View Full Version : Sorcerer Controller

04-17-2011, 10:08 AM
I am the GM of the group and one of the players plays a Sorcerer Controller and wants to be CG. I am having issue with it because he tends to use his charm evil characters to be his expendable meat shield.. Of course I'm allowing it because.. well he is using it for good purposes but it almost has an uneasy feel to it.. controlling someone.. to me almost seems evil in a way.. But that is just my perspective. Looking for other opinions.. I think it is conforming to what CG is but just needing some other opinions. Thanks

04-17-2011, 05:28 PM
well, it all depends on how you (the ultimate decision) define good. being that you have allowed it to slide so far will likely mean that desiring any change in the game parameter of "good" will result in the need for a discussion with the player previous to the change to work out any differences, and to give them a heads up so they can develop other tactics.

so. i will give you some thoughts on my take on good, and you are welcome to the bits you find useful and/or harmonious to your views. i have given a lot of thought as to what constitutes good, and what doesn't, because of my background and some of the things i have done and events that have transpired in my life. i have served as a minister and missionary, and had amicable discussions with folks from various backgrounds such as many different forms of christianity, buddism, shinto, wicca, daoist, islam, and more. what is good, was very much on the table for many of those discussions.

in my experience and learning, the definition of good consists basically of the ability to choose for one's self, growing that ability in self and others, and preserving that ability for self and others in all that we do. i believe that good means that life should be respected, and that we should avoid cutting it short, for we cannot replace a life we have taken or ended. i also believe that self-defense, only the minimal necessary, but even to the point of blood shed is also considered good. which makes for an interesting balance. in the case of charm, i think it wise to mention that i think that lying is not good. i think that i can skip further details for the point of this discussion, but i'm always open to further questions and discussions in another thread or in pm.

this results in the following definitions of good:

1) preserve the right to choose for all, self and others, in all choices we make.

2) respect life, avoid cutting it short for it cannot be replaced. there are some situations where ending a life does not violate good.

3) self defense, to the minimal necessary to succeed, but even up to the taking of a life, is permitted and is still considered good.

4) lying is not good.
so, as applies to your situation, i have several points:

does charm unavoidably take away their ability to choose? if yes, then charm is not a good act in any circumstances.

if no, then there are some situations where using charm could be a good act.

how this is decided is up to you as the gm, but assuming that the former answer is no, then using charm in self defense to prevent enemies from attacking you is still a good act. in my opinion, since charm is defined such that charmed individuals will not do something they would not normally consider doing, that meets my 'not taking away will clause'... but in essence it is deceitful, as it convinces the person you are a friend - a form of lying... thus it could be justified in self-defense - depending on the roleplaying aspect - but not in other situations by a "good" character.

for example, if i was trying to be a "pure good" character by my definition, then i would feel compelled to let the opponent know that they have been charmed, but i am using it in self-defense. this would satisfy my need to avoid lying by implication or effect, but still use charm in a useful way.

it does not sound from your brief that your player is using charm in this "good" fashion.

are they respecting life?in the case of your player, no, they are not. just because someone makes bad choices, does not mean that it is a good act to kill them, or allow them to be killed. besides, i'm pretty sure charm states within the definition that they will not die for someone or jump in front of danger, or put themselves in danger... (going from memory, not book). unless you have npcs who are, or can achieve, a state of pure evil or utter repudiation of good, then there will never be a situation where a good character can just kill something and it be considered "good".

(as a side note, even though d&d defines some races as "always y/z" alignment, i change those so that they match my beliefs that all sentient races/individuals get to choose for themselves. )

(side note #2: it just occurred to me that if this belief is taken to it's logical extreme, then the players would never take first initiative, in order to fulfill the self-defense clause. unless they could somehow ready an action so that when attacked they attack, thus using the interrupt mechanic to attack first... call it that they could sense the intention to attack or something. ^^)

are they defending themselves to the minimum necessary?again, no. your player is using other living sentient beings as expendable, breakable objects.

are they lying?

in my opinion, your player is using charm in such a fashion.

(side note: if everyone is on board, it can be quite fun to figure out ways to accomplish typical d&d rpg objectives without lying in any way. )

in conclusion, by the four definitions of good i have given, your player is not acting in a good fashion by all four definitions. i think that they are acting more in the form of a cunning chaotic evil, maybe the edge of chaotic neutral with decidedly evil leanings. as it happens, i don't believe in neutrality as an alignment in d&d nor in life, but that's another discussion. i hope my thoughts are helpful, even if you do not happen to find yourself in agreement with some or all of them.

04-17-2011, 06:10 PM
What he said.

More, there's D&D's operational definition: "'Good' implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others." (SRD Entry (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#goodVsEvil)) Charming folks into being living shields certainly disqualifies one as 'good,' under each of those standards.

04-17-2011, 08:44 PM
I would advise the group of the definitions of good, evil etc. and let them know that they can continue to play in whatever way they like and that their alignments will change to match their characters behavior, and then start gently nudging charecter towards a different alignment per their actions. Perhaps culminating into a main event that dramatically alters their characters alignments to better fit how they play. I would let the whole group know that you are keeping tabs on their alignments and that they can change over time to match how their characters are played, so he doesn’t feel singled out. One way I might suggest is to have a cursed item that would be irristable to him that changes the characters alignment, that way it can be pointed out no one MADE him use that item, but before you put in that cursed item previously put in different cursed items.

04-18-2011, 01:18 AM
i mean this jokingly, but if the player actions are one thing and the player claims are another, which alignment do you change? the action or the claim? ^^

04-18-2011, 05:08 AM
Charmed Meat Shields vs Zombies

If the charmed creatures are being used as nothing more than expendable meat shields, then I can see little difference between this action and slaying the creatures initially and then raising them as zombies - only the point of the initial slaying and controlling are swapped. If necromancy is not seen as an evil in your game, then no problem. If it is an evil act, then your Sorcerer Controller should explain why his actions are any different from a necromancers. Debate based on the assumption that 'the ends always justify the means' is rarely sustainable.

04-18-2011, 06:49 PM
This sounds like a 4e thread, but I guess the eternal question of alignment transcends all D&D editions.

I generally play that evil is redeemable, unless it is extra planar in origin. While a goblin or drow have natural tendencies toward evil, they can be taught a new way. A devil or demon is evil incarnate and can not be redeemed.

The D&D alignment system lends itself to a very black and white outlook of good/evil. As a result, many see evil as irredeemable. Even if a player has a very black and white outlook, it would still be better to kill evil outright than to use them for the supposed greater good.

P.S. Necromancy has always been generally considered a black forbidden art, and its essence evil.

04-20-2011, 05:40 AM
my recommendation is to think about it & if you decide it is not "Good" per se, jot down a few reasons why so, then ask the PC to "convince" you how it is good, if they cannot give you equal to or more reasons it is good (not BS reasons either, actual plausible reasons) then let them know that a C/G character doing those actions would be more likely C/N or C/E

My personal belief is that the act of charming to create meatshields is borderline metagaming & also not what a "good" character would think to do in most situations. (On a side note, I would think any Good PC's traveling with the Sorcerer would comment on this action as well)

04-22-2011, 11:59 AM
Thank you for all the replies. I was starting to think that maybe I was think too critically of what "good" is. I do have other PC's playing that do not agree the Sorcerer's line of thinking which is exactly what Pelendor metioned "it is a means to an end" which I personally dont agree with nor does two other PC's. Which the other two PC's are watching him very carefully and the Sorcerer is getting upset because he is on their side and will continue to be. So maybe CN alignment is a closer fit for the Sorcerers. The Sorcerer has saved both of the other PC's when I gave him chance to run without the other two knowing and he stayed. Both of the other PC's which one is a fighter who almost acts like a pally (wont even attack until attack twice is his rule) like the character but look upon him as if "waiting for the other shoe to drop" saying. I've had the discussion with the person playing the Sorcerer already and he just plainly explains that he will never use it on a good character even if they are charmed.. He goes on to explain he has no sympathy for and evil character and will use "the charmed" for the good. Once again, the outcome is good. He also debates that just as if a fighter kills slays evil he does too but he actually doubles it by using for a good deed before he is killed. I see the point but... uhhgg. lol

04-22-2011, 06:05 PM
well lets put it this way, if I had killed all of the Germans in Hitler's Army to prevent the Tyranny he created, I would still consider it an evil act, even if it was for the "Greater Good". Just because someone believes they are doing something for the greater good, does not mean their actions themselves are good, or that they themselves are good. You have to examine each action individually in this characters case, if he balances the good & bad, C/N is more appropriate as an Alignment.

04-23-2011, 10:27 AM
The very act of taking away sentient beings free will is in itself a morally dark area, even if the one doing it considers it good. Most villains will never consider themselves evil, and will justify their acts to themselves. The “Ends justify the means” after all. However it does sound like the player is closed minded when it comes to the nature of being good or evil. If he was of a more open minded sort I would suggest perhaps a campaign exploring the inherent nature of good and evil, or giving him a "cursed" sentient magic item that he wouldn’t want to get rid of that drawbacks compel it to act out only in the manor of a lawful good paladin. Such as when he "dominates" a sentient then he item tries to dominate him and if it succeeds then compels him to give the dominated creatures, good suggestions, i.e. work for good purposes, and harm no one. He could the hardly point out the item is an evil item, after all it harmed no one, why not even his character. However this might provide friction in the game.

Soft Serve
04-23-2011, 02:16 PM
i mean this jokingly, but if the player actions are one thing and the player claims are another, which alignment do you change? the action or the claim? ^^

Green Hornet claims to be a villain but he's ultimately good. Actions I say. (They speak louder anyway...)

I think the idea boils down to how it's used in context. Basically I'm settling for calling it an Unaligned spell. NOT NEUTRAL, just not yet aligned until it is actually used.

05-06-2011, 08:04 PM
There's a 3rd party book in the Encyclopedia Arcana about Enchantment. As discussed there, there are two schools of enchantment, charm and compulsion. Charm being more of a heightened diplomacy and compulsion as taking away a person's freewill. The removal of freewill is universally an evil act. If you understand what a charm spell does, it's influencing, not controlling. A person charmed still has the freewill to choose what to do.

In essence I guess I'm saying that, if the sorcerer is charming (charm denotation on the spell) and asking or prompting the charmed to protect, he is in the clear. If however he is asserting his will (compulsion denotation on the spell) he is taking away the will and forcing the shield therefore, evil.

05-08-2011, 11:29 AM
GabryellFall makes a good point, is this compulsion and mind control or just a charm? I guess I am still a bit confused here, is this a 3.x game and a weak 1st level spell? Has Charm person become unreasonably powerful in 4.0 or what you play?

This charm makes a humanoid creature regard you as its trusted friend and ally (treat the targetís attitude as friendly). If the creature is currently being threatened or attacked by you or your allies, however, it receives a +5 bonus on its saving throw.
The spell does not enable you to control the charmed person as if it were an automaton, but it perceives your words and actions in the most favorable way. You can try to give the subject orders, but you must win an opposed Charisma check to convince it to do anything it wouldnít ordinarily do. (Retries are not allowed.) An affected creature never obeys suicidal or obviously harmful orders, but it might be convinced that something very dangerous is worth doing. Any act by you or your apparent allies that threatens the charmed person breaks the spell. You must speak the personís language to communicate your commands, or else be good at pantomiming.

According to the NPC Attitude Table, a friendly character is willing to "chat, advise, offer limited help, and advocate." Fighting on your behalf is far more than friendly, only a helpful NPC (a step above friendly) would even consider it. You could use Diplomacy to make them helpful, which normally requires a full minute (10 consecutive uninterrupted full round actions). You could speed it up to a full-round action by taking a -10 penalty on the check. Then you must look realistically at diplomacy and what can really be done with it. I don't care if you do have +45 to that skill, the enemy is not going to turn sides and slaughter his family! Helpful will not: forget everything he knows, go against his views and alignment, change himself to become great buddies with your friends, ignore the world around him,(etc). Only an Epic character can turn a person into a fanatic follower, which is required to make somebody lay down their life for you or completely change their 'evil' outlook on life. It is then considered a mind-affecting compulsion.

Is the DM being a bit too lenient and allowing the player to abuse this spell? Put an end to it with prejudice! Let the character think he has a whole hoard of baddies under his sway, then they surround him and let their evil shine through at an inopportune moment! After they rape, brutalize or murder the character, he may change his mind on 'using' evil.

05-08-2011, 12:21 PM
Is the DM being a bit too lenient and allowing the player to abuse this spell? Put an end to it with prejudice! Let the character think he has a whole hoard of baddies under his sway, then they surround him and let their evil shine through at an inopportune moment! After they rape, brutalize or murder the character, he may change his mind on 'using' evil.
I completely disagree. It's better to sit down and have an adult conversation with the people involved, and come to a mutual understanding. In-game punishments aren't the best way to solve play style conflicts or game concept misunderstandings.

05-08-2011, 03:42 PM
Perhaps Sascha has a point, much less fun that way...

I guess it depends. Is it just a misunderstanding of all those involved? Has this evil cheating player just charmed the DM into believing he is like the DM, an honest good player?

Charm is like convincing that evil orc that you are like him. You are an evil mastermind and have devious plans that would benefit him by following your cue. The evil orc does not change, but believes for a moment that things are different and you are friends of a like mind. If you did make that orc helpful and then convince him to protect this caster, it wouldn't last long. He would take a couple points of damage and flee or see how stupid this plan was.

Wow, it sounds even more evil to convince somebody you are friends just to kill them!

It is also common belief, that like dominate person which is a much more powerful spell, any orders that would go against the targets nature or put them in harms way would give another will save with a bonus to negate the spell.

So this DM, now sees the truth. He gets another will save to break free of the beguiling charismatic players spell. He can probably decide how to proceed from there...