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Alignment is a concept of nine facets along two axes that broadly defines and classifies entities by their morality, ethics, and fundamental metaphysical composition.[1][2]

The concept of alignment covers a broad range of entities, with the exceptions of new souls and the purified quintessence of the Maelstrom known as potentiality.[2] Mortals are the most obvious, as their actions often (though not always) fit a specific alignment. Deities also often embody an alignment or small range of alignment, and expect their followers to do the same.[citation needed]

However, alignment extends past sentient life to classify creatures, from animals to outsiders, based on their tendencies and behaviors. Planes are strongly associated with an alignment, and are formed from aligned quintessence.[2] Even communities, organizations, nations,[3] locations,[4][5] and certain inanimate objects can have an alignment.[6][7]

Axes of alignment

Alignment is commonly represented as a two-axis grid of nine segments, with morality as the horizontal axis (represented as good, neutrality, and evil) and ethics as the vertical axis (represented as law, neutrality, and chaos). These combinations can be abbreviated by the first letters of each intersecting pair of descriptors; for instance, lawful good can be abbreviated as LG:


At the center is the Neutral alignment, sometimes called true neutrality.[1]

Law

Lawful entities value honor, trustworthiness, obedience, and dependability, but can be close-minded, self-righteous, and inflexible.[6]

Chaos

Chaotic entities value freedom and flexibility, but can be impulsive, resentful toward authority, and irresponsible.[6]

Neutral

Neutral entities feel little moral or ethical obligation toward any particular course of action, view dogmatic ethical or moral actions as dangerous in any circumstance, or have a strong tendency toward self-interest unclouded by prejudice or compulsion.[6][8]

Good

Good entities value and protect innocent life, even at great expense to themselves.[6]

Evil

Evil entities debase or destroy innocent life, sometimes for little or no reason.[6]

Unaligned

The absence of alignment is rare in the multiverse, but is a fundamental aspect of creation. Quintessence reclaimed by the Maelstrom is purified of its alignment to become potentiality, and sparks of unaligned potentiality join the Positive Energy Plane as an element in the creation of a soul.[2]

Changing alignment

Strict adherence to alignment often results in strange circumstances.

Alignments are rarely immutable. Actions that oppose an entity's alignment can change it, and some spells and magical effects can temporarily or permanently alter an entity's alignment.[9][10] Cursed items[11] and powerful artifacts[12] can also forcefully alter an entity's alignment.

Alignment on Golarion

Alignment manifests in subtle, but tangible, ways on Golarion. For instance, certain spells, such as detect chaos or protection from good, detect or only affect entities of a certain alignment axis.[13][14] Items might be attuned to an alignment axis or specific alignment; a weapon attuned to chaos might cause more harm to a lawful being, or an item attuned to good might weaken an evil entity that attempts to use it.[15]

Perhaps the most visible delineation of alignment on Golarion comes from its religions and their followers. Paladins must always be lawful good; evil, and even true neutral, deities do not inspire paladins, and paladins can physically smite creatures of evil alignment through their righteous fervor. Clerics must fall in line with their deity's alignment and cannot cast certain spells opposed to her deity's alignment;[16] furthermore, their alignment determines whether they can channel positive or negative energy.[17] Unusual circumstances and entities—such as low templars, people with exceptional skill in using magic items, or the effects of spells like undetectable alignment—can mask or modify an entity's alignment.[18][19][20]

But even among a religion's more mundane followers, alignment has material effects. For example, holy water blessed by a good deity can burn evil-aligned outsiders.[21]

Alignment in the Harrow

The Harrow deck features six suits of nine cards each, and each card within a suit corresponds with one of the nine alignments.[22]

Alignment in the Great Beyond

Each plane of the Great Beyond is associated with an alignment, and its inhabitants often exemplify certain aspects of the plane's alignment. For instance, the Abyss is strongly aligned with chaos and evil, while Heaven is strongly aligned with law and good. As such, demons of the Abyss are chaotic and destructive creatures, and angels of Heaven are lawful crusaders of compassion.[citation needed]

This also manifests as the sorts of creatures who become familiars of or are summoned by spellcasters.[23]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 11. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 F. Wesley Schneider. (2014). The River of Souls. Pyramid of the Sky Pharaoh, p. 69. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-593-8
  3. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 32. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  4. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 243. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3 . For instance, the antipathy spell can cause an object or location to repel creatures of a certain alignment.
  5. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 293. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3 . For instance, the hallow spell can be attuned to an alignment.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 166. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  7. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 240. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3 . For instance, the align weapon spell grants an alignment to an unaligned weapon.
  8. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 167. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  9. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 245. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3 . Specifically, the atonement spell.
  10. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 246. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3 . Specifically, the baleful polymorph spell.
  11. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 541. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3 . Specifically, the helm of opposite alignment.
  12. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 545. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3 . Specifically, the Balance card of the deck of many things.
  13. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 226. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  14. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 234. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  15. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 468-470. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3 The anarchic and holy weapon special qualities.
  16. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 39. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  17. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 40. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  18. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 281. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  19. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 109. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  20. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 363. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  21. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 160. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
  22. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 293. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  23. Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, p. 127. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3