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It has been established that using spells with the [evil] descriptor are evil acts (duh), and raising/using undead is evil (understandable). My question is, does using negative energy in any form constitute an evil act?

Examples:

  • Rebuking/commanding undead?

  • Powering a divine feat like DMM?

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The Player's Handbook says, "Even if a cleric is neutral, channeling positive energy is a good act and channeling negative energy is evil" (160).

The Divine Metamagic feat, in part, says, "As a free action, you can take the energy from turning or rebuking undead and use it to apply a metamagic feat to divine spells that you know" (Complete Divine 80). The phrase take the energy sounds, to this reader, like shorthand for take the positive or negative energy, that, in turn, sounds suspiciously close to normal channeling of negative or positive energy—making the act of taking the energypossibly—evil or good, depending on the flavor of energy. However, a DM can totally rule otherwise, and another reader may read this in a wholly different way.

Note that documented, actually-called-out-as-evil evil acts are incredibly rare in the core rules—so far as I'm aware it's just this evil act and "trying to dupe someone into buying a cursed item" (Dungeons Master's Guide 277). Further, given the seemingly capricious way in which spells seem to have been given the descriptor evil—the inoffensive 1st-level Clr spell deathwatch [necro] (PH 217) possesses the descriptor evil, for instance—in some campaigns not even casting a spell that possesses the descriptor evil will be an evil act.

In other words, while the rules say that channeling negative energy is an evil act and, therefore,—maybe, by extension—taking the energy from rebuke attempts to power divine feats is also an evil act, expect table variation, especially if—like in many campaigns—the role of alignment is vastly reduced or even eliminated completely.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is inflict also an evil act? I think that alone should be the basis of the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering May 10 '19 at 1:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering -- The inflict spells are not [evil] descriptored \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay May 10 '19 at 1:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering The inflict spells lack the descriptor evil, and the cure spells lack the descriptor good, but I'm unsure how that's relevant. However, I look forward to your answer that tackles the subject. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 10 '19 at 1:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan It looks like Quadratic Wizard answered in the way I was going to later today \$\endgroup\$ – Fering May 10 '19 at 14:56
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Negative energy is not inherently evil, but some uses of it are.

Channelling negative energy is an evil act (Player's Handbook p.160), as is the negative-energy using spell curse water (p.216).

However, not all uses of negative energy are stated to be evil.

The spells touch of fatigue, enervation, ghoul touch and inflict light wounds are described as using negative energy, but do not have the [evil] descriptor, meaning they are not inherently evil.

The negative energy plane (DMG p.157) is described as antithetical to life, but it is not evil-aligned.

The spell negative energy aura (Planar Handbook p.101) is not an [evil] spell. Entropic creatures (Planar Handbook p.123), which use negative energy, are not specifically evil.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Lacking an [evil] descriptor does not mean that a spell is not inherently evil-- spells with alignment descriptors are inherently of those alignments, but that doesn't mean that other spells aren't inherently of those alignments. For example, let's say our campaign has evil defined as redness and good defined as blueness. Spells with the [good] descriptor, then, must inherently increase or otherwise augment the amount of blue in the world (since they are inherently good), but even though the spell Arcane Sight doesn't have the good descriptor it is still inherently good in such a world \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil May 10 '19 at 2:26

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