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I'm DMing 1e "Village of Hommlet" and I think Lareth the Beautiful would enjoy causing the (1st level PC) lawful good cleric to become evil. Can he do this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @sevenbrokenbricks Keep in mind that AD&D has canonical rules for DMs changing PC alignment — it's part of the game. (If unfamiliar with AD&D, it may be best to avoid assumptions about it.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 25 '18 at 21:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sevenbrokenbricks That proposed duplicate is about an unrelated game (Pathfinder vs AD&D 1st edition). I've removed the proposed duplicate comment. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 25 '18 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie has alignment itself really deviated that far in what it is and isn’t, though? \$\endgroup\$ – 40355 says Reinstate Monica Feb 25 '18 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sevenbrokenbricks Alignment is quite different between TSR D&D and WotC D&D — they use the same words, but the point/use of the alignment system is completely different. (In TSR it's literally which cosmic powers one is aligned with, hence the name & very different alignment-related rules. In WotC D&D it's increasingly a cosmetic choice.) As said, if unfamiliar with a game, best not to assume. AD&D and D&D 3 and later are basically unrelated games, just using the same names. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 25 '18 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aren't there some 2nd ed. artifacts that will change a character's alignment? \$\endgroup\$ – sirjonsnow Feb 26 '18 at 13:00
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No. Lareth the Beautiful is a 5th level cleric and has no spells or magic items which would allow him to force an alignment change.

Even with his 18 Charisma, he can do no more than ask nicely, but voluntarily changing your alignment in AD&D 1st edition is difficult. According to the Players Handbook:

While involuntary change of alignment is quite possible, it is very difficult for a character to voluntarily switch from one to another, except within limited areas. Evil alignment can be varied along the like axis. The neutral character can opt for some more specific alignment. Your referee will probably require certain stringent sacrifices and appropriate acts — possibly a quest as well — for any other voluntary alignment change. In fact, even axial change within evil or good, or radial movement from neutrality may require strong proofs of various sorts.

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I'm DMing 1e "Village of Hommlet" and I think Lareth the Beautiful would enjoy causing the (1st level PC) lawful good cleric to become evil. Can he do this?

Not as the module is written. He'd have to establish himself as a friend first, then work to gain influence.

Convincing someone to do something is quite different than completely changing someone's nature.

A sea change like that requires the players to take actions that are not in line with their alignment over time, or some specific event that breaks their personality.

An NPC might look to convince and manipulate a player into an alignment shift by influencing them into actions that are contrary to their alignment. This takes far more time than just a conversation, and it helps if they are friendly. It's much harder for someone who is considered an enemy to have this kind of influence. (Not that it's in the same genre at all but to give you an idea...think Anakin Skywalker and the Senator Palpatine--he got Anakin to do darker and darker deeds, but had to be a friend first and trusted).

And, it's more than one step to get from LG to Evil of any kind. Got to at least get through Neutral.

One speech should not totally screw with player agency.

Even if it could, this is one of those things that can make a character totally unplayable (akin to killing them with a dice roll) and even worse it messes with player agency--because this is basically a way of making them do or become something YOU want them to.

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Possible, but incredibly difficult

In the AD&D 2e Greyhawk Adventures From the Ashes Campaign Book, an NPC named Garakander Talmord is a mercenary whose evil alignment can be changed towards good by PCs interacting meaningfully with him. It is set up as a roleplay opportunity with potential XP rewards, and I remember other such roleplay opportunities in other official sources.

The AD&D 1e DMG (p24-25) has this to say:

It is quite possible for a character drift around in an alignment area, making only small shifts due to behaviour. However, any major action which is out of alignment character will cause a major shift to the alignment which is directly in line with the action.

But qualifies this with:

A glance at the alignment chart will show that radical alignment change is impossible without magical means. If one is chaotic good, it is possible to change to neutral good or chaotic neutral only, depending upon desire and/or actions.

Also, the AD&D 2e DMG (p28) has this to say about changing alignment:

Sooner or later, a player character will change alignment.

Player characters are imaginary people, but like real people, they grow and change as their personalities develop. Sometimes circumstances conspire against the player character. Sometimes the player has a change of attitude. Sometimes the personality created for the player character just seems to pull in an unexpected direction. These are natural changes. There might be more cause for concern if no player character ever changes alignment in a campaign.

It expands on this topic over two entire pages. So, yes, it is definitely possible for an external influence to affect a PC's alignment. In the case of deliberate change (the player deciding to switch because s/he no longer wants to play the original alignment), the change can be quick or slow.

But how likely is it for Lareth to effect this change? Keeping the following limitations in mind:

  1. Example provided is PC affecting NPC aligment. This situation is an NPC affecting a PC.

  2. Time. Usually alignment change takes place over a long period of time. The encounter with Lareth is essentially a boss fight, not a long-term interaction.

  3. Consequences for alignment change. There are serious ramifications for PCs changing alignment. Immediate loss of 1 level (1e), XP cost for the next level doubles (2e), paladins lose their abilities and class, clerics may have to change their god and/or lose spellcasting abilities, etc.

Lareth, with his 18 Charisma, can certainly influence a LG cleric PC to change alignment, especially if the player is so inclined. However, once the player understands the consequences to his character, they might no longer be interested. Also, as the scenario is set up as a boss battle, the PCs will most likely never give Lareth any opportunity to say more than a few words before initiating combat, making his Cha 18 moot.

You, as DM, will have to seriously consider how to avoid this typical outcome if you want your proposal to work. You will also have to work with the player to see if they want to change alignment. It isn't going to happen without their cooperation in this situation.

A well-played Lareth could overwhelm the PCs, especially if they are still 1st level when they encounter him. A successful Hold Person spell is obscene in AD&D, taking out up to 3 PCs, and he can cast 2 of these. This would give him the opportunity to display his power, monologue to the PCs (evil overlord style), and try to convert the characters to evil.

For 1e, since voluntary radical alignment change is not possible, the LG cleric can only become LN or NG, without allowing an immediate change to evil. The rules don't forbid a two-step process though, meaning a gradual change might be possible. You would have to decide to allow first a change to LN or NG, then to LE or NE. This would impose 2 lost levels, according to 1e rules.

For 2e, the alignment change process is more straightforward.

Edit: Apologies, did not see the 1e in the question. Have modified answer to account for stricter 1e rules.

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