And, as is mentioned in the rules themselves, final arbitration of what constitutes a good or evil act, and something significant enough to alter your alignment, rests with the DM.
|Of course you can do that. What was your alignment restriction, again?|
Casting Evil Spells Is, In Fact, an Evil Action
One of the more divisive arguments surrounding alignment has been the use of spells that come from the other side of the axis. For example, how many times can a good character create undead minions before the inherent evil of the spell sinks into his soul? In the past, we had no answer to this question, so people instead focused on arguing that it's the intention of the spell, rather than the spell itself, that should be judged. Players argued repeatedly that raising the dead in this manner was only evil if you used them for evil ends; if you had your zombies and skeletons protect the innocent, or fight off greater evil, then you should get to maintain your good alignment.
Unfortunately, page 110 of Horror Adventures disagrees with those who hold this position.
|No, Steve, I don't care if they're building an orphanage. You're violating their bodily autonomy.|
The sidebar on this page makes it abundantly clear that the alignment descriptor of a spell isn't just flavor; it has actual effects on those who regularly use them. So, if you're a good-aligned character, but you just can't resist those evil spells, you won't be good-aligned much longer. In-character you may feel that what you did was justified, and that wielding fell powers is perfectly all right in the service of a greater good, but mechanically you are going to lose your good alignment.
How fast? Well, if you are casting these spells in relatively quick succession, then two is all it should take to move you from good to neutral. Three or more spells is all it takes to move you from non-good to outright evil. Generally speaking, the more time you wait between these spells (time that can be used in meditation, or just re-aligning your own internal beliefs and motivations), the more those numbers reset to zero. If a spell requires the sacrifice of a sentient being, though, that is an evil act, and typically shifts the caster's alignment straight to evil.
Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 gp.
Evil, is Evil, is Evil
A thing that should be stressed when it comes to the rules is that when an act is described as inherently evil, there is no wiggle room. The existence of angels and devils means that good and evil are not just opinions in this game; they are facts. Regardless of what you as a player think, or what your character thinks, there are forces in the universe that have decided what is, and what is not, an evil act. Those who commit those evil acts, regardless of the reasons they had for doing it, are still stained by the inherent evil of those acts.
And it goes the other way, too. Inherent goodness infects evildoers, guiding them out of the shadows and into the light. Good, is good, is good, in those circumstances.
|And chaos is... chaos?|
The key word in these statements is the word inherently. Evil magic is, by definition, evil. It does not matter why you put your hand in it, you are still tainted by it. There are very few actions that are listed as inherently good, evil, lawful, or chaotic. Most things that a character does will be open to interpretation and discussion with the DM. However, if the book expressly lists a given action as evil, then committing it is still an evil act.
You cannot maintain your lawful good alignment if you sacrificed an infant on an altar of the Old Ones. No matter how many lives you saved by doing it.
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