Detect Alignment Variant Rules (3.5e Variant Rule)

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See the Netbook of Alignment for more alignment - related rules.

Detect Alignment Variant Rules[edit]

The D&D Wiki SRD spells are among the best descriptions of the spell affects of alignment detection I have seen, but they might work differently in homebrew universes. Here are some ideas:

Increasing Sensitivity[edit]

A starting first level paladin is only starting to be sensitive to evil, so the least evil things and differences between different evil things are either not detected or require an additional concentration or spot check. As a caster gains experience, they get much better at detecting such things. An extremely high - level paladin might conceivably be able to guess the exact alignment and challenge rating / equivalent level of a target or even that a tribal chieftain has the heart of a Noble Demon behind his Evil Overlord facade.

Standing Out Against the Foliage[edit]

Things that are different or unusual are easier to detect than things that are commonplace. If a city is filled with evil people, or the universe itself is tainted with evil (such as the Ravenloft setting), detect good will be an easier to use and more effective spell than detect evil. In a world full of people of mixed loyalties and weak alignments, anything exclusively good, evil, lawful, or chaotic will stick out. A spellbook with 10% evil - based spells, an orc child, a neutral good fighter with a checkered past, or the neutral evil merchant who would leave a customer destitute but die to save his family might not show up or require a spot check because their 'commitment' to any particular alignment isn't quite strong enough to be clearly visible.

Evil is as Evil Does[edit]

Deeds speak louder than words, so beings who have done truly despicable things without seeking some form of atonement, and those in the process of doing an evil deed show up as evil, but an innocent person would not, even if of evil alignment. Inanimate objects show up if alignment - based spells were used in their enchantment.

Sin Stinks[edit]

Detect evil can and at least sometimes will detect everyone and everything that has been corrupted by evil, even a little. In other words, almost anyone who isn't exceptionally good or innocent such as:

  • The shopkeeper who cheated on his taxes.
  • The village idiot who stole food from the shopkeeper.
  • The party member who once killed an "innocent" goblin in cold blood.

Evil Residue[edit]

Evil, good, lawful, and chaotic deeds and their impact on other people leave behind a 'spiritual residue' much like DNA at a crime scene. Thus a detect evil spell would reveal not only an evil - enchanted object, evil people, and places where evil spells were performed, but might also detect a torture chamber, a victim of abuse, or objects exposed to great evil. The caster might gain a sense of sorrow, loss, contamination, etc. rather than villainy when the target is something other than a being, spell, or object that is 'currently' evil.

Aiar Alignment Sense[edit]

The Aiar are this author's homebrew celestial race. They have an innate sense that acts like an omnidirectional Detect Evil spell that is on their whole lives. However, it is not as precise as a Detect Evil spell: they only have a premonition of safety or danger in a given direction. The sense is a combination of Standing Out Against the Foliage and Sin Stinks, but it is normally very faint; creatures that are only minor evil show up at a range of 20 feet; but epic - level creatures of pure evil show up a mile or so away. This gives the Aiar a survival advantage that's a bit like animals that flee moments before an earthquake, but they cannot determine which beings in a crowd are evil. If there is only one person 5 feet away, however, and no one else within a 20 foot radius, there IS a good chance they can guess the alignment of that person.

Adventure Ideas[edit]

The DM's Revenge[edit]

This adventure is designed to be used when a DM gets stuck with a bunch of players who like to overuse alignment detecting magic.

Suddenly everyone any alignment detecting spell is cast upon starts detecting positive. If the players are wise, they'll realize that something is messing with the local magic and seek to solve the mystery; otherwise it is likely the characters will kill or otherwise persecute a (mostly) innocent person. If appropriate, have local authorities notice the crime and investigate (or form a vengeance committee). Meanwhile, any paladins, clerics, etc. of good - aligned deities loose all their powers because of the party's evil deed!

Allow the characters to encounter a high - level priest, oracle, wandering sage, gold dragon, etc. who explains that they must atone for their deeds and their powers will be fully restored. The attonement might include a financial penalty such as making a particularly appropriate major charatable donation, or a psychologically difficult journey such as visiting a town where the local authorities are biased against the characters or helping a former enemy in need. The moment the assignment is complete, the player character's abilities all return to normal.

Along the way, there will be additional side plots; the whole adventure should be geared toward the purpose of teaching the characters they cannot always trust divination abilities. As a reward for completing the adventure, the characters should have an opportunity to advance a level or else gain a slightly better ability to use the spell that caused the trouble in the first place.

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