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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Frosty's Avatar

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    Default Alignment and Intentions

    Supposedly, Alignment is completely objective in DnD. Good and Evil are concrete things. Acts have a certain value of goodness (which can be 0 for neutral or negative for evil) which is immutable regardless of what value system you or your church have.

    Does this sound right to everyone?

    I mean, it seems to me that intentions should alter how good an act is a lot of the time. Let's say you have a basically good person on the run from some hostiles. He needs to keep moving to stay ahead of his enemies. He finds someone else in need of help (for example...stuck in a ditch) and the person is asking for help.

    It'd take a mdoerate amount of effort and time to rescue the woman in the ditch. The man decides to leave the woman there and move on. Is that good? neutral? evil? Can you tell just based on someones actions? Or do you need more context?

    Context like...the man believes that if he stops to help the woman, the bad people will catch up. And, seeing her with him, will likely attack them both, therefore putting the woman in more danger than she already is in. Based on that rationale, he leaves her alone, possibly first tossing her some food and water.

    Of course, if the man was neutral instead of good in outlook, he just might not care. If the man was evil, then he'd just leave her there perhaps because he savors the though of her dying of dehydration.

    And hey, the man could be totally wrong. Perhaps the people that are chasing him aren't really bad people at all and won't harm him or the woman, but because he doesn't KNOW that, he decides to move on and not rescue the woman. In this situation, he could've achieved the a better outcome if he had helped. But he didn't, not because of evil moral outlook, but because he didn't know.

    In all these cases, the action is the same. The man leaves the woman without helping her. According to DnD rules, the net effect on his good/evil scale would be the same. But...that really makes no sense.

    So let me ask you all this: Should DnD take into account intent? Should it be possible for someone to go to the 9 hells after death...even if for his entire life, he thought he was doing good, but he wasn't just because his own value system differs than that of the "objective" universe?

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    ElfMonkGuy

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    Default Re: Alignment and Intentions

    I feel that the primary indicator of good/evil is intent.

    For instance, I play a Neutral Evil character. I want to obtain power, wealth, and so on... so I go adventuring, help everyone I see, throw criminals in jail, so-on-so-forth. The result? I become rich and powerful, which was the reason I was in it in the first place.

    And I could have done it as a bloodthirsty psychopath. I mean, it's not like you don't kill hundreds of things on the way to adventuring to higher levels. If I were a coward and sought out lower-CR encounters, I could concievably have killed thousands of sentient creatures (like goblins and orcs) in just a few levels.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Frosty's Avatar

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    Default Re: Alignment and Intentions

    I thinkt that intent should be a big part of it, but then, where does the whole "alignment is objective" part come in?

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    EvilElitest's Avatar

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    Default Re: Alignment and Intentions

    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty View Post
    Supposedly, Alignment is completely objective in DnD. Good and Evil are concrete things. Acts have a certain value of goodness (which can be 0 for neutral or negative for evil) which is immutable regardless of what value system you or your church have.

    Does this sound right to everyone?
    Here is the deal, and forgive me as my spell check is broken (can you get on working on this website? that would help) but in real life, morality is relative. Good and evil are ideas, not forces. However in D&D their are nine fudemental aligments that all actions fit into. In real life, my morals are vastly different from D&D's ideals of good vs. evil. However rememeber, everyone has good intentions. Almost nobody thinks they are evil, even in D&D, people able to have differing options think themselves as good, not evil most of the time. Aligment system is around because Good, Evil, Neutral, Law, and Chaos are fundemental forces in D&D, perticully when you have beings like Devils, Angles, and Demons alongside Blackguards and paladins. It mades the powers that be known and shows what effects those powers. It doesn't limits people's ideals. I think the biggest problem with the algiment system is that people can't seem to accept being evil. Evil isn't always bad (having the evil algment that is). If you live by a ends justifies the means ideal and commit evil deeds, you evil. does that somehow make you less of a human being than a good person? No, i just means you fall on a level on the algment scale and will go to hell when you die (ok, last part isn't always true but still). Actions, not intent define algment. somebody might torture an evil person for infomation. Even if the infomation is used for a good cause, the act of torture is cowarldy, seflish, apathetic, cruel, hateful, brutal and evil. thus the torturer becomes evil. However, he views what he does as right, and used that infomation for a good cause. He is still evil, but remember, good does not =right. good and evil are two different forces. Which one is right is up to you. You interpet what is right or wrong, not the powers of good or evil.

    I mean, it seems to me that intentions should alter how good an act is a lot of the time. Let's say you have a basically good person on the run from some hostiles. He needs to keep moving to stay ahead of his enemies. He finds someone else in need of help (for example...stuck in a ditch) and the person is asking for help.
    wow, i feel like this is similer to some other thread. Hmmmmmmmmmm

    It'd take a mdoerate amount of effort and time to rescue the woman in the ditch. The man decides to leave the woman there and move on. Is that good? neutral? evil? Can you tell just based on someones actions? Or do you need more context?
    well presuming that the guy in the ditch is in threat of death, it really depends on the details of the situation.

    Context like...the man believes that if he stops to help the woman, the bad people will catch up. And, seeing her with him, will likely attack them both, therefore putting the woman in more danger than she already is in. Based on that rationale, he leaves her alone, possibly first tossing her some food and water.
    that could work if she isn't in threat of death (for example, just stuck in a ditch). If she was in threat of death, a paladin might grab her (risking being shot) lift her over his shoulders and run like hell, and at first chance throw her in a bush to keep her out of harms way. Just one possibility

    Of course, if the man was neutral instead of good in outlook, he just might not care. If the man was evil, then he'd just leave her there perhaps because he savors the though of her dying of dehydration.
    A neutral man who has a very good reason not to waste time on the girl in the ditch would be commiting a neutral act in running past her, if he stops, he will most likely be attacked, good reason
    On the subject, intent in D&D only really matters for evil people. An evil man might save some children to boast his public apperence, still evil.

    And hey, the man could be totally wrong. Perhaps the people that are chasing him aren't really bad people at all and won't harm him or the woman, but because he doesn't KNOW that, he decides to move on and not rescue the woman. In this situation, he could've achieved the a better outcome if he had helped. But he didn't, not because of evil moral outlook, but because he didn't know.
    If a paladin commits an evil action because of lack of infomation, he is still good. For example, he gives a coin to a begger. It turns out that somehow trigures a plane into hell. the paladin didn't know that, so he commited no evil actions, as e lacked any knowlage

    In all these cases, the action is the same. The man leaves the woman without helping her. According to DnD rules, the net effect on his good/evil scale would be the same. But...that really makes no sense.
    Wait, the action of leaving her in the ditch or saving her?
    So let me ask you all this: Should DnD take into account intent? Should it be possible for someone to go to the 9 hells after death...even if for his entire life, he thought he was doing good, but he wasn't just because his own value system differs than that of the "objective" universe?
    better than than the alternative
    from
    EE

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Frosty's Avatar

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    Default Re: Alignment and Intentions

    The act of leaving her. In the case of the good verson the man. He is leaving her because he believes that will give her a better chance of survival.

    In the case of mr neutral man, he just wants to save his own ass and not slow down. He may feel a bit sorry for that, but he won't risk his butt to save a stranger like that.

    In the case of the mr. evil, he wants to see the woman suffer.

    Again, all three action are the same, but it is the intent that is different.

    See, there are many decisions that are clearly black and white and it is easy to tell what would be a Good decisio and what would be an Evil decision. We don't worry about those. We're worrying about everything else, when you can have three different moral outlooks all doing the same action, but for different reasons, and you're telling me that the alignment adjustment would be the same for all three? I.E, if this were a good act somehow, then mr. Evil's alignment would shift a bit towards good even he left her in the ditch because he wanted to see her suffer and die there? It makes NO sense.

    In a criminal justice system, there are separations on severities of crime based on intent. Premeditated, cold blooded murder is a more serious (i.e More Evil) offense than committing involuntary man-slaughter. both results in death, possibly in the exact same method (running someone over), but clearly one man is evil, but the other, at worse, is just negligent or ignorant (of how to drive).

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alignment and Intentions

    But physical movements are not inherently good or evil (unintelligent animals and skeletons do not change alignment based on their physical motions). Deliberate acts (considering your intentions and knowledge) can still be objectively good or evil.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Alignment and Intentions

    I imagine that there's some overlap. Certainly not every action can be justified by intent, but there's certainly a great deal of applicability.

  8. - Top - End - #8

    Default Re: Alignment and Intentions

    The short of the long is that actions define alignment in a long term general sense, but intentions define alignment in specific circumstances in which anyone would take the same action regardless of alignment.

    For example, Joe over the course of his life makes a habit of helping other unfortunates out of ditches just because it's the right thing to do. He also mostly refrains from commiting morally Evil acts. Ergo, Joe is Good by the time he dies.

    Bob on the other hand over the course of his life makes a habit of only helping other unfortunates out of ditches if they reward him afterward or if he can gain prestige or other personal benefit by doing so. Bob may or may not commit other morally Evil acts like killing babies, but that's irrelevant as he has already commited a large number of selfish acts over the course of his life. Ergo, Bob is Evil by the time he dies.

    So you see, in a long term and general sense it is actions that determine alignment. But now let's look at your special circumstance about a man running from an angry mob/soldiers/dragon/whatever.

    Joe runs by the ditch and hears the woman yell for help. He'd like to help her but just doesn't have the time to spare, so he yells back "sorry miss, I'd hide if I were you!" as he runs past. The morality of this particular action is probably Good/Neutral but debatable and in that large 'shades of gray' area, but it's irrelevant when put in perspective of Joe's many other Good acts during his life.

    Bob runs by the ditch and hears the woman yell for help. He figures that if his pursuers see her, saving/killing/eating her might give him a good lead on them so he yells back "My friends will arrive in a minute miss, just keep yelling." The morality of this particular action is probably evil but debatable and in that large 'shades of gray' area, but it's irrelevant when put in perspective of Bob's many other Evil acts during his life.

    So here you see that intent is also important to alignment, but not nearly so much as actions.

    TS

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