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Leliel
2009-12-09, 09:40 PM
Well, I've been planning on a PCs with lycanthropy game for a long time now (not "beasts in a human skin" kind of lycans, but "oppressed minority, albeit with the power to turn into sapient predators" kind).

Finding that it would be an interesting theme to compare the PC's own predicament of standing on the border between civilization and nature to that of morality, I decided to have a (mostly) morally grey game, with the main villain being the leader of a group of resistance fighters against the tyranny of discrimination.

The problem this may turn out to be is that, well, Erebin (his name) isn't that bad a person. He has iron-tight moral standards, a powerful social conscience, and a paternal love for his lackeys. The only fully unjustifiable thing he does is his utter ineptitude when it comes to being a parent (he isn't abusive, but he is...neglectful). Plus, you know...viva la resistance. Star Wars pretty much ensured that when a group called some variation of "Rebellion" shows up, we automatically assume they're the good guys.

So, knowing that I plan to put the PCs through hell mainly because of their virally-transferred ability, and Erebin promises an end to all that, I began to consider what would happen if they, for perfectly IC and logical reasons, go "Screw the establishment!" and sign up as Erebin's henchmen.

Now, I don't want to railroad them into not joining-Erebin doesn't hold many grudges, and it's an interesting story hook-but I want to show that they may not have made the best of decisions while still showing Erebin to be a nice person.

So, how would you handle good-aligned PCs who defect to the BBEG's side while remaining good?

Mark Hall
2009-12-09, 09:43 PM
Rorschach's Journal gets published in the paper and destroys their carefully built utopia. ;-]

However, let them. You just then switch who the opposition is, and what you're aiming for.

Yukitsu
2009-12-09, 09:47 PM
Well, I'd probably start preparing campaign sessions focused around them being rebels instead of members of the larger part of society. Pretty much as simple as that. In a morally grey world, the players should be able to be good or evil on either side of the conflict, so staying good and swapping over is perfectly rational.

Sir_Elderberry
2009-12-09, 09:54 PM
Give him a few Kick the Dog moments? "Resistance leader" sounds alright, until they start bombing schools.

Sharkman1231
2009-12-09, 09:59 PM
This sounds like a resistance group that is fighting the establishment. I would say this is Law v. Chaos instead Evil v. Good.

(Most people would type Good then Evil, but I am an agent of Chaos. Death to the Man!!!!!!)
:smallwink:

Aron Times
2009-12-09, 10:00 PM
You should watch Code Geass. Lelouch, the main character, is a Heroic Sociopath who freely sacrifices his minions for the greater good. It also helps that the Empire is a lot more evil than him.

Foryn Gilnith
2009-12-09, 10:06 PM
Chaotic Evil vs. Lawful marginally-less-Evil, it sounds like.

AshDesert
2009-12-09, 10:27 PM
Give him a few Kick the Dog moments? "Resistance leader" sounds alright, until they start bombing schools.

The problem is that it's pretty darn hard to save face while still Kicking the Dog, since, well, Kicking the Dog is supposed to make the Villain look villainous and horrible.

I say that you should plan the campaign knowing that the PC's may be on either side, and may even change sides (i.e., this guy says he cares about us, but then he leaves us to die). Also, although Lycanthropy campaign can be very fun, that LA hurts (unless you're giving it to everyone for free).

Skeletor
2009-12-09, 10:29 PM
Don't have the bad guy be evil just have the good guys be to good. You said the bad guys henchmen has a loose lesh, just let him be the sort of figure head. His henchmen though eat babies, and the leader won't tolerate infighting so making issues with his henchmen over what they do = hurting the cause. Something this fellow doesn't sound like he tolerates and now from people who would be or are his own men.

Nothing like being out casts from rebels :p

Sir_Elderberry
2009-12-09, 10:33 PM
The problem is that it's pretty darn hard to save face while still Kicking the Dog, since, well, Kicking the Dog is supposed to make the Villain look villainous and horrible.

Well, the DM in this case sounds like he doesn't want the PCs to switch sides. I'd have more fun playing in a game like what other people are saying--where the PCs do join the BB"E"G and have to question themselves the whole way.

Incidentally, this whole set-up reminds me of X-men.

Leliel
2009-12-09, 10:44 PM
Well, the DM in this case sounds like he doesn't want the PCs to switch sides. I'd have more fun playing in a game like what other people are saying--where the PCs do join the BB"E"G and have to question themselves the whole way.

No I'm OK if they decide to permanently join him, but I am a pacifist at heart, and a lot of the reason why I consider Erebin to be a villain is that he's a lot like a lycanthropic Malcolm X. Or Magneto, if you want to take the X-Men analogy further.

I really want the players to be a bit more like lycanthropic MLKs-peaceful, mostly (it's a DnD game, there's got to be violence in there somewhere).

But, if they want to join him...Well, there's a villain who opposes Erebin, and he is very definitely evil.

Sir_Elderberry
2009-12-09, 10:50 PM
Well then, don't make him just a lycanthrope activist, but a lycanthrope supremacist. Go past equal rights--he wants to dismantle the current social order, yes, but the one he's going to put into place would have the lycanthropes at the top. Or he's too concerned with revenge and doesn't value nonlycanthrope life. His main activities in all these cases would be the same, but his methods or goals would vary enough to make him distasteful.

Ormur
2009-12-09, 10:52 PM
Let them get carried away with their rebellion, forgetting their ideals in the heat of battle, escalating the conflict when the morally gray establishment shows little mercy in suppressing the rebellion. Both sides may have neutral-to-good reasons for fighting back but often resort to doing evil things, torture, retaliating against civilians, indiscriminate violence, all for the cause (or to restore order).

If you don't go for outright kick the puppy acts on both sides (evil for evil's sake) they might stay with either side trying to minimize the violence (if they really turn out to be good and don't get a carried away which is "fine") or even getting disgusted with both sides, working for peace as a third party.

BarbarianNina
2009-12-10, 12:25 AM
Erebin can be a nice person, and have a good point, and not have kick the dog moments-- and still be wrong. Probably.

If you think Erebin is wrong, show why he's wrong-- but not by dropping gratuitous 'this is where the path of hatred takes us!' anvils. Maybe his actions alienate an NPC (extra points if the players like him) who was previously sympathetic to the lycanthropes' cause. If the police or the military are 'legitimate targets' for Erebin, play them realistically-- including some who, while they hate lycanthropes, will heroically attempt to rescue their friends from battle, or jump into harm's way to protect civilians. Maybe even have one who sympathizes with the lycanthropes, but still has to follow orders. Give their enemies interesting personalities.

But... let the heroes be heroic, even if you disagree with Erebin and they decide to join him.

Like Yukitsu said
In a morally grey world, the players should be able to be good or evil on either side of the conflict. Sometimes that heroism means fighting to free an imprisoned lycanthrope, and sometimes it means protecting civilians, prisoners, or whoever else deserves protection from the excesses of the less-principled of their fellow rebels. And as heroes, your characters should be able to pull off some nice greater-good schemes (if that's what they're interested in) regardless of who they're working for.

Finally, if you want to encourage pacifism, REWARD IT. If they talk first, let them find useful allies instead of just losing initiative every freakin' time. If they start to develop respect or liking for an enemy, give them an opportunity to negotiate with him, and have him act in good faith during negotiations. The basic tenet of most forms of pacifism is that people who are treated well will (eventually) return the favor, while violence begets violence. If this isn't true in your world, don't expect your PCs to favor pacifism.

erikun
2009-12-10, 12:33 AM
Well, if there are not evil people and it's all shades of grey, then you don't really have a BBEG, now do you?

As for the party, if they want to join Erebin, let them. Is there any reason why joining him is a bad idea? Does he go around sacrificing orphaniges to demons to help with the lycanthropy problem? Is he a "kill them all and let the gods sort them out" style general? If so, go ahead and show that side of him.

Otherwise, if he's a nice guy who's trying to make the world better and trying to avoid needless bloodshed, I think you'll have a hard time explaining why the party shouldn't join up. Especially if they're getting kicked around in their current predictiment.

FoE
2009-12-10, 12:38 AM
Star Wars pretty much ensured that when a group called some variation of "Rebellion" shows up, we automatically assume they're the good guys.

I don't. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized)


Well, if there are not evil people and it's all shades of grey, then you don't really have a BBEG, now do you?

Agreed, though I'll note you could have a Well-Intentioned Extremist who, by his actions, is making the world worse. But this guy doesn't even sound like he fits that definition.

Perhaps the question you should ask yourself is, why WOULDN'T your PCs want to join your Werewolf Messiah?

Agrippa
2009-12-10, 12:50 AM
So you're trying to make Erebin a villain just because you're a pacifist? So he's the bad guy strictly because of the fact that want to shove your views dwn the players' throats. Then don't expect them not to team up with youe Designated Anti Villain. For all we know Erebin tried non-violent methods, but innocent people kept dying anyway and his pleas fell on deaf ears.

D&D is a violent game, even if no one's fighting to the death. Besides, nonviolence isn't particularly effective against genicide or mass murder if it's being perpatrated against you. The lycan rebels are just fighting for survival. If they can beat back their enemy's forces long enough, discredit and kill the mad evil priest and demonstrate to the rest of the world that they have just as much right to live as anyone else, then you can have peace.

bosssmiley
2009-12-10, 07:27 AM
So, how would you handle good-aligned PCs who defect to the BBEG's side while remaining good?

Who says they remain good? Fighting alongside (or becoming) Well-Intentioned Extremists (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WellIntentionedExtremist) has great potential for moral dilemmas and slippery slopes paved with good intentions. The players have basically given you tacit permission to throw them into a series of hideous moral/ethical binds. Enjoy. :smallbiggrin:

kamikasei
2009-12-10, 07:40 AM
For someone trying to construct a "morally grey" campaign, you seem a bit too wedded to the notion that the PCs should be definitely good and the villain definitely evil.

My advice would be to discard alignment or at least ways to test it in character for the game. The PCs are moral agents. They decide whether the bad deeds of a given faction outweigh the good, and who they'll throw in their lot with. You play out the consequences of that decision. Don't label any of it or preach to them. Don't try to teach them lessons. Just play the game and see how it works out.

Leliel
2009-12-10, 08:17 AM
Well...Everyone has good points about the whole "Designated Anti Villain" thing.

And yes, I am trying to inject a bit of my own values, while trying to remain morally complex.

The fact of the matter is that I am, in many ways, a novelist, and I often have a hard time remembering that the PCs are not readers, they're characters with opinions of their own. And yes, I know it's a problem.

The thing I'm actually aiming for is throwing a bunch of hard questions out there and leaving the PCs to answer it. But as many authors, I want the PCs to answer it the way I would, and that's unfair to them.

But that's what these threads are for, isn't it?

kamikasei
2009-12-10, 08:30 AM
But that's what these threads are for, isn't it?

How so? That might have been what the first of these threads was for, if you hadn't already identified this unfortunate tendency within yourself. Once you're aware of it, it's just a matter of reining it in and letting the players do the answering, as you've said. If the point is to ask the question and the players answer it, what does the thread accomplish?

Britter
2009-12-10, 09:46 AM
My advice in this situation, as it would be in almost any gaming situation, is to not be wedded to your story. Know what you want to show the players, have your NPC's show the players those things, and then let the player's choose what to do.

It helps if you have a clear picture of both sides plan, assuming that the PC's never got involved. If you know what steps your villian would take to continue his revolution and you know what steps his opposition will take to crush him, you can use those steps to show the players how each side thinks, which gives them a chance to change sides mid-way through when they discover that they don't necessarily agree with the people they have joined up with. Or they confirm what they had thought and continue on as members of the rebellion. Or whatever. They will most likely do something entirely unexpected :)

It took me a loooong time to stop forcing players to adopt my moral view of the game world (which it should be noted doesn't necessarily corespond to my own morality) and instead do as their characters would, given a set of circumstances. Let the players drive the train, and use your knowledge of the game world to predict what the future implications for them and the world will be.

Yes, this most likely means you will have to adapt, change, or even discard sections of your planned adventure, but if you do a little contingency planning up front that is less of an issue.

Jayabalard
2009-12-10, 09:59 AM
So, how would you handle good-aligned PCs who defect to the BBEG's side while remaining good?If you really want to keep them from defecting, make it so that it's not possible to fully join the BBEG's side and remain good, meaning that his organization requires them to do things that are not goodtm on a regular basis.

So, to keep with your analogy: they're much more likely to going to stick with the empire if the rebellion is ones that are destroying innocent planets; if both sides are doing despicable thing, theymight just try to form up "rebellion II, the right way to rebel" instead of working for either side.

If that doesn't appeal to you, then you really should just leave the choice in their hands, and let them defect and just change the story around to let them do what they want to do. Personally, I think this is the way to go if you mant to be running a morally gray campaign.

Tiki Snakes
2009-12-10, 10:07 AM
Well...Everyone has good points about the whole "Designated Anti Villain" thing.

And yes, I am trying to inject a bit of my own values, while trying to remain morally complex.

The fact of the matter is that I am, in many ways, a novelist, and I often have a hard time remembering that the PCs are not readers, they're characters with opinions of their own. And yes, I know it's a problem.

The thing I'm actually aiming for is throwing a bunch of hard questions out there and leaving the PCs to answer it. But as many authors, I want the PCs to answer it the way I would, and that's unfair to them.

But that's what these threads are for, isn't it?

Actually, I think you're heading in the right direction on your own.
You intend them to face the Wolfy, buuuut, you recognise that they might very well choose to side with him instead.

Given that you are aiming for morally complex, I'd say don't worry about it. Let the PC's choose who the bad guy is and who isn't, basically. Let them decide where to throw their aid, and what direction to send events in.

Don't worry about troping it up, or making sure that the designated villain isn't recognised as 'not villain-like-enough', just play the NPC's true to themselves and let the PC's react naturally.

Besides...Magneto is awesome. :smallwink:

Leliel
2009-12-10, 02:58 PM
How so? That might have been what the first of these threads was for, if you hadn't already identified this unfortunate tendency within yourself. Once you're aware of it, it's just a matter of reining it in and letting the players do the answering, as you've said. If the point is to ask the question and the players answer it, what does the thread accomplish?

Because you can't go wrong with more advice.

I'm not a very experienced writer.

EDIT: And yes, Tiki, Magneto is awesome.

Rasman
2009-12-10, 03:28 PM
My Opinion, you pull a "Linebarrels of Iron"

Take this decision to become "hero's of justice" and have it pit them against "the establishment." after a few sessions, at least four, reveal the uberplottwistofdoom. Both sides are actually on the same side, they just have differeing views/opinions on how to uphold the greater good and find those "champions of justice" that refuse to lose to the true BBEG.

Sir_Ophiuchus
2009-12-10, 05:08 PM
In general, where your goal is to have a fun and enjoyable game, you can't go wrong by rolling with what your players want to do.

Practice your improvisational skills a bit, have some alternate approaches planned out just in case, and let the players drive the story at least as much as you do. It's rewarding for everyone.

Example:

I remember having an army of orcs about to attack a local town and sent the PCs on a scouting mission. What I expected was that they'd either scout (running into a few watch parties) and return with info, or sneak into the mines the orcs were using as temporary command quarters and run into the big boss (who I had decided was both a chieftain and a cleric of Gruumsh, which is highly unusual).

What they did was murder the scouting party, send the druid in wolf form in to chat with the worgs (as it was established in his backstory he spoke Wolf) and find out what's going on, disguised the warforged paladin as an orc (!) by replacing his head (!!) with that of an orc they killed - an actual priest of Gruumsh - whose tongue they removed to hide the fact that they couldn't speak Orcish (!!!). They then promptly walked into the orc camp with the two elves in the party as "prisoners".

The druid translates in wolf form via the worgs:

"Who the "%$ is this?" "Em, yeah, turns out my master wasn't dead after all." (Instant roleplaying XP - best improvisation ever!)

Then the real chieftain/priest comes out (bearing in mind they didn't know about him) and, completely coincidentally, due to the paladin's disguise, they both look exactly the same... I mean, how often do you see two eight-foot-tall orc chieftains who are also priests of Gruumsh?

Time for a duel ... which the paladin won due to a little surreptitious cheating from the wizard.

...

"All the orcs quake in fear and fall to their faces. They appear to consider you in charge, given that you've just defeated their godtouched leader."

***

Now, wasn't that more fun than what I had in mind?

Ormur
2009-12-10, 10:12 PM
Yes my problem as a DM has sometimes being overestimating the will of my PC's to wantonly kill everything they see (thought you couldn't go wrong with that). I drew out a little dungeon for them as a side quest (which they suggested) filled with kobolds and nasty traps. The kobolds had been hired to dig a tunnel from the goblin valley to the human county and the goblins were pouring through, terrorizing the population. They then defeat every obstacle with relative ease (I didn't know about tucker kobolds then) and end up taking the small band of kobolds hostage when I somehow thought they'd all just die fighting (but of course the logical thing for puny kobolds who's traps have been breached by adventurers is to surrender).

Then they found themselves in a moral dilemma since they had to collapse the tunnel somehow but closing it on the human side would require the kobolds' help and that would cause the goblins to kill them. Closing it on the goblin side was easier but would cut of supplies to the kobolds, killing them. They had to broker a deal with the count to supply them in return for the kobolds not opening the tunnel again.