A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #121
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    A more useful analogy (not necessarily better, since fantasy doesn't follow modern science), is language.

    The overall ability to speak is genetic, to the point we can pinpoint individual genes playing an important part (FOXP2 being the most famous). But no specific language is. What languages you learn is decided by what languages you are exposed to growing up. Sufficient lack of exposure can even lead to no language being learned at all.

    The older you get, the harder it is to learn new languages. There appear to be specific windows for rapid learning of languages during early childhood, with the process being different for adult humans.

    This creates a situation where the language you speak clearly isn't inherent, but you can't freely choose it either. The first language you learn isn't quite predestination, but you will pick it up by circumstance of birth and childhood and it has potential to influence rest of your life as strongly as any inherent trait. Unlearning a language is, if not quite impossible, at least hard enough that for it to happen in an adult requires severe brain trauma. Consciously choosing to never use your first language after adopting another is not unheard of, but also very difficult.

    Now imagine your first language is something like Black Speech of Mordor - invented by an evil being, for the sake of controlling others. Or some other fantastic concept of language, where just the uttering of certain words invokes some higher power.

    How are you going to escape that?

    How could anyone escape that?

    It's not simply a question of free will. Saying you're free to change your language is like saying you have freedom to cut out your tongue. It's true, but not in a convenient and appealing way that'd make someone say "you're right, why didn't I ever think of that?" and turn their life around on a dime.

  2. - Top - End - #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    How can the author mean something that they don't mean? If it was done purely to copy Tolkien and for no other reason than reading it as a racial allegory or anything else of that nature is ipso facto incorrect.

    It's not fair to criticize an author for some random readers' headcanons.
    It is absolutely fair to criticize someone for something they didn't intend, if that thing is still harmful. You don't have to intend to cause harm in order to be harmful. That is exactly what the recent decisions by WotC and Paizo, to de-emphasize absolute or even predominant racial morality (among the intelligent humanoids anyway), are meant to address.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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  3. - Top - End - #123
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    Deja Vu. I already replied to this comment here:
    Well congratulations, you have demonstrated there are no inherent alignments in D&D, but only by using a very strict definition of "inherent" which is probably not the same as that intended by the OP.

    Also, you have made me rather self-conscious about which hand I am using for any particular action.

  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    Well congratulations, you have demonstrated there are no inherent alignments in D&D, but only by using a very strict definition of "inherent" which is probably not the same as that intended by the OP.

    Also, you have made me rather self-conscious about which hand I am using for any particular action.
    I am sorry you feel that way. I believe I am using "inherent" in the common usage and I believe it is comparable to the usage the OP is using. You could ask the OP for a clarification. Although I doubt they share your "inherent only means the initial starting condition" usage.

  5. - Top - End - #125
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    @Psyren: for your argument to hold, the harm would have to be proven, not just purported. But in vast majority of cases, what ends up proven is merely genealogy of ideas, not effect - the equivalent of complaining about giving kids rubber swords because rubber swords are based on real swords and real swords were used to kill people.

  6. - Top - End - #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    It is absolutely fair to criticize someone for something they didn't intend, if that thing is still harmful. You don't have to intend to cause harm in order to be harmful.
    You do, however, have to cause harm. Nobody is going to join a hate group because of orcs.

    EDIT:
    Also, I would like to reiterate my earlier point that the OP's argument is a strawman given that none of the humanoid races are marked "Always Evil". I couldn't even find any monstrous humanoid or giant examples of this.

    EDIT:
    Also, I submit that changing the setting to a more realistic and historical depiction of medieval (or earlier) times would be sufficient to push humans into "often evil" (or possibly even "usually evil") territory.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-23 at 11:52 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #127
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Also, I would like to reiterate my earlier point that the OP's argument is a strawman given that none of the humanoid races are marked "Always Evil". I couldn't even find any monstrous humanoid or giant examples of this.
    I do think the original argument had a sliver of value, regarding the 5eism that good races have complete moral freedom while evil races have evil imprinted onto them by their evil gods. That's trivially easy to fix by just saying that all gods imprint their chosen virtues on their chosen races; grace and wisdom for elves, cleverness and curiosity for gnomes, ferocity and power for orcs, rigid discipline for hobgoblins, etc. So there's a flaw, but it could be fixed by replacing one sidebar in one edition with some different text so it isn't too great in scope.

    You do, however, have to cause harm. Nobody is going to join a hate group because of orcs.
    I doubt that anybody has joined anti-trans groups or attacked any trans people based on Rich making a joke about a kerfluffle about the silhouette of female dragonborn. This comic did leave some people feeling hurt, and Rich made a point to steer well clear of any trans related topics in the future. Sometimes you don't need literal physical harm to respect that a topic might be sensitive.

    However, I want to come at the orc issue from a different perspective. Let's ignore the fact that tales treating orcs as humanoid vermin sound uncomfortably close to real world racists describing other real world races as humanoid vermin. Let's instead look at how kobolds were a kind of boring low level mook race back in the TSR days, with only maybe a reputation as trapsmiths differentiating them from every other low level mook race out there. 3e, in tying them to dragons, gave them interesting lore that's likely going to be part of their identity for a good, long time to come.

    Orcs have been the default mook race for a while now. Letting them explore different options can maybe help expand their lore into something more interesting while someone else takes up the default mook flag for an edition or so.

  8. - Top - End - #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    This comic did leave some people feeling hurt, and Rich made a point to steer well clear of any trans related topics in the future.
    People are really reaching if they're reading that as a trans-related comic.

    Either that or they're really ignorant and either don't know how reptiles work or have never seen a drawing of a lizardwoman with breasts.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-24 at 02:16 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Orcs have been the default mook race for a while now. Letting them explore different options can maybe help expand their lore into something more interesting while someone else takes up the default mook flag for an edition or so.
    Orcs have been reimagined a dozen times just for D&D, and hundreds of times for fantasy in general. The "default evil mook" interpretation has persisted because it has been the actual popular and memorable version.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Orcs have been the default mook race for a while now. Letting them explore different options can maybe help expand their lore into something more interesting while someone else takes up the default mook flag for an edition or so.
    Eberron has already succeeded at this task. What I like about Eberron is that there is no default mook, sometimes it's humans, sometimes bugbears, sometimes orcs, sometimes elves, the dragon's color coding does not always apply. They all get a turn to be the bad guys and the good guys.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

  11. - Top - End - #131
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharur View Post
    For my games (simplified), a "good act" {snip} Likewise, an "evil act" {snip}
    This gamist approach to moral topics is a part of the problem that D&D has had ever since E.G.G. wrote in a rule that any Paladin who committed even one 'evil act' loses paladinhood. (While oddly, in the DMG for the same edition, he wrote a passage about the possibility of atonement...and even though the original rule in Greyhawk was "chaotic act" the two map closely enough for the purpose of this discussion). Interesting, isn't it?
    The originator of this gamist concept, which was a way to force PCs via rule, PCs with neat extra powers, to not be, nor associate with, murderous PCs and NPCs, ended up back pedalling a bit in the DMG. (And yes, the problem of "two sets of rules, one in the PHB and extra/secret/only the DM knows rules in the DMG wasn't helping!)

    The entire "that's an evil act {originally that's a chaotic act}" construction is a clumsy, gamist feature and has been since its introduction. It was introduced as a clumsy means of balancing out the significant power increase that being a Paladin offered. (our own GiTP Grod the Giant has a neat saying about "don't balance things by making them annoying to have" and I think that's good game design advice going forward).

    Vahanavoi's point on the other issue - that the secondary world races (elfves, gnolls, orcs, dwarves) have an explicit, unique relationship with their creator deities, whereas humans **do not** - only reinforces the point that structurally, the D&D cosmology (that has grown in fits and bounds since the started dragging deities into the game (Gods, Demigods, Heroes, Supplement IV, Original D&D)) has become internally inconsistent each time it has strayed from the 'the world is humanocentric' baseline. (I will give props to Baker for his Eberron world building efforts, and to the Dark Sun authors for exploring beyond the edges of that model, I found Dragonlance to be a lesser attempt).

    Spoiler: 13th Age
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    Aside: 13th Age, on the other hand, has a pretty neat relationship map of the "powers" to the "PCs" but I've not had a chance to play a full campaign of that so I won't comment further.


    Using the terms "good" and "evil" in this gamist style creates some confusion since the 'normal language' that people use outside of the game applies those value judgments in a different way; if it becomes a key word, or a piece of an if/then statement of game code, each of those terms loses some of its natural meaning.
    Being good isn't necessarily an advantage to survival.
    That's not quite true - to a great extent, in real life it is an advantage. Just societies that are mutually helpful (good, taking care of others) tend to thrive. In fiction, they generally do so until something/someone Evil interferes with that society's relatively stable operation. That conflict right there is the basis for a great many plots in the genre that informs the D&D aspect of the RPG hobby. (Paranoia, for example, is built on a much different, dystopian genre model).
    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Also, I would like to reiterate my earlier point that the OP's argument is a strawman given that none of the humanoid races are marked "Always Evil".
    Nor are any marked as 'kill on sight' although I have noticed that the Sea Elves and Sahuagin seem to be, lore wise, in a constant state of warfare under the sea. They may have, internal to their cultures and norms, something like that as a life assumption, but I am not sure I can point to lore on that.
    I couldn't even find any monstrous humanoid or giant examples of this.
    Which makes some of these discussion about how the game is played, and what players bring to their games, rather than the limited thing known as rules text.

    The distinction made (and in 5e they spell this out pretty clearly, but the AD&D 1e MM did something similar) is that humans can be of each and every alignment. They are all over the map. This makes sense if you take the E.G.G. argument that D&D has to be humano-centric since players are human, and that the humano-centric approach is the most logical approach to an illogical game. (Me paraphrasing his exposition on this in the AD&D 1e DMG).

    When the game isn't as humano-centric, and you have great nations and populations of other species that, because players are human, get anthropomorphized as a matter of course (so yeah, E.G.G. had a point) you get a muddying of the split between the primary world and the secondary world.

    As initially envisioned, the elf, the dwarf, the orc, the shape changer (Beorn for example, or the vampire), the ent, the dragon, the mind flayer, are secondary world creatures. (I am using the primary/secondary world terms as Tolkien uses them in his essay/speech on Faerie Stories). Good Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Dystopian, SF, etc) connects the reader with primary world elements that are familiar and adds some Secondary world features ... the balance point is very hard to get right.
    Also, I submit that changing the setting to a more realistic and historical depiction of medieval (or earlier) times would be sufficient to push humans into "often evil" (or possibly even "usually evil") territory.
    That's taking us off topic, but it's also where I prefer "law" versus "chaos" for the game. Beyond that, I think you are being a bit uncharitable, and anachronistic, in your characterization of medieval humans. I'll offer that in their "nasty, brutish, and short" existences most of them did the best they could and were loyal to their families and communities. (Hobbes' had a pretty negative attitude).
    Spoiler: hobbes in a nutshell
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    Nigel Warburton, in A Little History of Philosophy, introduces Hobbes’ main ideas:
    "He thought that at heart we all are, and that it is only the rule of law and the threat of punishment that keep us in check."
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-24 at 10:20 AM.
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    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

  12. - Top - End - #132
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    but I think you are being a bit uncharitable, and anachronistic, in your characterization of medieval humans. I'll offer that in their "nasty, brutish, and short" existences most of them did the best they could and were loyal to their families and communities.
    And were racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, xenophobic, religiously intolerant, often abusive to animals, and willingly complicit with slavery, child labor, and draconian laws even if they'd been on the short end of these last three themselves

    EDIT:
    And thank you for linking to Hobbes. Before I read that link I had completely forgotten to include draconian punishments as one of the vices of past eras.

    EDIT:
    I also like the line "In a world of scarce resources, particularly if you were struggling to find food and water to survive, it could actually be rational to kill other people before they killed you" because it brings up the point that scarce resources not only made things like slavery, serfdom, child labor, and working animals till they drop then sending them to the knacker as a grim reward for their loyalty intrinsic to that level of technological development but also, as the article mentions, made draconian punishments necessary. Those societies didn't have the means to imprison more than a handful of people securely, and they didn't have the means to produce food and goods through non-exploitative methods. Like the Drow, their society was sustained entirely through the power of evil, and without the power of evil (and in the absence of something to replace it, such as technology) their society would collapse.

    EDIT:
    Tangent on this. A time will come in the future when meat is no longer eaten, and it won't be because of animal rights activists, it will be because of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-24 at 10:53 AM.

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    Missed this earlier:

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    If that's a necessary process, what about all the games where players kill dozens of humans (or close enough copies)? Are they inherently less immersive because players have to keep reminding themselves that they aren't killing real people?
    Someone somewhere may argue they are inherently less immersive. For the sake of discussion, lets assume they are.

    What about it?

    Seriously. What about it? Vast majority of people are perfectly happy playing games that are less than 100% immersive. My own game enjoyment definitely isn't ruined by knowing I'm not killing real people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat
    Now, I'm not saying (literally) dehumanizing an enemy can't make it easier to kill them, it's certainly happened enough in real life. But I've never met a player who seems more troubled about killing a group of human bandits than a group of orc bandits.
    You speak as if "bandit" isn't already a dehumanizing concept in this context. Few players cry after fictional bandits of any kind, because they tend to be nasty, brutish, kind of dim and often ugly to boot. They aren't humans, they are enemies.

  14. - Top - End - #134
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    That's pointless pedantry in this context.

  15. - Top - End - #135
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    One point that I do not think was mentioned is that electing to place your story in the fantasy genre is a deliberate choice that heavily filters what it is useful to have appear in that story.

    Fantasy elements are, tautologically, fantastic. They're outside of the wheelhouse of your readers or players, and make your setting elements and characters less relatable by design. If the fantasy elements are not driving the story, if they don't need to be there -- then why are they there? It is a longstanding principle of story-writing that every element in a story should be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed; this applies to genre as well. A conventional story, no matter whether this is a bodice-ripper or a legal drama or what-have-you, is almost always better told conventionally, without the excess fantasy baggage.

    To the extent that fantasy elements are adding anything to a story, they should be necessary, and should lead the story, or the setting, to substantially different places than it otherwise would have been led to without the fantasy element. If we add magic that does a certain thing to a society, how does society change in response to that magic being available? If some characters face an "outside context problem," how do they handle it? And so on and so forth.

    These may certainly be moral questions as well as more physical ones ("how does economics handle transmutation magic?"), and "how do our moral axioms handle an unfamiliar scenario -- do we really agree/disagree as much as we think we do?" is an extremely common question in fantasy and sci-fi writing, and one of its main virtues. "Do robots have souls?" is an interesting question because of the lack of artificially intelligent robots, and "what are the ethics of vampirism?" is an interesting question because of the lack of vampires -- people are testing their preconceived notions, not just going off of what they think of the vampire convenience store clerk down the way.

    This means that "shades of gray" almost always have absolutely no place in a fantasy story. Telling a wholly conventional story that is wrapped up in conventional moral issues on which it is already accepted that there can be disagreement, and then incidentally adding orcs, could almost certainly have been done better by omitting the orcs. (At best, the orcs are superfluous or are a crutch of some kind, where "it's fantasy, it's not supposed to be realistic" is an excuse for inconsistently-written characters or settings; at worst, the story is a bizarre bait-and-switch where the author has used the fantasy framing to sneak a letter-to-the-editor through security, essentially acting like a Central Park flasher with male anatomy swapped out for talk radio hot takes.) Moral issues that are peripheral to the fantasy story should be black and white if they are not in focus, or if they are not intended to be in focus. They do not need to distract from the parts that are important to the story. Moral issues that are not peripheral should be "blue and orange," instead; they should be fundamentally rooted in the fantasy setting and answerable only by accepting its core assumptions, and at least some questions we might ask in a more conventional setting should have dramatically different answers. Otherwise, the fantasy is not doing any work.

    Some people in the thread have brought up observations like "having an Always Evil race means that they have a serious constraint on their free will" -- well, yes, that's the point! If a race is compelled to do evil regardless of its utility, what does that entail? This is interesting because it does not exist, and raises questions like "does trying to 'redeem' it amount to mutilation?" (This goes double for concepts like alignments and "objective evil" existing at all.) Similarly, physical questions like "what if: geocentrism rather than heliocentrism" are interesting based on that premise, again because this is not how reality works. If orcs can be swapped out for an ethnicity, they should just be the ethnicity, and if any of the philosophical questions that are inherent to a fantasy setting match the chapter-end problems in an intro to philosophy textbook, the game session should be canceled for a book club.

  16. - Top - End - #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja Bear View Post
    Some people in the thread have brought up observations like "having an Always Evil race means that they have a serious constraint on their free will" -- well, yes, that's the point! If a race is compelled to do evil regardless of its utility, what does that entail? This is interesting because it does not exist, and raises questions like "does trying to 'redeem' it amount to mutilation?" (This goes double for concepts like alignments and "objective evil" existing at all.)
    The full observation is "Having an Always Evil species means they have a serious constraint on their free will, to such an extent that they can't be moral agents and thus can't be Evil." This full observation considers the "interesting thing that does not exist" and realizes the initial change has a cascading change. You still have the interesting questions, but they are a bit more interesting that first expected.

    So you now have a species of unaligned non moral agents that are compelled to harm (the kind of harm that would be considered immoral if done by a moral agent). What is the nature of the compulsion? Does trying to remove that restraint amount to mutilation? Is it moral to convert a non moral agent into a moral agent? Are there non moral agents whose wants/desires have moral weight? If so, for their own sake or indirectly?
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2021-07-24 at 06:11 PM.

  17. - Top - End - #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja Bear View Post
    Telling a wholly conventional story that is wrapped up in conventional moral issues on which it is already accepted that there can be disagreement, and then incidentally adding orcs, could almost certainly have been done better by omitting the orcs.
    Well, no, because it's more fun with orcs.

    Would X-Men be better if it was about legislators trying to get anti-bias bills through Congress?
    Last edited by meandean; 2021-07-24 at 06:15 PM.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    okay honest question because I'm admittedly kind of confused, and this just came to mind.

    What exactly is the problem with Always-evil races? Like, what is actually wrong here?

    are you worried about evil babies or something? Because you can always just... not have evil babies...

    maybe it's just the headache, but I'm not sure i understand what the problem is here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    okay honest question because I'm admittedly kind of confused, and this just came to mind.

    What exactly is the problem with Always-evil races? Like, what is actually wrong here?

    are you worried about evil babies or something? Because you can always just... not have evil babies...

    maybe it's just the headache, but I'm not sure i understand what the problem is here.
    For me the problem is: An entity being labeled immoral for something where they have no moral agency.

    PS:
    This is why I greatly appreciate the back of the 3E Monster Manual explaining D&D has no always-evil species.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2021-07-24 at 06:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    The full observation is "Having an Always Evil species means they have a serious constraint on their free will, to such an extent that they can't be moral agents and thus can't be Evil." This full observation considers the "interesting thing that does not exist" and realizes the initial change has a cascading change. You still have the interesting questions, but they are a bit more interesting that first expected.

    So you now have a species of unaligned non moral agents that are compelled to harm (the kind of harm that would be considered immoral if done by a moral agent). What is the nature of the compulsion? Does trying to remove that restraint amount to mutilation? Is it moral to convert a non moral agent into a moral agent? Are there non moral agents whose wants/desires have moral weight? If so, for their own sake or indirectly?
    Exactly! That's worth at least a book in a way that "yet more humans with even pointier ears" really is not.

    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    Well, no, because it's more fun with orcs.

    Would X-Men be better if it was about legislators trying to get anti-bias bills through Congress?
    I'd want to see that at least.

    The X-Men actually never worked particularly well as a metaphor for whatever social movement was going on at the time, or at least I never thought so, because most of the assumptions that historically went into "an anti-bias bill is the best solution for this" specifically don't apply to them. For example, maybe your anti-bias bill imposes an elevator or ramp mandate on private businesses as the "least restrictive means" of accommodating the disabled, since in the past we debated this extensively and found that plenty of people would be able to use these same facilities and it wouldn't really constrain operations of the business (you could load through the same ramp and so forth). But how does the "least restrictive means" test start applying when you have a guy who is eight feet tall and weighs as much as the building, or who only breathes methane? Can you ban the guy who shoots lightning blasts out of his eardrums from school grounds under GFSZA or is this an IDEA act violation? Is it even permissible to impose costs on members of the public at all based on their presumed bias if mind reading is a thing, and you can tell who is actually biased? (Maybe we just have Charles Xavier get warrants from FISA court?)

    That goes along with what I'm saying, though -- to the extent that the X-Men interacting with the fantasy-US political system is at all interesting, it really needs to be "the X-Men" doing it, with the story then addressing the questions that are unique to fantasy superheroes. C-Span would not be made more watchable with a spandex and black leather dress code.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja Bear View Post
    Exactly! That's worth at least a book in a way that "yet more humans with even pointier ears" really is not.
    Spoiler: In case you are interested, but I don't want to derail.
    Show
    Philosophers have investigated some of these questions in their papers. Keywords related to the topic are:
    A: Moral Agent, Moral Agency, Moral Personhood
    B: Moral Status, Moral Standing, Moral Considerability

    This paper could be a starting point (It was the first reputable article I found on google. So please read it critically.)
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/g...-moral-status/

    However I don't think the field has fully explored the question space.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2021-07-24 at 07:21 PM.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    What exactly is the problem with Always-evil races? Like, what is actually wrong here?

    are you worried about evil babies or something? Because you can always just... not have evil babies...
    Especially since that's the default anyway because I'm pretty sure alignmemt-determining karmas can only be gained through actions. The only way a baby could have a non-neutral alignment is if it was either something like a chromatic dragon that hatches out already torturing animals and praying to the dark gods, or if it was a reincarnation of someone evil, and that kind of reincarnation, while it exists in the great wheel cosmology, is explicitly non-standard (I forget the exact refrence for this last part; I *think* it was from On Hallowed Ground)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja Bear View Post
    Spoiler
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    I'd want to see that at least.

    The X-Men actually never worked particularly well as a metaphor for whatever social movement was going on at the time, or at least I never thought so, because most of the assumptions that historically went into "an anti-bias bill is the best solution for this" specifically don't apply to them. For example, maybe your anti-bias bill imposes an elevator or ramp mandate on private businesses as the "least restrictive means" of accommodating the disabled, since in the past we debated this extensively and found that plenty of people would be able to use these same facilities and it wouldn't really constrain operations of the business (you could load through the same ramp and so forth). But how does the "least restrictive means" test start applying when you have a guy who is eight feet tall and weighs as much as the building, or who only breathes methane? Can you ban the guy who shoots lightning blasts out of his eardrums from school grounds under GFSZA or is this an IDEA act violation? Is it even permissible to impose costs on members of the public at all based on their presumed bias if mind reading is a thing, and you can tell who is actually biased? (Maybe we just have Charles Xavier get warrants from FISA court?)

    That goes along with what I'm saying, though -- to the extent that the X-Men interacting with the fantasy-US political system is at all interesting, it really needs to be "the X-Men" doing it, with the story then addressing the questions that are unique to fantasy superheroes. C-Span would not be made more watchable with a spandex and black leather dress code.
    Hear! Hear!

    And tangential to this (and I realize that they haven't actually done any of the X-Men movies yet due to IP shenanigans, but hear me out) I feel that one of the greatest successes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been that they've been able to, not necessarily to eliminate but to at least stem the tide of the undercurrent of banality and mediocrity that always underlaid the earlier marvel movies. All the other marvel movies, no matter what epic thing was going on upfront, were always really about these banal everyday problems; the X-Men face discrimination, Peter Parker is coming of age, the Ben Grimm is treated poorly because he looks different, Wolverine has PTSD. And they didn't take it far enough that it becomes funny like DC did in Teen Titans Go, just far enough that it becomes humdrum and mundane. When someone has a normal person problem in the MCU they superhero it up; Starlord's abusive father qualifies as a mass-murderer just from the things he's done to his children, Bruce Banner has PTSD but it only affects one of his multiple personalities and unfortunately it's the one that can use his superpowers, Nebula and Gamora acquired their abusive stepfather after said stepfather murdered their real parents etc etc etc. The closest thing is Tony Stark, who has regular PTSD, except unlike Wolverine he didn't get it from some hamfisted parable about the military-industrial complex and government overreach, he got it from fighting in an appropriately superheroic atomic war against space alien invaders
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-25 at 03:55 AM.

  23. - Top - End - #143
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    okay honest question because I'm admittedly kind of confused, and this just came to mind.

    What exactly is the problem with Always-evil races? Like, what is actually wrong here?

    are you worried about evil babies or something? Because you can always just... not have evil babies...

    maybe it's just the headache, but I'm not sure i understand what the problem is here.
    To me the issue really is that it creates a less interesting world. There are no surprises when you encounter always evil race, they are kill on sight. This prevents you from developing individuals of that race into compelling characters, even compelling villains. They don't need elaborate reasons to do evil things, they just do it because the book says they do.

  24. - Top - End - #144
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    I feel compelled once again to point out that there are no always evil races

  25. - Top - End - #145
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    What exactly is the problem with Always-evil races? Like, what is actually wrong here?
    It's not "the" problem. Different people have different perceived problems with the concept depending on what moral philosophy they approach the concept from.

    For J.R.R. Tolkien, there were two problems. The first was the idea that evil cannot create, only corrupt. He played with the idea of orcs having been created by Morgoth, but abandoned it because it clashed with that idea. The second was issue of free will. If orcs are corruptions of humans or elves, they must have free will, the ability to choose between good and evil. Against that background, there ought to be chance, however slight, of redemption for orcs.

    You're not Tolkien and don't have to share his views, so you could just say orcs are a natural evil instead of moral evil and be done with it. Or you could ascribe to some moral philosophy that doesn't have hang-ups about free will and evil being able to create.

    Spoiler: Tangent: free will is not mutually exclusive with being always evil
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    For practical purposes, free will is the potential to choose between several courses of action. However, while you can value this potential, you cannot actually perceive it. You cannot go back in time and see the same person in the same situation making a different choice. Only one branch of the decision tree is ever actualized and visible to you. So, instead, you are forced to look at other persons in similar situations and see if they make different choices. Everything we practically consider proof for free will is really just proof of variance.

    But there is no real need for variance in behaviour of a free agent. The simplest way for a free agent to be always evil is for them to always choose evil. There is no actual contradiction in that statement. Whether we're talking of a single being or a group of beings doesn't matter. You can have an entire species always choosing evil as easily as an individual always choosing evil. It simply feels off for a human to think of a free agents with invariant behaviour, because variance is what we expect to observe, variance is what we normally use to prove there's more than one option. If someone could do something but never does it, how can you know they actually could? The answer is that you can't, but your inability to know doesn't preclude it being true.


    For people who aren't Tolkien, other problems typically have to do with perceived allegory or perceived similarity with whatever they happen to consider controversial this morning. It's impossible to give an exhaustive list and I don't want to rehash the examples from earlier this thread.

  26. - Top - End - #146
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharur View Post
    Being good isn't necessarily an advantage to survival.
    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    That's not quite true - to a great extent, in real life it is an advantage. Just societies that are mutually helpful (good, taking care of others) tend to thrive.
    Most major empires have had slavery in one form or another at some point of their history and most of these could not have reached their height without it. Additionally, I think you'd probably be hard pressed to find one from more than maybe 50-100 years ago that didn't have a completely draconian system of laws

    EDIT:
    You don't know the power of the dark side
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-25 at 05:14 AM.

  27. - Top - End - #147
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Most major empires have had slavery in one form or another at some point of their history and most of these could not have reached their height without it. Additionally, I think you'd probably be hard pressed to find one from more than maybe 50-100 years ago that didn't have a completely draconian system of laws

    EDIT:
    You don't know the power of the dark side
    Eh, i'm not going to argue that slavery wasn't evil, but even then there are degrees of evil in there. I recently read an anecdote about a roman emperor who went to visit one of his wealthy subjects and one of the slaves dropped a cup. The emperor was outraged when he found out the slave was to be brutally executed for such infraction and personally broke every cup in the house and told the master he could not execute a slave for something he did too. There are degrees of evil. The most distinct trait of evil creatures seems to be sadism, killing and torturing with no apparent reason.

  28. - Top - End - #148
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoja1 View Post
    To me the issue really is that it creates a less interesting world. There are no surprises when you encounter always evil race, they are kill on sight. This prevents you from developing individuals of that race into compelling characters, even compelling villains. They don't need elaborate reasons to do evil things, they just do it because the book says they do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    I feel compelled once again to point out that there are no always evil races
    @Samoja, I don't think you have responded to Bohandas's comment. What context is the thread assuming? D&D generally avoids inherently evil species. The 3E Monster Manual explicitly mentions exceptions exist. 5E is less clear but also has no always evil species by my reading.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Spoiler: Tangent: free will is not mutually exclusive with being always evil
    Show
    For practical purposes, free will is the potential to choose between several courses of action. However, while you can value this potential, you cannot actually perceive it. You cannot go back in time and see the same person in the same situation making a different choice. Only one branch of the decision tree is ever actualized and visible to you. So, instead, you are forced to look at other persons in similar situations and see if they make different choices. Everything we practically consider proof for free will is really just proof of variance.

    But there is no real need for variance in behaviour of a free agent. The simplest way for a free agent to be always evil is for them to always choose evil. There is no actual contradiction in that statement. Whether we're talking of a single being or a group of beings doesn't matter. You can have an entire species always choosing evil as easily as an individual always choosing evil. It simply feels off for a human to think of a free agents with invariant behaviour, because variance is what we expect to observe, variance is what we normally use to prove there's more than one option. If someone could do something but never does it, how can you know they actually could? The answer is that you can't, but your inability to know doesn't preclude it being true.
    Spoiler: Tangent: free will is not mutually exclusive with being always evil
    Show

    A free agent has the capacity to make moral choices. That capacity for choice means they could invariantly choose the immoral option. Just like you can travel along a binary tree by always picking the right branch.

    We can extend this from 1 individual, to 2 individuals, to a population of N individuals, and let N grow to equal the current population of the species. We could have a species with the capacity for individuals choosing otherwise but have no example exceptions in the population.

    This is where the free will based objection ends. The species has free will. The species is not inherently always evil with no moral agency despite the entire population having used that moral agency to be evil.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2021-07-25 at 07:57 AM.

  29. - Top - End - #149
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja Bear View Post
    The X-Men actually never worked particularly well as a metaphor for whatever social movement was going on at the time, or at least I never thought so, because most of the assumptions that historically went into "an anti-bias bill is the best solution for this" specifically don't apply to them. For example, maybe your anti-bias bill imposes an elevator or ramp mandate on private businesses as the "least restrictive means" of accommodating the disabled, since in the past we debated this extensively and found that plenty of people would be able to use these same facilities and it wouldn't really constrain operations of the business (you could load through the same ramp and so forth). But how does the "least restrictive means" test start applying when you have a guy who is eight feet tall and weighs as much as the building, or who only breathes methane? Can you ban the guy who shoots lightning blasts out of his eardrums from school grounds under GFSZA or is this an IDEA act violation? Is it even permissible to impose costs on members of the public at all based on their presumed bias if mind reading is a thing, and you can tell who is actually biased? (Maybe we just have Charles Xavier get warrants from FISA court?)

    That goes along with what I'm saying, though -- to the extent that the X-Men interacting with the fantasy-US political system is at all interesting, it really needs to be "the X-Men" doing it, with the story then addressing the questions that are unique to fantasy superheroes. C-Span would not be made more watchable with a spandex and black leather dress code.
    Alright, I mean, that's your opinion about, in some different hypothetical world, it could be done in such a way that appeals to you more. My point is that, in the world that exists, they've spent half a century using it as a metaphor for current political issues, and it's made them billions of dollars and (more importantly) meant a lot to a lot of other people.

    In "God Loves, Man Kills", Reverend Stryker doesn't hate Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler because of the details of how phasing or teleportation would function in a real-life context. He hates them because they were born different than he was.
    Last edited by meandean; 2021-07-25 at 08:23 AM.

  30. - Top - End - #150
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Personally I've always thought the whole "oh no, innate evil!" thing is a bit of red herring. Even if you take that out entirely, you still have entire societies of creatures that are basically entirely "evil" (in the colloquial sense of the word) by nurture. The difference is usually pretty minimal in practice.
    Last edited by NorthernPhoenix; 2021-07-25 at 08:10 AM.

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