This article is primarily or only relevant to Pathfinder First Edition.

Alignment

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Alignment is a foundational aspect of metaphysics that can manifest in many ways, including direct physical conflict between creatures born of quintessentially aligned energies.

Alignment is a concept of nine facets along two axes that broadly defines and classifies entities by their morality, ethics, and fundamental metaphysical composition.123

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,4 locations,56 and certain inanimate objects can have an alignment.78

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 neutral.9

Law
Lawful entities value honor, trustworthiness, obedience, and dependability, but can be close-minded, self-righteous, and inflexible.7[citation needed]
Chaos
Chaotic entities value freedom and flexibility, but can be impulsive, resentful toward authority, and irresponsible.7[citation needed]
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.710[citation needed]
Good
Good entities value and protect innocent life, even at great expense to themselves.7[citation needed]
Evil
Evil entities debase or destroy innocent life, sometimes for little or no reason.7[citation needed]

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 Creation's Forge as an element in the creation of a soul.2

Changing alignment

Strictly adhering to an alignment can result in unusual 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.1112 Cursed items13 and powerful artifacts14 can also forcefully alter an entity's 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.1516[citation needed] 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.17

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;18[citation needed] furthermore, their alignment determines whether they can channel positive or negative energy.19[citation needed]

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.202122

But even among a religion's more mundane followers, alignment has material effects. For example, holy water blessed by a good deity can harm evil-aligned outsiders.23

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.2425

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 Outer Rifts is strongly aligned with chaos and evil, while Heaven is strongly aligned with law and good. As such, demons of the Outer Rifts 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.26[citation needed]

References

  1. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 1: Getting Started” in Core Rulebook, 11. Paizo Inc., 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 F. Wesley Schneider. “The River of Souls” in Pyramid of the Sky Pharaoh, 69. Paizo Inc.,
  3. The Pathfinder Second Edition Remaster Project removed alignment as a mechanic in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, with many uses replaced by edicts, anathema, and the concepts of holiness, unholiness, and sanctification. It otherwise remains a part of the Pathfinder campaign setting. See also Pathfinder Core Preview and the Paizo Blog.
  4. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 32. Paizo Inc., 2011
  5. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Spells” in Core Rulebook, 243. Paizo Inc., 2009 For instance, the antipathy spell can cause an object or location to repel creatures of a certain alignment.
  6. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Spells” in Core Rulebook, 293. Paizo Inc., 2009 For instance, the hallow spell can be attuned to an alignment.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 7: Additional Rules” in Core Rulebook, 166. Paizo Inc., 2009
  8. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Spells” in Core Rulebook, 240. Paizo Inc., 2009 For instance, the align weapon spell grants an alignment to an unaligned weapon.
  9. Logan Bonner, et al. “1: Introduction” in Core Rulebook, 28. Paizo Inc.,
  10. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 7: Additional Rules” in Core Rulebook, 167. Paizo Inc., 2009
  11. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Spells” in Core Rulebook, 245. Paizo Inc., 2009 Specifically, the atonement spell.
  12. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Spells” in Core Rulebook, 246. Paizo Inc., 2009 Specifically, the baleful polymorph spell.
  13. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Magic Items” in Core Rulebook, 541. Paizo Inc., 2009 Specifically, the helm of opposite alignment.
  14. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Magic Items” in Core Rulebook, 545. Paizo Inc., 2009 Specifically, the Balance card of the deck of many things.
  15. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Spells” in Core Rulebook, 226. Paizo Inc., 2009
  16. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Spells” in Core Rulebook, 234. Paizo Inc., 2009
  17. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Magic Items” in Core Rulebook, 468–470. Paizo Inc., 2009 The anarchic and holy weapon special qualities.
  18. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 3: Classes” in Core Rulebook, 39. Paizo Inc., 2009
  19. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 3: Classes” in Core Rulebook, 40. Paizo Inc., 2009
  20. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 281. Paizo Inc., 2011
  21. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Skills” in Core Rulebook, 109. Paizo Inc., 2009
  22. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Spells” in Core Rulebook, 363. Paizo Inc., 2009
  23. Logan Bonner, et al. “11: Crafting & Treasure” in Core Rulebook, 571. Paizo Inc.,
  24. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 293. Paizo Inc., 2011
  25. Per James Jacobs, the removal of alignment mechanics has no effect on Harrowing.
  26. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 5: Feats” in Core Rulebook, 127. Paizo Inc., 2009