D&D even if BG doesn't allow for that capacity for the most part.

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    edited August 2017
    Yeah, the sourcebooks from 3.x are pretty clear than undead animation is evil, while deathless animation is good. This doesn't mean you can't have a certain undead be neutral or even good (note how pretty much all intelligent undead default to evil in 3.x, this is not a coincidence) in some circumstances, but spells that use negative energy tend to be evil, which again is why rebuke undead is used instead of turn undead, because its channeling negative energy.

    Note also pretty much all intelligent undead are evil in 2nd (I can think of only Crypt Things being neutral), and evil clerics turning works differently.

    Edit: if you still doubt that Negative Energy is evil, why are Negative Energy Elementals CE?

  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,996

    In other words the gods are like politicians and lawyers, and if you make them really mad they'll sic a pack of beat cops on you to cuff you and read you your rights.

    Have been audited, can confirm.

  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,307
    if summoned creatures are good and they're willfully summoned to be killed, than it's evil. if they're neutral it's also evil, but if they're sacrificed to fight evil, than it's not evil (but might not be particularly good either), and if they're evil, it's never evil for them to die

  • DurenasDurenas Member Posts: 505

    In other words the gods are like politicians and lawyers, and if you make them really mad they'll sic a pack of beat cops on you to cuff you and read you your rights.

    The gods themselves are similarly bound by the constraints of alignment. Both Kelemvor and Mystra(Midnight) got in trouble shortly after their ascension in the Godswar(better known as the Time of Troubles). Kelemvor remade the fugue plane to be less dreary and more appealing. Midnight cut off people from the weave who she didn't approve of. Both of them were 'Good' but their divine portfolios were neutral, and Cyric rightly charged both of them of excessive humanity. They were censured by Ao, and Kelemvor changed the fugue plane back to being a dreary place, and Mystra, basically abandoned, was forced to restore magic to evil people.

    semiticgoddess
  • unavailableunavailable Member Posts: 265
    Durenas said:

    In other words the gods are like politicians and lawyers, and if you make them really mad they'll sic a pack of beat cops on you to cuff you and read you your rights.

    The gods themselves are similarly bound by the constraints of alignment. Both Kelemvor and Mystra(Midnight) got in trouble shortly after their ascension in the Godswar(better known as the Time of Troubles). Kelemvor remade the fugue plane to be less dreary and more appealing. Midnight cut off people from the weave who she didn't approve of. Both of them were 'Good' but their divine portfolios were neutral, and Cyric rightly charged both of them of excessive humanity. They were censured by Ao, and Kelemvor changed the fugue plane back to being a dreary place, and Mystra, basically abandoned, was forced to restore magic to evil people.
    Okay. Not sure how I feel about this. On one hand it is less simple than the good/evil names indicate. More to it than jedi vs sith for sure. Near as I can tell there is nothing I can really compare it to. It's like a form of government except it can't necessarily be defined by borders on a map, and I suppose good and evil and conscience has a part in it or else there wouldn't be any need to specifically label alignments as such.

  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,148
    The Cruciatus curse, Avardacadarva curse and the Imperius curse are evil in the Harry Potter books and movies. I guess that would translate to Symbol Pain, Death Spell, Power Word Kill, Symbol Death, Finger of Death, Domination, Dire Charm and a few more I'm probably forgetting.

    BelgarathMTHtbone1
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,639
    As a good character, I usually won't cast the spells that @Balrog99 mentions, Horrid Wilting, or Animate Dead. I used to try to rationalize Animate Dead with my good clerics, and Horrid Wilting with my good mages, because those skellies are so darned effective and long-lasting, and Horrid Wilting is arguably the best offensive spell in the game, but it just feels wrong. As Obi-Wan and Yoda say, "Trust your feelings. You will know."

    tbone1
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,148

    As a good character, I usually won't cast the spells that @Balrog99 mentions, Horrid Wilting, or Animate Dead. I used to try to rationalize Animate Dead with my good clerics, and Horrid Wilting with my good mages, because those skellies are so darned effective and long-lasting, and Horrid Wilting is arguably the best offensive spell in the game, but it just feels wrong. As Obi-Wan and Yoda say, "Trust your feelings. You will know."

    I must say that if I had to choose, I'd pick Finger of Death, Disintegrate or Power Word Death as the way to be snuffed. Horrid Wilting, Dragon's Breath, Comet, Fireball, being eviscerated by any number and type of summons, Poison, Cloudkill and Cone of Cold/Icestorm all sound incredibly painful! I guess if you're a truly good wizard you'd never leave your lab...

    ThacoBellBelgarathMTH
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