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Lawful Good Character and the Neverwinter Zoo

BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 4,748
edited June 6 in Official Campaigns
Hello, so, I just rescued all the animals at the Neverwinter Zoo, as a lawful good wizard.

This quest is a real conundrum for a lawful good character. I try to be lawful good in real life, as well as in the game. But I cannot stand animal cruelty. I certainly don't like poachers, either. I sometimes justify doing the quest by telling myself that I'm breaking up an unlawful poaching operation. Yet Nyatar tells you that the Blacklake nobles are turning a blind eye and allowing the zoo to exist. Does that make the zoo legal?

I wish you could get a ruling from Lord Nasher about it.

It seems like a lawful good character would want to work to change whatever law is allowing zoos with cruel conditions, or organize protests, or whatever, rather than attacking the zoo and murdering dozens of (innocent?) men. They do attack to kill on sight, though, once you're in the restricted area. But you are trespassing, which gives them the right, even in real life.

I have a similar problem with that woman in the town square trying to incite a riot, who asks you to murder Meldanen. I won't kill him, even though he's guilty of kidnapping a dryad and stealing a cure reagent. He attacks you on sight, and also has demonic imps around his estate, which makes him look pretty darn evil, but you're trespassing unlawfully on his property, so he has a right to attack you, and, you can't kill somebody just for being evil in the FR setting. Well, you can, but it's not a lawful good thing to do.

As soon as he sees you're stronger, he stops attacking and begs for his life. Killing a man begging for his life is an evil act in my book.

Lawful good alignment is really hard to play if you do it right, because game scenarios and also real life often put the "lawful" in conflict with the "good".

Opinions?

GreenWarlockSkatan

Comments

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 4,748
    edited June 6
    Hi, so I just "invaded" the Meldanen estate and freed the dryad he kidnapped. He claimed he only intended to figure out a cure and sell it before she charmed him. I spared his life of course, and I did not loot his estate. I didn't steal a single thing the entire time I was in there.

    In a real D&D game, I think I should have gotten both lawful and good points for that resolution, but the NWN OC doesn't support those kinds of subtleties.

    I got a really good feeling that I had been true to my alignment, though. That's how D&D should be, I think.

    Oh, and he even says to go ahead and tell Formosa to take the dang food he stockpiled in his warehouse to give to the people.

    GreenWarlockSkatanMirandel
  • MermutMermut Member Posts: 38
    Lawful good characters don't have to support unjust laws.
    Also, if somebody is 'turning a blind eye' to something, that doesn't make it 'legal'. It actually implies that it is ILLEGAL and, for whatever reason, people are ignoring it.

    DerpCityStummvonBordwehrShapiroKeatsDarkMage
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 4,748
    edited June 8
    Mermut said:

    Lawful good characters don't have to support unjust laws.
    Also, if somebody is 'turning a blind eye' to something, that doesn't make it 'legal'. It actually implies that it is ILLEGAL and, for whatever reason, people are ignoring it.

    The trouble is deciding how far to go when applying "justice" to animals over humans. For a druid, it's a total no-brainer, but it's a lot trickier for a paladin or another lawful good character who supports paladin values.

    Similar situations arise frequently in real life. I support animal rights, but I don't go as far with it as PETA or Greenpeace, and I do eat meat and use animal products. I would wish that we treated our food animals and zoo animals better, but I don't feel like there's a lot I can personally do about it.

    In the Neverwinter Zoo situation, you actually have to attack the zoo and kill about two dozen people. If that were done by a group like PETA in real life, the perpetrators would be arrested, shot if they resisted, and charged with mass first degree murder. I'd say 95 to 98 percent of society would be on the side of law enforcement in such a case.

    I know it's just a game and I'm overthinking it way beyond developer intentions, but I enjoy discussing these topics and using my fantasy games to self-express my ethics and personality into whatever fantasy world I'm playing with.

    DerpCity
  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 6,888
    At least in the Meldanen case you can look at things this way: By kidnapping the dryad and Samuel the city guard he has well and truly broken the law of the city. You have every right to enforce the law by storming his estate and at the very least rescuing those two.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 4,748
    Tresset said:

    At least in the Meldanen case you can look at things this way: By kidnapping the dryad and Samuel the city guard he has well and truly broken the law of the city. You have every right to enforce the law by storming his estate and at the very least rescuing those two.

    Of course. And I can refuse to steal everything not nailed down in his estate, and I can free the guard, and I can see that Meldanen is not in his right mind because of the dryad's spell. I won't murder a man who is standing there begging for his life, and it is not for me to sentence a subdued criminal to death. (I wish the game had options to subdue, arrest, and turn in criminals. You would be able to do so in pen and paper. The only reason it doesn't is because of the game engine complications an arrest option would present.)

    I only kill in self-defense. All any person or creature has to do to not die by my hand is to stop attacking me, especially when it becomes obvious I am stronger. D&D rarely supports that kind of morality very well, though, even in pen and paper.

    My solution to to Meldanen scenario is always to enter through Milly's portal, find and release Samuel, and then head straight for Meldanen. I have to kill at least one of his apprentices, and several guards and guard dogs, because they fight to the death and refuse to surrender. I steal nothing.

    Meldanen gets to live if he yields quickly enough, and I can call off my companion and any summons in time. I do not ask him to extract his own tooth so I can lie to Formosa and say I killed him (gross, that's horrible). As it turns out he gives you his warehouse key anyway before he teleports out. I choose to see that as a change of heart. He finds my mercy "unexpected". I free the dryad and take her lock of hair (her plague cure component) as she requests.

    It's about as satisfying a lawful good or neutral good solution to the scenario as the game engine allows.

  • fluke13fluke13 Member Posts: 315
    More generally, there's a lot of discussion about what Lawful good really means. A lot of people say lawful good can often get into confusion, with law and good conflicting... but I disagree with that. I think all the alignments are such that any person who belongs to them, does so confidently, without confusing. To me, if there's confusion, then maybe the person is actually neutral good.

    I personally think a lawful good character would always take this approach:

    1. Is the written law involved actually legal itself...i.e. was it created fairly and systemically, or was it imposed using corruption, dictatatorship. A lawful good character wouldn't venture into foreign lands and say, "ok, slavery is legal here, so it's ok"...they would use the law in the general stance of justice, organisation, protection, control.

    2. Once 1 is established, the lawful good (LG) character would then look at the situation, applying their moral compass of good, as much as possible, without breaking the code of what is lawful.

    A few examples... I think LG would uphold a petty law like littering, because they strongly believe in the system working as a whole. The LG wouldn't help an innocent person escape jail... so long as the trial was fair and the arrest was made on all available evidence and probability, then arresting a few innocent people is a necessary part of the legal process, which involves probability.

    Therefore, if the animal cruelty was written laws passed through corruption, then like slavery, the LG would ignore the "law", using the universal principal of LAW. i.e. what really separates lawful good and chaotic good is control vs freedom.

    BelgarathMTHDJKajuruSkatan
  • neludzneludz Member Posts: 9
    Yes, absolutely. Killing DOZENS of people to free a few animals seems very lawful and good.
    Can do it under invis though.

  • CerabelusCerabelus Member Posts: 95
    I personally feel alignment is flexible depending on each persons likes and dislikes, in real life I don't like Zoo's and I think there should only be a animal sanctuary or reserve for endangered or injured animals and shouldn't be long term.

    When I rescued the animals I saw the guards as possibly mistreating them and if they tried to stop me well you had your chance to do the right thing.

    When it comes to rescuing a Dryad well they're creatures of the forest and if kept from it and their tree they wither away so it's cruel to keep them and if the Dryad charms the kidnapper I imagine she intended for him to release her not get so infatuated that he never lets here go.

    When invading Meldanen's estate he's been clamping down on the district and hording food and grain during a city wide crisis so as far as I'm concerned he gets what's coming to him...and if I get to "confiscate" his stuff to fund my mission to end the crisis well he shouldn't have been a total prick to the district.

    I guess that makes my approach neutral good with chaotic elements.

  • SkatanSkatan Member Posts: 3,533
    If there's a detect alignment spell for your wizard you could kill anyone pinging evil even if it's you that are trespassing. It's just the way that Good works. I'm no expert on alignments, but I think that in some situations you can apply both axis' of your alignment but sometimes you can only abide by one. Trespassing = not lawful, but killing evil = act of Good. A LG character can therefore choose the least chaotic action and the most good action and stay true to their alignment when both cannot be done at the same time. At least that's how I think, though I tend to gravitate towards NG, so that gives my characters more flexibility of course.

    In your case I think your reasoning is solid and that your character indeed did act according to their alignment LG.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 4,748
    @Cerabelus , Your character description strikes me as clearly Chaotic Good.

    @Skatan , I don't think good characters are allowed to rob and murder people just for pinging evil through a spell. There was a paladin character in "Order of the Stick" (Miyo Miyazaki) who did that and wound up falling, so if you take Rich Burlew as an expert on D&D alignment interpretation, there's a good precedent and example of what happens when a good character, especially a lawful good character, uses detection spells to "take the law into their own hands" and starts committing murder in the name of some kind of vigilante justice.
    http://oots.wikia.com/wiki/Miko_Miyazaki

    Mirandel
  • SkatanSkatan Member Posts: 3,533
    Hehe, these discussion seldom reach any compromise, but nonetheless I think (after reading countless posts about it) that Order of the stick might be one interpretation, but Keldorn attacking Viccy for being an evil drow could just as well be used to counter-argue that I guess. I used to think of LG based on real world insticts, but the many posts about how the alignments are not relative, but absolute, has made me re-think it a bit.

    Personally I think that Paladins should be LN as standard rather than LG since they would follow their creed no matter. A cleric walking about, doing no harm and helping/healing ppl in need I think could better represent a LG character rather than the militant order of paladins. But that's my human, real world standards affecting me and that's not how D&D works. So I stopped seeing it like that and base my views of how they are portraid in-game. I guess you can still lose rep if you kill Evil characters (the thief outside Thalantyr, I don't know if he is Evil alignment, but you get minus rep if you kill him no matter) but that's rare, I think.

    But this doesn't really help you in anyways, rather I am derailing, so I will stop here and let others pitch in. I hope I didn't mess with your views.

    DerpCityBelgarathMTH
  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 1,720
    Skatan said:


    Personally I think that Paladins should be LN as standard rather than LG since they would follow their creed no matter.

    You forget that the very thing that differentiates Paladins is that their creed is Good.

  • fluke13fluke13 Member Posts: 315
    The whole detect evil -> attack evil: is the whole premise behind Ajantis and his downfall.

    In real life: "killing evil = good" is the mindset of a terrorist.

    BelgarathMTHSkatanShia_Luck
  • CerabelusCerabelus Member Posts: 95
    edited September 16

    As soon as he sees you're stronger, he stops attacking and begs for his life. Killing a man begging for his life is an evil act in my book.

    Lawful good alignment is really hard to play if you do it right, because game scenarios and also real life often put the "lawful" in conflict with the "good".

    Yeah killing him after he surrenders is definitely not LG and even a NG & CG shouldn't be executing subdued enemies just because they may be a threat again down the line.

    I'm imaging a scenario where the party has been investigating a series of incidents all leading back to a corrupt city official and while confronting him he laughs at you and throws your evidence in your face and says you don't have enough and by Law you can't touch me.

    The LG person would likely walk away and have to wait for more evidence.

    The NG would likely consider their options before deciding.

    The CG would likely try to arrest.

    I imagine myself still considering options and possible blow back before taking him in or stopping him but yeah i'd feel compelled to act to try and prevent further incidents.

    Thinking back to my previous characters on NWN & NWN2 i remember being Neutral for a time but sometimes by the end i became chaotic after certain bigger actions.

    BelgarathMTHfluke13
  • SkatanSkatan Member Posts: 3,533
    scriver said:

    Skatan said:


    Personally I think that Paladins should be LN as standard rather than LG since they would follow their creed no matter.

    You forget that the very thing that differentiates Paladins is that their creed is Good.
    I didn't forget, I just don't agree. But then again, I am talking only about the paladins in the games I've encountered and not paladins as a PnP class. LN is described in one of the games (forgot which) as a soldier following orders to the letter. You don't make individual judgement calls based on the situation or the context, you just act as per your instructions. Those instructions can very well be good and thus the action in itself can be LG, but they can equally often be something else and then it feels to me as more LN. But I know I am fairly alone thinking this and I don't try to push this, but nonetheless it's what I feel is more correct. It's like @fluke13 says above, seeing evil and killing evil isn't always good, hence my idea on the Neutral alignment.

    fluke13
  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 1,720
    That's like saying Druids don't care about nature because game developers have strange ideas about what "caring about nature" means, to me

  • SkatanSkatan Member Posts: 3,533
    Well not really, IMHO. It's more akin to the discussions some have had that Jaheira can be considered NG rather than NN because her actions and motivations seem to be driver more by a strive for Good than for Neutral, same as I mean when I say that the actions for paladins in the games is often driven not for Good, but rather for following instructions etc. It's not a perfect comparison though.

  • MirandelMirandel Member Posts: 459
    Skatan said:

    Hehe, these discussion seldom reach any compromise, but nonetheless I think (after reading countless posts about it) that Order of the stick might be one interpretation, but Keldorn attacking Viccy for being an evil drow could just as well be used to counter-argue that I guess. I used to think of LG based on real world insticts, but the many posts about how the alignments are not relative, but absolute, has made me re-think it a bit.

    Just to be fair - Keldorn attacks Viccy not for being evil (Korgan is evil too, but Keldorn is fine with his presence), but because Viccy is evil drow. And he saw enough of horrible deeds from drows to suspect that if one of this monsters now is in the group and obviously remained evil - it's for one purpose - to find the way to horribly kill everyone around. Besides, it does not look like drows are allowed to freely navigate Athkatla, well can be it's prohibited by the law as well.

    Skatan
  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 295
    edited September 18
    I agree with the OP (even though he may have changed his mind) that the zoo quest presents issues for a lawful good character.

    You enter the zoo building by promising to behave, a promise which if untrue would be a dishonorable act. Then you break into an area you're explicitly told would be considered trespassing in order to free animals you don't own, because of one druid's unverified claim that the animals were poached. Most players go on to optionally attack and then kill all the guards as well as "Sureshot," for a crime that surely doesn't include the death penalty as a legal punishment.

    I understand wanting to complete as many quests as possible but can't see how a lawful good character in particular could reasonably do this one.

    BelgarathMTH
  • CerabelusCerabelus Member Posts: 95
    Ideally there should be options to complete this quest & others in different ways perhaps rallying people to pressure officials to act or convince the Church you serve to pressure them to sell the Zoo to someone sympathetic to your cause and to keep things exciting have some people making money of the Zoo send thugs to threaten you and try killing you before the end.

    This could work for many side quests having more opportunities for different outcomes.

    BelgarathMTH
  • MeandreMeandre Member Posts: 20
    edited September 27
    Like Skatan wrote, discussions about D&D alignment interpretation seldom come to an agreement... :mrgreen:

    With that said, I'd just like to add that "lawful" can, but does not necessarily mean "strictly following the law dictated by the ruling class". It can also mean "adhering to a set of rules" - like actinh only within the limits of a code of honor that the character set for themselves. Or one dictated to them by an organization that they belong to (an order, cult, etc...).

    Given that laws will inevitably vary between groups, organizations or political systems, a Lawful Good character simply cannot always abide by ALL the laws dictated to them by someone else (i.e. the laws of a kingdom). The aforementioned kingdom where slavery is perfectly legal would be such a case.


    As such, I can see a Lawful Good character that has sworn a strict oath to always fight for the freedom of others to not get into any moral struggle by freeing the animals at the zoo and thus sticking to their principles.
    Of course, if your characters sees being Lawful Good as always upholding the laws set by the good government...that would put them into a quandary for sure. :wink: )

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 295
    If a character who always fights for the core chaotic principle of freedom can be called lawful, then it's hard to see how many people could stay chaotic for long. But you're surely correct that the tension between tradition, societal laws, and general orderliness can muddy the waters for a lawful character.

  • MirandelMirandel Member Posts: 459
    Meandre said:

    Like Skatan wrote, discussions about D&D alignment interpretation seldom come to an agreement... :mrgreen:

    With that said, I'd just like to add that "lawful" can, but does not necessarily mean "strictly following the law dictated by the ruling class". It can also mean "adhering to a set of rules" - like actinh only within the limits of a code of honor that the character set for themselves. Or one dictated to them by an organization that they belong to (an order, cult, etc...).

    Given that laws will inevitably vary between groups, organizations or political systems, a Lawful Good character simply cannot always abide by ALL the laws dictated to them by someone else (i.e. the laws of a kingdom). The aforementioned kingdom where slavery is perfectly legal would be such a case.


    As such, I can see a Lawful Good character that has sworn a strict oath to always fight for the freedom of others to not get into any moral struggle by freeing the animals at the zoo and thus sticking to their principles.
    Of course, if your characters sees being Lawful Good as always upholding the laws set by the good government...that would put them into a quandary for sure. :wink: )

    Interesting opinion. I always thought that "the law" is written rules for specific country - like Constitution or (in case of monarchy) rules publicly declared by the ruler. If some organization has personal rules contradicting laws of the country that organization operates in, the organization is actually fighting against the law and has problems with the country.

    Personal "code of honor" is just that - personal principles, not the law.

  • Shia_LuckShia_Luck Member Posts: 9
    Remember, Lawful, and 'the law' are two very different things. Despite OC and some modules giving you chaos points for breaking the law, they are not connected. A lawful restriction implies a strict adherence to a code of some sort. The paladin's code is nothing to do with the law as decided by some mortal, it is their God's law they follow. Whether they can park their horse here is totally irrelevant when following God's commandments, no?

    A monk is not a good law abiding ciitizen necessarily. They can be evil, they can be whatever, so long as they follow the pursuit of excellence in mind and body. Hours spent repeating slow katas. Hours spent meditating. This is what lawful means here. A strict adherence to a program. Never wavering from it.

    IRL, a Buddhist or vegan is mostly lawful. A strict code of causing no harm to those able to feel pain. Likewise, if there were someone who only ate meat as a philosophy, they would be being lawful too. Someone who believes fervently in a religion, and practises what it preaches (important point there), is also being lawful, irrelevant of whether that religion or that person does good or harm. A person who sticks by their diet, their new years resolution, their marriage vows, etc... they are being lawful, irrelevant of the good or evil of things and irrelevant of the context or society they live in!

    Lawful is adhering to the major philosophical choices you have made in your life. Chaotic is changing them on a whim.

    Have fun :)

    DerpCityscriverBelgarathMTH
  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 1,720
    I agree with everything except the second to last sentence.

    Chaotic is not random.

    DerpCity
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 4,748
    edited November 5
    I think of "lawful" alignment as meaning the belief that the most benefit is done for the most people when rules are agreed upon by a society and its institutions and followed. "Lawful" people also tend to have very ordered minds and behaviors, follow routines, agree to contracts and codes of behavior, tend to be predictable and reliable, and believe in telling the truth. They are conscientious and care how their behavior affects their society as a whole and their personal alliances, orders, groups, and families. At their worst, they can be rigid, closed-minded, inflexible, humorless, and stubborn.

    "Chaotic" people are strongly individualistic and independent. They make up their own minds and don't like to be ordered, bossed, or told what to do. They tend to be rebellious, sometimes breaking rules just for the sake of proving that they can, or to "stick it" to authority. They are okay going back on their word, changing their minds at will, breaking contracts, spinning the truth, or outright lying at will. They value freedom of choice more than anything else. But as long as no one or nothing is trying to restrict their freedom, they can form solid relationships with family and friends. At their worst, they can be unreliable, undependable, and unwilling to commit.

    The topic was originally meant to specifically discuss the Neverwinter Zoo scenario. I don't think a lawful person would attack the zoo and kill all those zookeepers (poachers?), despite possibly being very upset with the animal cruelty there. A lawful person would find a solution other than murder to help the animals.

    A chaotic person would likely have no problem attacking the zoo with violence, depending on whether they thought they could get away with it, how much they cared about the animals, or how much treasure they thought they could loot.

    What do you think?

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 295
    Yes, there are an array of things listed in the alignment writeup that the game considers to be logically linked including valuing order, acting with honor, following tradition, respecting legal authorities even when disagreeing with their decisions, telling the truth, and sticking to a code of conduct even when other actions seems preferable. The punchline is doing what external authorities expect rather than what your conscience dictates.

    Where people often go wrong is to say, let's give people the freedom to accept or reject sources of authority as they see fit and then call them lawful if they can find a belief system whose tenets they're willing to follow, like asceticism or veganism. By that definition even someone who adopted the chaos writeup in the Player's Handbook as their code of conduct would be lawful, which makes about as much sense as calling Lolth's followers (who after all have a very rigid code) lawful.

    Getting back to the zoo example, you are clearly right that a lawful person wouldn't take it upon himself to ambush and kill zookeepers on the word of one source who claimed without evidence the animals had been poached. Even if the poaching charge were true, which is never proven, it's highly unlikely death is the legally prescribed penalty for that crime. And even if death somehow were the legal penalty, by what right would the player character bypass any notion of a trial and carry out that punishment? A chaotic character who loved animals and had evidence of the zookeepers' culpability might potentially do something like that, but a lawful character? No way.

    BelgarathMTH
  • Shia_LuckShia_Luck Member Posts: 9
    scriver said:

    I agree with everything except the second to last sentence.

    Chaotic is not random.

    Apologies for such late reply.

    I agree. "Whim" was entirely the wrong word to use. What I should have said is that chaotic people can change their mind about which option to follow (of the available choices they have), even after having commited to one. A lawful person is much more likely to keep to their word having commited.

    @BelgarathMTH I liked your descriptions.

    Have fun :)

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