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I am confused as to what spells exactly clerics are and are not allowed to cast.

What I do understand for spell descriptors

  • Good VS Evil
  • Lawful VS Chaotic

Cleric Spells

Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells A cleric can't cast spells of an alignment opposed to her own or her deity's (if she has one). Spells associated with particular alignments are indicated by the chaotic, evil, good, and lawful descriptors in their spell descriptions.

What I do not understand is the other descriptors. For instance the spell Slay Living is a necromancy [death] spell, but its not an alignment spell. So would a Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic Good cleric be allowed to cast it? Or is death a descriptor thats "evil"?

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The only aligned spells are those that have the appropriate alignment descriptor. That’s what it’s for. No descriptor is a “subset” of another (well, Fear is a subset of Mind-Affecting, but fear effects still include both descriptors, they don’t usually assume you know it). Death effects are not inherently evil, and Good-aligned clerics can cast death spells like slay living.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I had input from others is what was really confusing me. At first I was being told that necromancy was always evil, despite there being some very friendly necromancy spells like gentle repose. So once I started clearing things up I was still a bit confused and wanted to make sure. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Sep 20 '16 at 2:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering What they meant, most likely, is that undead-animating spells are always evil, which I believe is true but isn’t actually a rule anywhere, just an observation about all the undead-animating spells having the Evil descriptor. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 20 '16 at 2:09

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