Saturday, June 12, 2010

Detect Evil Sucks

I'm really sick of detect evil and detect alignment spells. I think these spells are roleplay crushers which yank pc's out of the act of roleplaying and into a tactical method of gaming even when confronting humans. I like to add mysteries and conspiracies to my games, but I have to go to great lengths to think about how to avoid a single detect evil spell from ruining the conspiracy that I am creating.

Instead of using roleplaying to try and solve mysteries many times my PC's will go right for detecting evil on everything - figure out what is bad and kill it. Also, with paladins in the party my group enters a dark room or something, and the paladin will try and use a detect evil spell to determine if there are enemies in the room. I'd rather the PC's resort to using their heads and try strange little tricks to decipher where the enemies are instead of getting to the door, casting a detect evil spell and saying - oh sure, there's some bad stuff in there, lets go heal up quick before we go through this door.

For my next DnD campaign - whatever actual system I decide to run, I'm going to use the simple Law, Neutral, and Chaos system of alignment and I'm not going to allow any detection of moral compass. To replace these slots for clerics I will give them more augury spells and maybe detect undead or detect extraplanar entity spells. This seems justified in that undead and extraplanar entities are not from this world and may radiate negative energy or leave some planar strands or marks that priests could identify by calling on certain magics.

I think this will also increase the power of telepathy spells, clarivoyance, clairaudience, etc... because in order to "divine" an NPC's intentions they will have to do more than cast detect alignment and then make a snap decision about who the NPC is. Using auguries might let the GM drop interesting hints to help the PC's without cutting to the chase and revealing the entire mystery or conspiracy that he is trying to weave. I think humans are more complex in their motivations than a simple good and evil bucketing allows for.

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