View Full Version : Minor Moral Dilema for my PCs

2008-06-03, 10:04 AM
Hidy-ho monsters in the playground!

I'm a long-time lurker and first time poster that would love to get your input on a morally ambiguous scenario my players will face in our next session and I hope you can give some insight. I'm a new DM running The Sunless Citadel for some folks that have never played the game before.

The players have just eliminated the final goblin warriors of the Durbuluk tribe. During the melee, the noncombatants fled to the throne room where the currently await the return of their men. When the PCs break the door down, most will flee in a panic while a few old goblins may feebly attempt to hold the PCs back.

In a good and neutral party along with Meepo the kobold (hated enemy of goblinkind) do you feel there is an ethical way for the PCs to handle the noncombatants before descending into the grove?

Thanks in advance for any of your ideas for resolving the encounter!

2008-06-03, 10:12 AM
I'm not familiar with the adventure; what level are the PCs, what abilities do they have, and will they have any chance to prepare for the encounter? The obvious solution is "nonlethal damage and enchantments", e.g. Sleep, coupled with a deal of rope.

edit: Oh, wait, I think I misread that. They're not trying to get past the noncombatants to achieve something, the noncombatants are just there, and the PCs have to go elsewhere?

Well, they could just leave them there. Or barricade the door from the outside, promising to let them out when they came back.

What's the wider context? If the goblins leave, have they anywhere to go where they won't be slaughtered on sight or themselves get up to evil?

2008-06-03, 10:41 AM
Demanding unconditional surrender seems like the way to go here. First, let the complete noncombatants go. Praise the remaining defenders for their steadfastness. Offer them the chance to leave, if they swear by their gods to never bother anybody again. If they refuse to surrender and keep attacking, kill them. If they surrender, confiscate and/or sunder their weapons and send them on their way.

2008-06-03, 11:27 AM
It depends totally on what goblins are in your world.

In my current campaign world they are vicious murderers, that never change, so there is no moral dilemma - the players should butcher them to the last kid :smalleek:

If, on the other hand, they are "just like humans", that is, they may rob and pillage, but not more than humans, the women and children are a no go.

If there are several different types of goblins, some "blanks type" and others "like human type", and you can't tell them apart - stop playing paladin with that DM :smallbiggrin:

2008-06-03, 01:17 PM
Sunless Citadel? As I recall, that's a 1st-3rd level adventure, so more complex magical options are straight out.

In any case, these are goblin noncombatants. I don't think they'll be any major threat to anyone. I think it would be evil to kill them, but I don't think the players have any particular obligation to help them. It would be good if they did so, though. For the ones that fight back, I would strongly encourage mercy. Given their general lack of combat skills, it should be fairly easy to subdue them without killing.

2008-06-03, 02:23 PM
I think it would be evil to kill them, but I don't think the players have any particular obligation to help them.
Funny, in my campaign not killing them could be construed as evil :smalltongue:

(Mayor of Nearbytown: "you helped the plague spread...?")

2008-06-03, 02:33 PM
Funny, in my campaign not killing them could be construed as evil :smalltongue:

The Sunless Citadel is, as far as I know, placed either in Generic 3ed D&D Setting or in Greyhawk, which is preety much the same. So the question "how do they look in my games/setting" isn't in any way relevant here, as core goblins are only "generally" evil, just as elves are "generally" good.
Anyway, the best way to do this would be probably to order the goblins to surrender -they'll probably agree, it's not like they have any choice- and then leave them alone. Then again, if the combatants are dead, the women, children and elders are quite screwed and will probably starve.
Also, it'd help us give the aswer if you gave us the reason PCs are fighting the goblins(from what I've heard, in this module you kill goblins mostly because they're there, but let's not make uneducated guesses).

2008-06-03, 03:37 PM
Wow, thanks for all the thought-out responses. Even without a lot of important information you made some really great suggestions.

Goblins in the world:

This is the starting adventure for the group. Thus, the PCs did not have any contact with goblins prior to entering the site. However, they learned in town that the goblins used to terrorize the Old Road before it fell into disuse. More recently, the goblins have actually been known to trade with the surface folk, but their trade is somewhat illicit and mysterious. Once the PCs entered the dungeon, they discovered that a missing adventuring party of NPCs they hope to rescue ran into the goblins; their fate is still unknown.

In addition, the PCs have made a truce with a feeble tribe of kobolds. In exchange for passage and a safe(r) resting area, the PCs have agreed to accompany the master dragon-handler Meepo (a kobold) to recover their stolen draconic patron from the goblins!

There are upwards of 30 noncombantant goblins and hobgoblins

The PCs:
The 5 PCs are 2nd level. They are definitely the agressors into goblin territory. The goblins led a last stand while the noncombatants barricaded themselves.

Thanks again for the help!

2008-06-03, 04:15 PM
Since the players haven't got any prior personal experiance or reliable (church sactioned) account of how goblins behave should look at them as sentient beings that disagree with the party. To treat them otherwise is morally questionable at best, think about how you would like your family to be treated in the event of your messy death at the hands of your families hypothetical enemies, ie the geneva convention, then see what they do.

2008-06-03, 04:57 PM
You haven't got proof that they are all evil and must therefore assume that they are neutral. Make them surrender and tell them to leave until you are done.

@ M0rt
Setting specifics are always important! I run FR right now, but that doesn't mean that everything is just the same as all other FR campaigns. I see your point, but happens to disagree.