I have a Tiefling character. Being a Tiefling, she is half-demon and her demonic nature is in her personality, i.e., she has a contempt for structure, law, and society and enjoys seeing others in pain.

But because of her nature, she also likes to spite people, so she forces herself to be a stand-up citizen to fight stereotypes, i.e., she follows laws and customs and helps anyone in need.

The question comes to: for a spell like Detect Good/Evil, would the caster see that she would do the right thing (even though she doesn't really want to) or would they see that she doesn't want to do the right thing (even though she will)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please note that questions about "what alignment is person/act/society X" are off topic due to subjectivity, see meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/5357/… for more. I'm afraid this question will remain closed as a result. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jun 28 '18 at 2:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question isn't asking "What alignment is Goku?", which is subjective because it's not covered by any rules. It's asking "Does alignment refer to philosophy, or actions?", which is objectively covered in Pathfinder's rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jun 28 '18 at 2:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I fail to see how that meta question says this is subjective. Look at the last part of the Question again: "The question comes to: for a spell like Detect Good/Evil, would the caster see that she would do the right thing (even though she doesn't really want to) or would they see that she doesn't want to do the right thing (even though she will)?" It asks about an objectively-defined spell and an objectively-defined mechanic. \$\endgroup\$ – SeraphsWrath Jun 28 '18 at 2:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've opened such a question on meta here. I believe that it's a valid question because the Pathfinder rules provide the answer, and questions about alignment rules are valid. The question isn't really asking "what alignment do you think this character is," which would be intrinsically subjective, but rather, "does alignment refer to philosophy, or actions?" and that is unambiguously covered by the Pathfinder rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jun 28 '18 at 3:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. Further discussion should go in the meta please. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jun 28 '18 at 4:49

The Mechanical Alignment is the "Internal" Alignment

The extremely simplistic rules in Pathfinder/D&D are hardly apt at describing complicated social situations, and they are better applied to issues like the mechanics of certain spells which take input and get output.

Mechanically, a creature can only hold one alignment, which is the "internal" alignment mentioned in the question.

A creature's general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment: lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, lawful neutral, neutral, chaotic neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, or chaotic evil.


Each alignment has a list of philosophies or doctrines that characters may follow, together with a list of core concepts to bear in mind while playing a character of a given alignment. You could decide that one word is particularly crucial to your character—be that justice, greed, or self.


The Mechanical Alignment used to determine the outcomes of magic like Detect Evil. In the situation you present, Detect Evil would always reveal the character as Evil because it senses the character's true intentions and is not baffled by social interactions.

You can sense the presence of evil. The amount of information revealed depends on how long you study a particular area or subject.

1st Round: Presence or absence of evil.

2nd Round: Number of evil auras (creatures, objects, or spells) in the area and the power of the most potent evil aura present.

If you are of good alignment, and the strongest evil aura’s power is overwhelming (see below), and the HD or level of the aura’s source is at least twice your character level, you are stunned for 1 round and the spell ends.

3rd Round: The power and location of each aura. If an aura is outside your line of sight, then you discern its direction but not its exact location.


This is the Alignment you put on your character sheet. Not what people see, but what it is mechanically.

Socially, however, it's much more complicated. Some people would see the Tiefling feeding the Hungry and think, "Oh, what a nice person." They think they're Good.

Some people would see them and be suspicious, either through preexisting biases or because they notice something "off." This is where a Check comes in, typically Performance or Deception versus the other party's Insight.

However, in either case, this does not affect what is on the Character Sheet, and does not affect Detect Evil.

Pretending to be Good in order to be Evil does not change the fact that, in Pathfinder at least, you are still Evil, unless your character radically and fundamentally shifts the way that they think over the experience and stops "Pretending," which is something that you should resolve with your GM.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jun 28 '18 at 2:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ This was flagged by a high-rep user as "not an answer." I have no idea whether this is correct or not, but it certainly seems to be an attempt to answer the question. The first few lines, though, do not seem to address the question, so I'm editing them out. I suggest you post them as comments or flesh them out into an answer on this post's related meta. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 28 '18 at 3:55

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