A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #241
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    I think culpability is the wrong question, because I think it doesn't matter.
    What does matter in game and in setting is.
    1) can it be detected (assuming alignment detection is an ability that exists in the game)
    2) can it be used to predict future actions.

    If you know a monster is going to go out and eat peasants at night it does not matter if it is doing so because of an unbreakable curse and might feel bad about it or if it just likes hurting things.
    What matters is its killing people and will continue to kill people until stopped.

    If orcs have a extreme temper, low impulse control and little inhibition against using violence against non orcs, sure it might not mean you need to exterminate all the orcs but maybe you don't let large group of armed orcs into the city. Maybe you only let them in when disarmed and a few at a time even if that's not considered necessary for "good" races who are given the benefit of the doubt.

  2. - Top - End - #242
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Untrue. Knowledge of real moral philosophy will allow for better portrayal of it in games.
    But is adding real moral philosophy to the game fun for all participants AND what all participants want?
    My experience argues the answer, from the player standpoint, is almost always no. They don't want to struggle with difficult decisions or moral ambiguities. They want clear paths with decision variables that are pretty much binary.

  3. - Top - End - #243
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    No, but I've read about the case.
    Recommend it. Likewise his book Outrage.
    someone's wack misintepretation of the song caused significant material harm doesn't and shouldn't make the writers in any way culpable
    I concur. (A similar thing was brought up in the 80's but we are straying from topics and towards the edge of the flat world of the forums, so I'll stop).
    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    The oldest tanar'ri, Demogorgon, was made mostly from "mortal fears" (though down at the core of him, is the soul of a CE mortal - as the first tanar'ri created, he was probably created using the first mortal soul condemned to the Abyss).
    Is that 2e lore? The original Demogorgon from Eldritch Wizardry was not described thusly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Untrue. Knowledge of real moral philosophy will allow for better portrayal of it in games.
    Yep. Gygax never went to college (Arneson did, and was described by his peers in the 60's as being very smart/intelligent). But a great many of his successors in 1e and subsequent D&D editions did, and they all failed miserably at folding moral philosophy into a game. Maybe that's because moral philosophy is really hard to gamify, but is an interesting thing to talk about.
    How sure are you that the economic paradigm and how city people think of and treat cattle, is different from the economic paradigm and way of thinking Lawful Evil Illithids apply to humans?
    FWIW, I have always found the parallel to be apt, but, since mind flayers are more or less Lovecraftian horror monsters, aberrations as a creature type, the overlap between how they think and how humans thinks is bound to be well less than 100%. (Visually, think of intersecting sets; how large is that pointy oval that illustrates where the two sets overlap? Is is skinny or wide?)

    Mind Flayers are far better monsters, as are beholders, when we consider that overlap to be skinny ~ they are more horrible when one cannot grasp their thought processes. (See also the TV Trope three axis alignment ~ like the slaad, they are on the bacon/necktie axis). Or, go full Lovecraft, conceptually.
    The problem is that Players are human, the DM is human, and it takes Work to portray them as mad/inscrutable/alien. A great many gamers can't be bothered. One of the things about all of the folks who created D&D out of the primordial ooze of war gaming + something Diplomacy + that spark is that they were avid, voracious readers of fiction, mythology, history, pulp, speculative fiction, and were also immersed in movies as story telling mediums.

    Heck, people have trouble with elves. (Fine article in GiTP somewhere about 3.5 era "so you want to play an elf" tries to capture some of that ... it does a fair job).

    As I've gone through the stories of Vance and Lovecraft recently, I am tempted to dig out my collection of Conan stories again, and am getting a recharging of the 'feel' of the horror of monsters from "way out there" that the Far Realms are supposed to embody. I am also reminded of how 'paid by the word' can induce a lot of bloated prose.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-31 at 09:43 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (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!

  4. - Top - End - #244
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    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    I think culpability is the wrong question, because I think it doesn't matter.
    What does matter in game and in setting is.
    1) can it be detected (assuming alignment detection is an ability that exists in the game)
    2) can it be used to predict future actions.

    If you know a monster is going to go out and eat peasants at night it does not matter if it is doing so because of an unbreakable curse and might feel bad about it or if it just likes hurting things.
    What matters is its killing people and will continue to kill people until stopped.
    So Detect Alignment (Hostile or Killer)? That would also ping for man eating tigers. Which seems consistent with your objective of only focusing on the killing rather than the agency.

    That is a consistent position, although it might cause confusing if it uses a misnomer (see https://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0012.html).

    Similarly when alignment is used as an allegiance/faction system rather than having a moral element, it behaves similar to your description. It also satisfies my concern because it stops assigning moral culpability to entities for things they did not have moral agency over (because it stops assigning moral culpability at all). Although using a misnomer can confuse the issue if it fails to clarify and communicate the departure.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2021-07-31 at 09:50 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #245
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    So Detect Alignment (Hostile or Killer)? That would also ping for man eating tigers. Which seems consistent with your objective of only focusing on the killing rather than the agency.

    That is a consistent position, although it might cause confusing if it uses a misnomer (see https://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0012.html).
    I thought that tigers were "alignment, hungry" in D&D. Sharks too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (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!

  6. - Top - End - #246
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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I thought that tigers were "alignment, hungry" in D&D. Sharks too.
    I agree.

    I thought Hostile, Killer might better describe the man eating tiger in awa's system since they were focused on the killing rather than the Hunger.

  7. - Top - End - #247
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    So Detect Alignment (Hostile or Killer)? That would also ping for man eating tigers. Which seems consistent with your objective of only focusing on the killing rather than the agency.

    That is a consistent position, although it might cause confusing if it uses a misnomer (see https://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0012.html).

    Similarly when alignment is used as an allegiance/faction system rather than having a moral element, it behaves similar to your description. It also satisfies my concern because it stops assigning moral culpability to entities for things they did not have moral agency over (because it stops assigning moral culpability at all). Although using a misnomer can confuse the issue if it fails to clarify and communicate the departure.
    You cant clarify D and D alignment because it changes from writer to writer and from edition to edition. Every reader sees a slightly different thing and even when they don't the perception of the evilness of any given act will vary as well. People cant even agree on what evil is philosophers have debated it for as long as their have been philosophers. Even if 6th edition unified every thing it still wouldn't work because people would bring in baggage from past editions.

    My definition is imperfect to be certain but though wibbly wobbly it is practical from both a game play perspective and a world setting. Where as a serial killer/ sapient species who has a genetic predisposition for extreme sadism and a low impulse control and thus detects neutral would not be satisfying for player or useful in setting. In the end no answer will satisfy everyone because peoples definition of evil is different from person to person.

    That said I have seen settings where people with exceptionally unusual psychology being able to slip past something akin to an evil detector was a key part of the story, but it was a setting lacking non humans and the story was about exploring the flaws in this system.
    Last edited by awa; 2021-07-31 at 10:12 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #248
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    But is adding real moral philosophy to the game fun for all participants AND what all participants want?
    My experience argues the answer, from the player standpoint, is almost always no. They don't want to struggle with difficult decisions or moral ambiguities. They want clear paths with decision variables that are pretty much binary.
    My experience is pretty much the opposite with most players enjoying some degree of difficult decisions and moral ambiguity (though to what degree can be quite varied, both between individuals and occasions).

    Then again, most people I've played with dislike D&D alignments (or other forms of objective morality) for similar reasons and the fact that those remain in edition after edition might suggest that a majority agrees with your experience rather than mine.
    Last edited by Batcathat; 2021-07-31 at 10:36 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #249
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post

    The oldest tanar'ri, Demogorgon, was made mostly from "mortal fears" (though down at the core of him, is the soul of a CE mortal - as the first tanar'ri created, he was probably created using the first mortal soul condemned to the Abyss).
    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Is that 2e lore?
    Late 3e (Dragon Magazine's Demonomicon: Demogorgon article, written by the same person that wrote Fiendish Codex 1).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon 357: Demogorgon: Prince of Demons, by James Jacobs

    As mortal life appeared and their souls came to the Abyss, the Queen of Chaos was among the first to cultivate and nurture this new brand of evil. For as they grew, they transformed into a new breed of demon- the tanar'ri.

    The first of this new breed of demons was a twisted, deformed abortion of evil with boneless arms, twin simian heads, reptilian legs, and a twisted tail- a snapping, howling and ultimately uncontrollable monster formed from the primal fears of mortal souls. The Queen of Chaos tossed this creature aside, and those that came after were less broken. Succubi formed from mortal lust. Glabrezu from mortal envy. Alkiliths from mortal sloth. And more, and more. And as the tanar'ri grew, the obyriths called upon their greatest fleshwarpers, the sibriexes, to adjust and transform them more. Before long, the tanar'ri had grown to rival the obyriths in variety and speciality.

    The most powerful of these was Miska the Wolf Spider, and when he matured to a demon lord to rival any of the obyrith lords of old, the Queen of Chaos crowned him the new Prince of Demons and marched on the outer multiverse.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2021-07-31 at 10:42 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #250
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    I think, even though he's a demon, there's at least a 50% chance that that "formed from the primal fears of mortals" is metaphorical

  11. - Top - End - #251
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    "Fear" isn't exactly one of the seven deadly sins - but a character can be "driven by fear" to do terrible things.

    I could see the Queen of Chaos knowing what prehistoric mortals fear (snakes, crocodiles, angry baboons etc) and using this as a starting point to build Demogorgon around.




    The point is that all tanar'ri are what happens when a mortal soul that has come to the Abyss, transforms - even Demogorgon, oldest of them all.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2021-07-31 at 10:58 AM.
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  12. - Top - End - #252
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugyqOSUlR2A]I don't know that I believe that 2.5 cows per month is harder to sustainably source than 1 humanoid per month. For an isolated community maybe, but once you pass a certain number of cows in the region then sustaining that mind flayer becomes easy.
    My point was more that mind flayers are inherently expensive than that 3-5 cows is more pricy than one human life each month. Humans take a lot longer to grow than cows for one thing, plus all the ethical issues with sacrificing people to the psionic squid creatures.

    Few communities could afford to support even one ilithid, regardless of what exactly it eats. In the case of the BoEDs mind flayer monk I have to assume the monastery they live in is near a big community, because a remote mountain village type monastery is not going to be able to provide enough livestock to feed them unless the ilithid is spending time running after goats and deer in the nearby wilderness.


    Bit of a personal taste thing, but I would actually like to see mind flayers who don't eat sapient brains but are still evil. Let them go all decadent Roman emperor on things, importing hippos and monkeys and tigers to eat in lavish feasts, driving small birds to near extinction so they can eat their own body weight in lark's brains, all while neglecting the proper administration and upkeep of the realm that enables them to do this.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

  13. - Top - End - #253
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    I've actually altered my setting's take on mind flayers (both origin and bodily needs):

    They don't have to eat brains, except as part of reproduction/source of power (basically juicing), and there animal brains will do. The larva was designed originally (by aboleth working for something bigger) to sit in humanoid brains and observe and report without altering things; it was demonic intervention that twisted it into the squid-faces we all know and love. This means that some mind flayers remain free; some even become symbiotic with the host (instead of destroying it). But many revel in the "power" and "freedom" that leaning hard into the evil brain-eater gives them. Since they don't need it constantly, they're easier to maintain.

    One of the things I've worked on is making sure that races are actually ecologically sane--mind flayers and their brain eating, giants and dragons and their metabolic needs all mean that there has to be some changes. Because the way it's written just doesn't work, at least if you actually want civilizations of these kind of beings. Which I do.
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  14. - Top - End - #254
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    But is adding real moral philosophy to the game fun for all participants AND what all participants want?
    A typical game session has to entertain a number of people countable with one's fingers. If you can't figure out a moral dilemma that'd be entertaining to such small number of people, you aren't really trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    My experience argues the answer, from the player standpoint, is almost always no. They don't want to struggle with difficult decisions or moral ambiguities. They want clear paths with decision variables that are pretty much binary.
    I, on the other hand, haven't had difficulties putting moral issues into games, or putting more than binary choices in my games, even when playing with kids. Even the computer games I myself played as a kid had moral ambiguity and more than binary choices - nevermind that you often only need a binary choice to create a moral dilemma.

    ---

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Yep. Gygax never went to college (Arneson did, and was described by his peers in the 60's as being very smart/intelligent). But a great many of his successors in 1e and subsequent D&D editions did, and they all failed miserably at folding moral philosophy into a game. Maybe that's because moral philosophy is really hard to gamify, but is an interesting thing to talk about.
    Going or not going into college is not any kind of dividing line for whether a person knows and can discuss moral philosophy. In 1st edition AD&D alignment section, Gygax paraphrases Jeremy Bentham ("Greatest good for the greatest number") and talks about expanding human rights into creature rights because fantasy has more sapient beings than just humans. Just understanding he is paraphrasing Jeremy Bentham and understanding what human rights, and more broadly, natural rights are immediately makes it easier to understand what is or isn't Lawful Good in AD&D.

    Subsequent editions weren't doomed to failure when it came to folding moral philosophy into games - TSR for 2nd edition deliberately watered down alignment due to marketing decision to sell their product to kids, and they deliberately decided to hew close to then-current ideas of what are appropriate to kids. Nothing about that was because it's hard to gamify morals - again, even on the computer game front we've had games from times of Ultima 4, 1985, tackling this.

    Building game scenarios on simple moral dilemmas, like the Heinz dilemma, is trivial - some of them make for roleplaying scenarios as-is. Similarly you can build game scenarios on game theoretic constructs that touch on morality, such as Prisoner's dilemma and Stag Hunt.

    ---

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    FWIW, I have always found the parallel to be apt, but, since mind flayers are more or less Lovecraftian horror monsters, aberrations as a creature type, the overlap between how they think and how humans thinks is bound to be well less than 100%. (Visually, think of intersecting sets; how large is that pointy oval that illustrates where the two sets overlap? Is is skinny or wide?)
    You don't need for there to be 100% overlap between how humans and Illithids think to ask the question I asked. Indeed, what is one of the ways humans justify treating cattle poorly? It's because they are our intellectual inferiors. Cows with their feeble Int 2 brains cannot think the way we do, cannot experience what we do. So what is one of the ways Illithids justify treating humans poorly? Well, we with out feeble int 10 brains cannot think the way they do...

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    The point is that all tanar'ri are what happens when a mortal soul that has come to the Abyss, transforms - even Demogorgon, oldest of them all.
    Except for the ones that arise spontaneously, which Codex 1 also mentions

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    How sure are you that the economic paradigm and how city people think of and treat cattle, is different from the economic paradigm and way of thinking Lawful Evil Illithids apply to humans?
    as a general rule, i don't think about that at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Going or not going into college is not any kind of dividing line for whether a person knows and can discuss moral philosophy.
    It can inform their writing style, and both the depth and breadth of their ability to synthesize. That said, going to college is no guarantee of being able to do that: I have had my fair share of colleagues and subordinates who went to college and were no better than over educated fools.
    As a point of reference, I am leaning into the classical idea of a 'liberal education' before universities became trade schools. (Specialization is for ants!) Both GG and DA grew up within that context. (My parents went to college back when the 'classical liberal education' model was the norm). EGG didn't have the same toolbox DA did, but he sure as hell had the inspiration and the energy. And plenty of imagination.
    In 1st edition AD&D alignment section, Gygax paraphrases Jeremy Bentham ("Greatest good for the greatest number") and talks about expanding human rights into creature rights because fantasy has more sapient beings than just humans.
    He wrote a lot of interesting and useful stuff in very clumsy prose.
    Just understanding he is paraphrasing Jeremy Bentham and understanding what human rights, and more broadly, natural rights are immediately makes it easier to understand what is or isn't Lawful Good in AD&D.
    No disagreement there.
    I was around for the transition between LNC to the two axis, and I disliked it. Matter of taste, I suppose.

    As an aside: I hardly find Bentham to be authoritative on matters of morality, nor is Utilitarianism The Answer to morality. You might as well quote Spock: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and try to call that moral philosophy.
    Subsequent editions weren't doomed to failure when it came to folding moral philosophy into games - TSR for 2nd edition deliberately watered down alignment due to marketing decision to sell their product to kids, and they deliberately decided to hew close to then-current ideas of what are appropriate to kids.
    Pre contaminated by Benjamin Spock, for a different Spock reference. And I nowhere said that they were doomed to failure. They simply failed.
    Building game scenarios on simple moral dilemmas, like the Heinz dilemma, is trivial - some of them make for roleplaying scenarios as-is. Similarly you can build game scenarios on game theoretic constructs that touch on morality, such as Prisoner's dilemma and Stag Hunt.
    The Heinz dilemma answer is "if he's willing to risk paying the price for his crime of breaking and entering, he should" - love is sacrifice. On the other hand, if she's got a million dollar life insurance policy with him as beneficiary, and he's having an affair with another woman, don't bother.

    The prisoner's dilemma is only useful as a thought experiment; when one is a prisoner, one actually has no choice. One is utterly at the mercy of their captors. (Citation, if you want it, is SERE training). It is at best a form of mental masturbation, as is the Trolley Problem.
    You don't need for there to be 100% overlap
    Nor did I call for one. What I was pointing out is that there Is Not a 100% overlap; how much, or how little overlap there is between the alien brain of a mind flayer, and a human (which all players are) is a dialable scale. If you go back to the fictional origins of the mind flayer, or that which inspired it, the less overlap the better but that requires more work for the DM mentally.
    And some DM's can't be bothered to put forth that effort, or simply lack the tools to do so.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-31 at 01:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (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!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Except for the ones that arise spontaneously, which Codex 1 also mentions
    Isn't that a hypothesis by Tulket Nor Ahm, rather than something that's confirmed to happen?


    Even then, what appears to be "the abyss spontaneously spawning a demon" could actually be "an invisible mortal soul arrives in the abyss, touches the surface of the abyss, and the Abyss promptly produces a demon around that soul" .
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2021-07-31 at 01:04 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Even then, what appears to be "the abyss spontaneously spawning a demon" could actually be "an invisible mortal soul arrives in the abyss, touches the surface of the abyss, and the Abyss promptly produces a demon around that soul" .
    That's kinda where my brain goes, and it may be consistent with the cosmology of D&D 5e, and perhaps other editions. Things arising 'ex nihilo' fits magical and metaphysical worlds just fine. Spontaneous generation also fits, as a model.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (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!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    best i can guess is "The desire for survival is powerful, and ultimately begets the desire for society"


    Sor Orkam and Orkeve might be the first orcs, but that just means they make up the rules. Biologically they still want their species to survive, so they don't actively kill any of their children. But they might do things like beating the weak out, abandoning those who can't fend for themselves, or encouraging regular competitions of strength. That doesn't mean they're not cooperating to put food on the table, a roof over their head, and water in their bowls.
    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    your making a common mistake of assuming an evil person must be equally evil to all people. Lets look at cats for a second, a humanoid who did the things a cat does (torture and kill smaller weaker beings for no purpose beyond their own amusement) would be evil, and yet mommy cats love their kittens. Cats love killing things and yet cats rarely kill each.

    A virtue could even be the source of their evil they love their family so much that they will do ANYTHING to protect it. Oh its winter and every one is hungry well then I think we should march over to our neighbors kill them and feed them to our children our child suffer matters more than our neighbors lives. Oh this other community might someday pose a potential threat to ours we should preemptively destroy them because even a small risk to our children is worth more than their entire lives. Think how many parents wouldn't hesitate to kill a snake if they saw it near their child. the mere threat that the snake might harm their child is more important than the snakes life.

    Evil and good do not have equal weight, you eat one baby and then suddenly that's all any one can talk about.
    The problem with these arguments is that human beings aren't an always evil species. Being good is a multi-part trait. You have to have a sense of empathy, a sense of responsibility, a sense of integrity, humility, a bunch of other personality traits. The reason evil people's perfidy is limited and sometimes sleeps is that you can be evil by just missing a couple of the pieces it takes to be good. If we're saying a species is incapable of being good, we're saying that
    every single one of them is missing the critical pieces of goodness. Why should an orc want the orc species to survive, if they don't have the sense of responsibility to care if anything in the world survives them? Why should they cooperate to provide for themselves without humility? Why should they care for their children when they're incapable of empathy?
    Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gayce, Richard Ramirez, Jeffry Dahmer, and Dennis Rader could not create a functioning community out of their reasoned self-interest: You need some good people to build a community on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Not to mention the first Orcs or Goblins were (depending on system/setting) possibly created en masse by an evil deity and commanded by it.

    Or bred for war, and either used as charging fodder or subject to military discipline.

    Or possibly a spontaneously arise from spores, with the biggest baddest and most brutal generating the most spores for the next generation.
    I've got no problem with this line of reasoning. I've actually rewritten my setting's orcs, gnolls, and goblins to fit this idea. What bothers me is when "naturalistic" species don't have the traits you need to build a society.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    These are your failure of imagination more than anything. And in case of orcs, failure to read the rules.

    so what? An author used a trope poorly. Maybe you can't understand or imagine how it could be used well. Doesn't matter - it creates no imperative on how that trope should be used.
    Let's have it out mate: If you're too stupid to understand the implications of a statement, it's absolute hubris to turn that around and pretend other people lack your big brain capacity for stuffing your fingers in your ears and shrieking until everyone having a thoughtful conversation goes away. If it hurts your enjoyment to think for more than a second about worldbuilding issues don't hang out on roleplaying forums.


    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    If a being does not have moral agency, then they are not morally culpable for the moral choices they don't have.
    Extremely controversial position.
    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    But is adding real moral philosophy to the game fun for all participants AND what all participants want?
    My experience argues the answer, from the player standpoint, is almost always no. They don't want to struggle with difficult decisions or moral ambiguities. They want clear paths with decision variables that are pretty much binary.
    I think here we run into the issue that our game groups are made out of our friends. I've got degrees in philosophy and psychology. So naturally my friends can't imagine something more useless than pretending to have fun playing an rpg without difficult moral ambiguities.
    Non est salvatori salvator,
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    VoNV only applies to humanoids and monstrous humanoids. She can eat all the cow and even unicorn brains she wants, though I'm guessing she limits herself to the former. (In whatever village she lives near, those cows are getting killed anyway.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    I think feeding a friendly mind flayer might be rather expensive all things considered. IIRC they need to eat one human brain or an equivalent each month at a subsistence level. Cow brains are smaller than human ones, and other livestock smaller still...
    The volume of livestock consumed by humans would be more than adequate to supply enough brains for the microscopic percentage of illithids that are not evil- the problem is that illithids can't reliably live on the brains of unintelligent animals. You either need to supply the brains of intelligent species or brains from unusually intelligent members of animal species, and nobody is out there measuring the INT scores of individual cattle.

    An adventurer-illithid can resolve this problem pretty easily by just doing what adventurers normally do and dining on the justly slain, but even so, it's kinda grisly and offputting.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    One of the things I've worked on is making sure that races are actually ecologically sane--mind flayers and their brain eating, giants and dragons and their metabolic needs all mean that there has to be some changes. Because the way it's written just doesn't work, at least if you actually want civilizations of these kind of beings. Which I do.
    How do standard mind flayers not work ecologically? I mean, they could probably take over the setting and infect everyone if they wanted to, but they don't, because they need something to feed on.

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    But is adding real moral philosophy to the game fun for all participants AND what all participants want?
    My experience argues the answer, from the player standpoint, is almost always no. They don't want to struggle with difficult decisions or moral ambiguities. They want clear paths with decision variables that are pretty much binary.
    Dungeon World is fairly good at handling alignment with some degree of nuance without getting into the nitty details of deontological ethics vs. consequentialism, et cetera. But I can understand the impulse to have simple alignment systems in the context of how D&D is usually played- as a fine-scale tactical wargame with some diet role-play sprinkled on top. In that scenario it really is just easier to have the monsters colour-coded for convenience.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    The prisoner's dilemma is only useful as a thought experiment; when one is a prisoner, one actually has no choice. One is utterly at the mercy of their captors. (Citation, if you want it, is SERE training). It is at best a form of mental masturbation, as is the Trolley Problem.
    You're going to have to explain to me how the prisoner's dilemma is purely a thought experiment, because that seems bizarre to me. Actual criminals facing the possibility of prison sentences face the choice of whether to inform on other criminals or remain loyal to their gangs constantly. Incarceration is not mind control and the legal systems of developed nations have many knobs and dials with which a defendant can engage.
    Give directly to the extreme poor.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    The problem with these arguments is that human beings aren't an always evil species.
    For much of history that was only a matter of circumstance. The majority of premodern societies were overwhelmingly some combination of racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, warlike, and/or religiously intolerant. Any lack of evil was a consequence of never running into the right/wrong person. And I don't mean just during the middle ages, and this includes the first-world countries most of you are reading from.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gayce, Richard Ramirez, Jeffry Dahmer, and Dennis Rader could not create a functioning community out of their reasoned self-interest: You need some good people to build a community on.
    What about Charles Manson or Jim Jones? Imagine if Jim Jones hadn't been able to source enough cyanide, they'd still be out there in the middle of nowhere in that brutal prison they built for themselves.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-31 at 02:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I was around for the transition between LNC to the two axis, and I disliked it. Matter of taste, I suppose.
    I use both versions of alignment, I don't have strong preference of one over the other, in practice I clock more game time with one-axis alignment than two-axes.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    As an aside: I hardly find Bentham to be authoritative on matters of morality, nor is Utilitarianism The Answer to morality. You might as well quote Spock: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and try to call that moral philosophy.
    I don't consider utilitarianism or Bentham as be-all-end-all of moral philosophy either, but that doesn't take anything away from the real point: AD&D does refer to real moral philosophy and knowing enough of moral philosophy to understand which one makes deciphering the text easier. As for that Spock quote, that is moral philosophy, indeed, it is the same philosophy. There is no trying involved, that's what it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    And I nowhere said that they were doomed to failure. They simply failed.
    My point is that they didn't simply fail, they deliberately took actions opposite to that purpose.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    The prisoner's dilemma is only useful as a thought experiment; when one is a prisoner, one actually has no choice. One is utterly at the mercy of their captors. (Citation, if you want it, is SERE training). It is at best a form of mental masturbation, as is the Trolley Problem.
    Tabletop roleplaying games are, by their nature, "just" complex thought experiments, you might as well call every game session a mental circle jerk. It is trivial for a game about being a prisoner to give choice to its players; whatever lesson you're trying to draw from SERE training doesn't apply here.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Nor did I call for one. What I was pointing out is that there Is Not a 100% overlap; how much, or how little overlap there is between the alien brain of a mind flayer, and a human (which all players are) is a dialable scale. If you go back to the fictional origins of the mind flayer, or that which inspired it, the less overlap the better but that requires more work for the DM mentally.
    And some DM's can't be bothered to put forth that effort, or simply lack the tools to do so.
    I don't disagree with this, but it's tangential to the ethical issue I'm trying to highlight.

    ---

    @Chauncymancer: the worldbuilding issue you were stating to exist doesn't actually exist in relevant source materials; orcs aren't incapable of empathy towards other orcs, it's dubious if lack of empathy is necessary to be any kind of Evil to begin with. The rest of your ad hominem is absurd given my prolonged engagement in this thread and the number of points I've discussed.
    Last edited by Vahnavoi; 2021-07-31 at 02:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    What about Charles Manson or Jim Jones? Imagine if Jim Jones hadn't been able to source enough cyanide, they'd still be out there in the middle of nowhere in that brutal prison they built for themselves.
    Or, to give a more controversial example, have you ever actually read the code of Hammurabi? If he had lived in any other era he would not have been remembered as a just man. And similar things can be said for almost ancient founder or early leader of a country or a religion.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-31 at 02:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    The problem with these arguments is that human beings aren't an always evil species. Being good is a multi-part trait. You have to have a sense of empathy, a sense of responsibility, a sense of integrity, humility, a bunch of other personality traits. The reason evil people's perfidy is limited and sometimes sleeps is that you can be evil by just missing a couple of the pieces it takes to be good. If we're saying a species is incapable of being good, we're saying that every single one of them is missing the critical pieces of goodness. Why should an orc want the orc species to survive, if they don't have the sense of responsibility to care if anything in the world survives them? Why should they cooperate to provide for themselves without humility? Why should they care for their children when they're incapable of empathy?
    Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gayce, Richard Ramirez, Jeffry Dahmer, and Dennis Rader could not create a functioning community out of their reasoned self-interest: You need some good people to build a community on.
    I'm actually inclined to agree with this. My suspicion is that an Always Evil society would eat itself, and an Always Chaotic society would disintegrate.

    With that said, biology can play a significant role here- a species that produces dozens of offspring every year would not and could not invest the same degree of parental care and attachment as a species with lower rates of reproduction, and so might have a less developed instinct for reciprocal altruism. But it's possible those would have a harder time forming stable civilisations in the first place- it's hard to say.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    For much of history that was only a matter of circumstance. The majority of premodern societies were overwhelmingly some combination of racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, warlike, and/or religiously intolerant. Any lack of evil was a consequence of never running into the right/wrong person. And I don't mean just during the middle ages, and this includes the first-world countries most of you are reading from.
    Yeah yeah, fine, but all of these societies also regularly featured parents taking care of their young, stable friendships, keeping your word, and often some form of organised charity. I'm willing to say that doesn't work out as Always Evil (and many of the features of modern societies may be a luxury afforded by technological progress.)
    Give directly to the extreme poor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    (and many of the features of modern societies may be a luxury afforded by technological progress.)
    That's true. We today are sustained largely by technology where previous generations were sustained by the power of the dark side. That's why I don't like luddites or people who revere the past, they're essentially worshipping evil.

    EDIT:
    The time is coming soon when meat will no longer be consumed, and it won't be because of animal rights activists, fad diets, or religious asceticism - their contribution will be negligible - it will be because of the the chemists at Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-31 at 02:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Or, to give a more controversial example, have you ever actually read the code of Hammurabi? If he had lived in any other era he would not have been remembered as a just man. And similar things can be said for almost ancient founder or early leader of a country or a religion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    That's true. We today are sustained largely by technology where previous generations were sustained by the power of the dark side. That's why I don't like luddites or people who revere the past, they're essentially worshipping evil.
    Without disputing that ancient mesopotamian law-codes left something to be desired, I think traditional/luddite==evil is simplistic for a couple of reasons.

    * I'm not sure it's strictly evil to do what is necessary for your society to survive under harsh conditions (or virtuous to do what is presently easy and expedient.) (e.g, conservative gender roles in the context of high mortality rates.) It is also plausible to argue that humans have been living under certain kinds of traditional living arrangements for so long that we have essentially become biologically adapted to them, which has to be factored in when deciding how to optimise for subjective human well-being or fully harness human motivation (e.g, religiosity.)

    * Traditional practices can actually be functional for unstated reasons, even if traditionalists are usually really bad at articulating the underlying justification, which has lead to numerous examples of starry-eyed progressives, shall we say, throwing out the baby with the bath water. Chesterton's Fence and all that.

    * There are major questions about how sustainable our current social arrangements actually are on a timescale of decades-to-centuries. If you obviate this by saying modern societies are a passing phase on our launch ramp toward hyper-accelerated singularity-transhumanism then you run into a kind of existential quandary about whether a non-human existence can be said to benefit humanity.

    The time is coming soon when meat will no longer be consumed, and it won't be because of animal rights activists, fad diets, or religious asceticism - their contribution will be negligible - it will be because of the the chemists at Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
    Again, debatable.
    Give directly to the extreme poor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    That's kinda where my brain goes, and it may be consistent with the cosmology of D&D 5e, and perhaps other editions. Things arising 'ex nihilo' fits magical and metaphysical worlds just fine. Spontaneous generation also fits, as a model.
    The later parts of FC1 are much more explicit about it.


    page 45:

    "Simpering and feeble, the mane is the lowest of the low, a feeble tanar'ri formed directly from the soul of an evil creature sent to the abyss".

    page 105:

    "Certain creatures manage to thrive in the Abyss, relying upon a combination of toughness and guile to survive the rigors of the plane. Some are the corrupted souls of chaotic evil mortals, while others are spawned from the fabric of the Abyss itself. They have many names, but on the Material Plane they are known by one name: demons."

    Page 107:

    "The tanar'ri are by far the most numerous demonic race of the Abyss, their legions spilling into nearly every layer of the chaotic plane. They are the evolved souls of chaotic evil mortals, hatched from the reality of the plane itself at the moment of their natural deaths. Despite this origin, most tanar'ri cannot remember (or don't care to remember) their Material Plane origins, and believe themselves to be the superior race in the multiverse."



    IMO it's fairly consistent, for all tanar'ri specifically (as opposed to other, non-tanar'ri demons) to be "evolved CE mortal souls" - with anything "spawned from the fabric of the abyss itself" with no mortal soul involved, being a non-tanar'ri demon.
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    IIRC Fiendish Codex 1 states that Tanar'ri can be created either way, ex nihilo or from the souls of the dead

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    If we're saying a species is incapable of being good, we're saying that
    .
    Were not saying an always evil species is incapable of good I'm saying you can do a few good things and still be evil.
    A person who does 100 good things a day but eats a baby for the joy of it is evil. An always evil race does not need to be evil all the time and never do good all they need to do is inflict enough evil to render the good irrelevant and do so in a way that does not cripple their survivability either by inflicting it on outsiders or on those members of society that do not contribute to the success of the group.

    This orcs cant love their families is a bizarre straw man

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