I am DM'ing the official adventure "Expedition to the Demonweb Pits". As the game progresses the party (Human paladin, LG Dwarf cleric, N Human rogue) will find themselves in a situation where:

They have to run away from the abyss. They will meet a night hag and she is the only person who knows the way out. The night hag will demand either on of the party member's souls or an evil giant's who lives nearby. Of course any party would choose to give the giant's soul to the night hag.

My question is: If the party chooses to go through with this, should the paladin's and cleric's alignments change? (Which would make the paladin become fallen)


closed as primarily opinion-based by Sdjz, Oblivious Sage, Jamie Brace, ShadowKras, Wibbs Jul 25 '18 at 17:45

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    \$\begingroup\$ Questions on alignment are generally off-topic: Alignment is just too slippery a concept. Rephrasing the question so it's not about alignment but about religion—like to Does Helm's doctrine make it so Helm's followers can behave in this way without risking divine retribution? or something like that—may stave off closure, but I can offer no guarantees. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 25 '18 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ should, alignment and change in the same sentence is a recipe to close votes. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jul 25 '18 at 16:42

The question of "should this character's alignment change?" is always difficult to answer, and we can't really answer it here. (I'd argue that, if the characters don't particularly want to perform the evil act, but it's their only way to survive, that should be less likely to mean it's an alignment change.)

But "is this particular act an evil act, such as would cause a paladin to Fall?" is an easier question. Making deals with evil creatures is pretty evil, and trading in souls is definitely evil. If your paladin goes along with this, I think he's in trouble.

-- and, by the way, this is the sort of trouble that should be clearly telegraphed. If the paladin goes to extract the giant's soul, he should be able to feel that what he's doing is deeply evil and is going to put his paladin status at risk. For a bad consequence of this magnitude, you should make sure that the paladin doesn't stumble into it by accident.

But I think the question you're really asking is something different. You're asking: "hey, isn't this kind of awful for the paladin, to be put in a spot where he has to lose his paladin status to survive? As the DM, should I really be doing this?"

The answer is: yes, that's pretty awful, and no, you shouldn't be doing this. Your paladin will try to find a solution to this problem that doesn't involve committing an evil act and losing his paladin status. Maybe he'll try intimidating the hag into giving the group the answer anyway; maybe he'll try bargaining and offering something other than a soul; maybe the group will attack the hag. Heck, maybe he'll pray for divine guidance.

Whatever the paladin does, you should try very hard to let it work -- ie, try to let him find a solution that will let the party escape without violating his code of conduct.

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    \$\begingroup\$ At that point, a true paladin would be offering up HIS soul in exchange for their freedom, as that is an option and the only one that does not hurt others (if they can't otherwise deal with the situation). This is still a situation that is best avoided at all costs, though. A player should not be forced with the two scenarios of suicide or changing classes. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 25 '18 at 17:00

Almost Unquestionably Evil

Alignment questions are usually pretty sticky, but this one is fairly clear cut. The Book of Vile Darkness contains a section on "Evil Acts." I believe I can't quote it here because it is not OGL (correct me if I'm wrong, but see page 8 if you have access), but there are two basic problems here.

Harming a Soul

Evil problem number one is that this party is considering harming a soul. Now, the soul is of a giant. Since he's in the Abyss, it's a good bet that he's an evil giant. But he still has a soul, and I don't think the Hag is going to be doing good things to his soul, particularly since she doesn't seem to care which soul she gets. Bad things are going to happen to his soul, and your party wants to aid in that.

Dealing with Fiends

Making a deal with a fiend is always an evil act. Now, there are very, very minor ways of dealing with fiends that mean that the evil done is very, very minor. There are no real guidelines about how evil you have to be before your alignment changes, but most DMs I have dealt with would not cause a simple trade like this to be a full-on "now you're evil" sort of deal (ignoring the soul aspect for a moment, I mean. That's pretty solidly evil).

Your Paladin isn't so lucky. He doesn't have to become evil to fall. He doesn't have to even become neutral so fall. He just has to willfully commit an evil act. This deal is just bad news for him all around.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Quotes are acceptable. (In fact, a quote from an OGL source does not have any special difference from a quote from a non-OGL source, as the OGL’s limits/benefits only kick in when including a copy of the entire OGL statement in the post—which would be absurd.) Quotes for teaching purposes are explicitly protected by Fair Use doctrine in the US and similar doctrines in other countries. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 25 '18 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Good to know! I'll add some quotes after work, assuming someone doesn't beat me to the punch. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael W. Jul 25 '18 at 16:41

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