BAM! Evil party out of freaking nowhere! Of course, if you’ve followed along on the latest Patreon poll, you might have guessed. When the question is whether the comic needs an Assassin or an Antipaladin, you know that evil is afoot!

We’ll have plenty of time to talk about evil parties in the coming months, but today I’d like to dip one last time into the dark, salty waters of alignment debates. In particular, I’m curious about something that came up during discussion of Mean Girls, Part 2/3. The question is whether “good” and “evil” are actual, tangible things in your world.

If you look at lore, it’s tough to dispute that tangible evil exists in-game. There’s been a Temple of Elemental Evil since 1985. Spells like protection from evil and good and dispel evil have a direct, measurable impact on the game. If you’re playing AD&D, then you’ve got to come to grips with the bizarre notion of alignment languages. (Laugh all you want, but these last still linger in the form of the secret Druidic language and thieves’ cant.)

The Handbook of Heroes may trade on mashing up in-game and out-of-game dialogue, but whether or not today’s exchange between Witch and Necromancer qualifies as one or the other has a lot to do with your opinion of “elemental evil.” Speaking for myself, I’ve always liked to imagine “alignment readings” to be like astrology in-game: “Sure lady. I’m aligned with the gods of chaos. And also the mysterious spheres of neutrality. Best two copper I ever spent. Thanks for wasting my time.”

We’re getting into head-canon territory here, but it amuses me no end to imagine paladins and clerics and other alignment-detecting folks taking “elemental evil” very seriously, while the common rogue rolls his eyes and does his best Han Solo impression: Hokey religions are no match for a good dagger at your side, kid! In my D&D games alignments may be real, but not everyone can perceive them, or even believes in them.

What about the rest of you guys? How do you treat the notion of “elemental evil” in your games? Do your PCs know what their alignments are? Let’s hear it in the comments!