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Most Evil Companion

13

Comments

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 131
    edited April 25
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Maurvir "Of course, that is secondary the problem of defining "good" and "evil". It seems that in D&D evil is defined as self-serving while good is defined as serving others. A reasonable definition on the surface, but ultimately a very shallow one."

    Great post, I disagree here, though. "Selfish" versus "Selfless" is a fantastic breakdown of evil vs. good. You can break down just about any act of either to these two values.

    You are right, and I agree that it is a very good way of generalizing good vs evil, but I think you missed my larger point. It is rare to find the individual who is purely selfless, and assuming they aren't feral, purely selfish either. They may lean strongly in one direction or the other, but in D&D terms, it will always be from a point of neutrality. Also, it is possible to have good intentions but ultimately serve an evil purpose, and vice versa - but for this point, I think we will take the intentions as what matters.

    That does raise an interesting question, though. If, for example, you chose to save a child from a kidnapper in the game, how do the choices map to your alignment. I would assume that the good choice is fairly straightforward, but does ignoring the situation make you neutral or evil? What if you are only doing it for the reward? Depending on how you answer that, it is possible that the most selfish/evil intent produces an outcome more or less equal to the good intent.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 8,589
    Dorn
    @Maurvir Well, saving the kid on its own would never be an evil action. Doing it only for the reward strikes me as shifting your alignment towards lawful, but not affecting your existing good/evil bend.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 738
    your definition of evil that you quoted listed "harming, oppressing, and killing" as uniformly evil.
    You are making a logical mistake there.
    Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing
    A therefore B
    From this, you cannot conclude that from B follows A.
    In the context given, that is largely a superfluous point. Those that happily oppress or kill others are evil. After all, Good implies altruism and respect for life.
    But it is still a logical mistake, and your conclusion - that good people will not kill ever - is wrong.

    Chaotic Neutral means that you are not overly concerned with morals. Tempus is a God that symbolizes honorary battle, not wanton slaughter. He is certainly not about murder.

    "Those that will happily kill" skill describes people like Minsc, Ajantis, and Kivan.

    I'll repeat that "murder" is a pretty nebulously defined concept in The Realms, where any adventurer can go out and slay evil without needing to hold a trial or anything, and it's becoming clear that you're the one who keeps bringing us back to that, not the rules. The rules spoke only of killing, which war definitely entails.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 738
    Maurvir wrote: »
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Maurvir "Of course, that is secondary the problem of defining "good" and "evil". It seems that in D&D evil is defined as self-serving while good is defined as serving others. A reasonable definition on the surface, but ultimately a very shallow one."

    Great post, I disagree here, though. "Selfish" versus "Selfless" is a fantastic breakdown of evil vs. good. You can break down just about any act of either to these two values.

    You are right, and I agree that it is a very good way of generalizing good vs evil, but I think you missed my larger point. It is rare to find the individual who is purely selfless, and assuming they aren't feral, purely selfish either. They may lean strongly in one direction or the other, but in D&D terms, it will always be from a point of neutrality. Also, it is possible to have good intentions but ultimately serve an evil purpose, and vice versa - but for this point, I think we will take the intentions as what matters.

    That does raise an interesting question, though. If, for example, you chose to save a child from a kidnapper in the game, how do the choices map to your alignment. I would assume that the good choice is fairly straightforward, but does ignoring the situation make you neutral or evil? What if you are only doing it for the reward? Depending on how you answer that, it is possible that the most selfish/evil intent produces an outcome more or less equal to the good intent.

    The "Evil" campaign in BG1 largely entails saving the sword coast the same as the "Good" campaign, but asking for payment instead of simply doing it out of the goodness of your heart, and then accepting payment when they happen to offer.

    It's not until BG2 when your heritage from The Lord of Murder starts taking your story into some darker places.

    In terms of consequences, there can be very little difference between good and evil.

    megamike15
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 8,589
    edited April 25
    Dorn
    @Chronicler So, do you see no difference between killing in self-defense and murder? Or killing to protect someone else and murder? If all acts of killing are of equal morality, would letting that maurading band of Gnolls slaughter and burn a village be more moral than "murdering" the Gnolls to defend the village?

  • Humanoid_TaifunHumanoid_Taifun Member Posts: 963
    Chronicler wrote: »
    "Those that will happily kill" skill describes people like Minsc, Ajantis, and Kivan.
    And I would like to point out that I feel uncomfortable having Minsc in my party.
    I cannot remember enough of Ajantis and Kivan to make a judgement there.
    I will however say that there is a difference between being happy to have rid the world of an evil and being happy about the opportunity to kill somebody. Whether that applies to Ajantis and Kivan, I cannot say.
    I'll repeat that "murder" is a pretty nebulously defined concept in The Realms, where any adventurer can go out and slay evil without needing to hold a trial or anything, and it's becoming clear that you're the one who keeps bringing us back to that, not the rules. The rules spoke only of killing, which war definitely entails.
    Because murder as a word has a pretty good definition already. If we exclude the "unlawful" part (because, let's face it, the laws of the lands you travel through are almost never substantiated), that leaves 1) premeditated, 2) lacking justification and 3) demonstrating a lack of respect for [human] life.
    Why do I "keep bringing us back to that"? Quite simple. It is because it is the form of killing that is exclusively evil.
    Differently from what you claim, you cannot just walk around, cast Detect Evil and slay anything that pings red. Every character that has the [Innocent] class will give you a hefty penalty if you attack them, regardless of what their alignment is. And yes, there are evil innocents.
    That is the engine limitation, which is necessary in lack of a DM to stop you when you go crazy going around and murdering everyone.

    But I will give you a point (a big one in fact). The law being basically absent from the game, you do end up frequently as an unofficial judge, jury and executioner with no means to call for official law enforcement, and that does muddy the waters significantly in several ways. But again, this is no flaw of the alignment system itself. It is a flaw of the games' writing. Even ignoring your alignment you will often run into situations where the game offers you no acceptable choices. @Arvia recently had a thread about her troubles with a child murderer.



    Now, I need to make two things clear while I am going around arguing with you.
    Firstly I am not saying that good characters cannot do Evil. But overall, the scale should be decisively tilted towards Good. Otherwise they are not good characters.
    Secondly, I do not like the alignment system.

    Arvia
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 738
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/murder

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/murder

    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/murder

    None of the major definitions of Murder say anything about respect for life or justification or any of that stuff you're saying.

    Unlawful is the biggest recurring distinction between Murder and other forms of homicide. Not an issue in the realms, as you already brought up. We both seem to be in agreement there.

    Pre-meditation also pops up a lot, but even if you narrow "Murder" down to "Pre-Meditated Killings" then most characters in The Forgotten Realms are guilty of that, good and evil alike.

    Malice also pops up a bit, but I'd argue it's hard to kill without malice, short of an accident. That doesn't really narrow anything down here.

    So no, I don't accept that the game doesn't have to define murder because it already has such a good definition that applies so naturally to The Forgotten Realms setting.

    And again, I'll reiterate that the quote you listed didn't say anything about murder at all. Only killing.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 738
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Chronicler So, do you see no difference between killing in self-defense and murder? Or killing to protect someone else and murder? If all acts of killing are of equal morality, would letting that maurading band of Gnolls slaughter and burn a village be more moral than "murdering" the Gnolls to defend the village?

    1. The word "Murder" doesn't mean "Amoral Killing"
    2. You're projecting real life morality that simply wasn't present in the quoted definitions of "good" and "evil" as in the verifiable traits in The Realms the spells like Detect Evil test for.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 738
    But I will give you a point (a big one in fact). The law being basically absent from the game, you do end up frequently as an unofficial judge, jury and executioner with no means to call for official law enforcement, and that does muddy the waters significantly in several ways. But again, this is no flaw of the alignment system itself. It is a flaw of the games' writing. Even ignoring your alignment you will often run into situations where the game offers you no acceptable choices. @Arvia recently had a thread about her troubles with a child murderer.

    It's nothing specific to this game. Name a Forgotten Realms story ever where the adventurer waits around for law enforcement to take care of things. That's simply not how things work in The Realms. The laws around that sort of thing in The Realms are loose at best.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 8,589
    Dorn
    Chronicler wrote: »
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Chronicler So, do you see no difference between killing in self-defense and murder? Or killing to protect someone else and murder? If all acts of killing are of equal morality, would letting that maurading band of Gnolls slaughter and burn a village be more moral than "murdering" the Gnolls to defend the village?

    1. The word "Murder" doesn't mean "Amoral Killing"
    2. You're projecting real life morality that simply wasn't present in the quoted definitions of "good" and "evil" as in the verifiable traits in The Realms the spells like Detect Evil test for.

    So how would you answer the questions I posited?

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 131
    I find this thread fascinating because, as an amateur (and mostly unpublished) writer, I think about these sorts of things a lot. One of my projects is set in The Elder Scrolls universe, and almost every major character is morally ambiguous, even if that ambiguity isn't immediately apparent. I didn't even set out to write most of them that way, but I suppose my own view of morals and ethics crept in.

    In the very beginning, one of the protagonists is saved by the other, and she literally risks her own life to do so. She then takes on further risk of death by promising to see the woman she saved safely to the nearest town before the first major winter storm sets in despite being ill prepared for the travel. As a huntress, she knows the woman she saved won't be able to survive on her own in what is coming.

    Along the way, we discover that she literally wiped out her own village through what she perceived to be righteous vengeance. There is more to it than that, but she would be a chaotic good character in the D&D universe; yet her past is marred by death and destruction. At least she was remorseful about it, but I'm not sure that makes up for the forest full of bodies.

    Other characters likewise have lofty "good" goals, and yet they go about them in truly unfortunate, and I would dare say, evil ways. They aren't necessarily evil people, they just don't grasp that the means can't be ignored on the way to the ends.

  • Humanoid_TaifunHumanoid_Taifun Member Posts: 963
    @Chronicler I learned something about the meaning of murder. Thank you.
    Of course, that does not really weaken my point*. It just means I will have to put a bit more effort into articulating it. You again complain about my not talking simply about "killing", but I have already explained to you why that is. Killing in itself is not necessarily evil. So it would be useless to limit the discussion to that.

    When a good aligned character kills a bandit, they can be happy about having made Faerun a little safer, or about having survived the fight, or something in a similar vein. They are not supposed to experience glee over the actual experience of ending a life, and in fact they are supposed to feel some regret - because they respect all life.
    A lust for revenge is a common cliche for a character falling to the dark side, though it would take more than Kivan's actions for a DM to decide to have the ranger actually fall (or change alignment).

    You speak of premeditation and how many adventurers in the FR are guilty of it; I agree. To stick to Baldur's Gate, there is of course a difference between Edwin sending you to Rayic Gethras, and Brielbara sending you to Yago. But you should not treat the latter like an assassination quest if your character is of good alignment. I struggle with myself trying to decide if you could make a case of punishing a villain if you do decide to kill him. But that would at least mean that you take it with a different mindset from "go there, kill X, (collect Y,) come back for your reward".
    It does not help that killing redeemable wrongdoers usually gives you more XP than leaving them alive.

    *because, as you said, the descriptions of the alignments do not actually use the word murder.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 103
    Dorn
    Maurvir wrote: »
    You are right, and I agree that it is a very good way of generalizing good vs evil, but I think you missed my larger point. It is rare to find the individual who is purely selfless, and assuming they aren't feral, purely selfish either. They may lean strongly in one direction or the other, but in D&D terms, it will always be from a point of neutrality. Also, it is possible to have good intentions but ultimately serve an evil purpose, and vice versa - but for this point, I think we will take the intentions as what matters.

    That does raise an interesting question, though. If, for example, you chose to save a child from a kidnapper in the game, how do the choices map to your alignment. I would assume that the good choice is fairly straightforward, but does ignoring the situation make you neutral or evil? What if you are only doing it for the reward? Depending on how you answer that, it is possible that the most selfish/evil intent produces an outcome more or less equal to the good intent.

    The D&D system as it stands leans strongly towards objective morality. That is, certain acts are always "Good" and certain acts are always "Evil". As examples, showing mercy to defeated foes is considered Good, even if the foe was, say, a child murderer like Neb, while animating the undead is considered Evil, even if one then uses the undead to then defend a village from marauding orcs.

    However, as we live in a world where morality is more subjective than not, we typically have to consider motivations and justifications when it comes to determining the alignment of mortals. It is worth noting that the D&D system (as explored in considerable detail in the 3E handbook "Book of Exalted Deeds") considers the killing of another sentient creature, even if justified, to NEVER be a Good act. Perhaps the best way to explain it is to imagine the Upper Planes as sources of "positive" emotions such as charity, kindness, mercy and forgiveness. No matter how justified the slaying of an evil creature to stop it from committing more evil acts, the action of killing cannot involve emotions that stem from the Planes of Good, and more likely than not, draw from darker emotions from the Lower Planes of anger, hatred, wrath and vengeance. Thus, even the most righteous paladin must guard his heart and soul as he defends the innocent from orcs or drow or dragons, because there may very well come a point where he starts to ENJOY the slaughter of other creatures, even evil ones, and that moment is when he falls away from Good and becomes Neutral.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 8,589
    Dorn
    Chronicler wrote: »
    I just did.

    No you didn't.

  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 423
    edited April 26
    I'm not sure why selfless vs selfish is a shallow generalization for good vs evil, because IMO that basically what good vs evil amounts to. It's just that when discussing these concepts from such a viewpoint the words tend to take a different meaning (or fracture into different components, like white light becoming different colors).

    It's kind of like how people like to say "science" to try to explain things instead of just stating what we actually know about the topic in question, which is ridiculous because humans don't (and will never actually) "get" science.
    I mean, that's kind of the point why it's called science - for us humans what we call "science" is the journey of knowing how things work and what we know changes all the time. People who say science to mean something along the lines of "the way things actually work" are trying to use a word that's waaayyyyyyy out of our league to define. We can only ever look at the colors (and in this case only one color), we have pretty much zero concept of what the white light version of science is.

    In the case of selfless vs selfish, when you use the word "selfless" to describe someone like, say, Ammon Jerro from Neverwinter Nights 2 then the word takes on a more complicated meaning. Ammon Jerro ignored the suffering of other people for the sake of serving his own ends (selfish), even if his intent was completely selfless (to defeat a great evil). In doing so he jumpstarted started a series of events that would have a potential catastrophic effect on the realms (ie, Mask of the Betrayer).
    The word fractures, and you get components like selflessness in the now versus the future (time aspect), selflessness in terms of act vs intent (limitations aspect), selflessness in terms of how far you're willing to go (real vs fact, what you know could happen vs what has actually happened aspect aka the reality aspect), etc.
    And then you're suppose to condense all of that back into the white light version of selfless BUT you're only halfway done - now do the selfish part.

    It's definitely not simple to do (or at least, not for many of the more interesting gaming characters) and it's a far more relatable and realistic way to think of the whole good vs evil thing I'd say.

    ThacoBellgorgonzola
  • karnor00karnor00 Member Posts: 672
    Dorn
    I’ve always viewed alignment as being based on intention rather than just actions.

    I think that Ajantis killing bandits to protect villagers can be a good action.

    Whereas Korgan killing those same bandits just to steal their loot would be evil (neutral at best).

    Same actions but different intention. And good intentions can certainly lead to bad results. Similarly evil actions can result in good being done.

    Also I think we need to be careful not to judge actions based on modern day standards. Today the approach of dealing with crime is to arrest people and determine their guilt via a trial.

    But in the Baldurs Gate world there is often no clear authority to turn to. In a world of small independent city states (eg Baldurs Gate vs Amn) if someone finds a group of bandits stealing from a village there may be no clear authority to turn them in to. Killing the bandits may be the only realistic approach.

    gorgonzolaThacoBell
  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 131
    Personally, while I know it would totally violate the AD&D rules, I would prefer to see a system where you don't declare your alignment at the beginning, and instead let your actions define your alignment. However, such a system would be time based, so older good/evil actions would "roll off" as you go along. I know, the idea of declaring up front is to let other players know how you intend to RP a character, but even in PnP games I think it would be useful to let actions move the needle a bit.

    Ideally, everyone would start out as a true neutral, with shifts based on the preponderance of decisions. After all, certain NPCs can have alignment changes based on actions, why not the PC?

    That is a pretty massive digression, though.

  • NihilusNihilus Member Posts: 190
    Dorn
    Dorn. In my opinion, he is not only more evil than any other companion, but also more so than any of the end-game villains in the saga with the exception of Belhifet. He is so over-the-top I don't think he is well written; the evil companions in the original games are much more textured.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 103
    Dorn
    Maurvir wrote: »
    Personally, while I know it would totally violate the AD&D rules, I would prefer to see a system where you don't declare your alignment at the beginning, and instead let your actions define your alignment. However, such a system would be time based, so older good/evil actions would "roll off" as you go along. I know, the idea of declaring up front is to let other players know how you intend to RP a character, but even in PnP games I think it would be useful to let actions move the needle a bit.

    Ideally, everyone would start out as a true neutral, with shifts based on the preponderance of decisions. After all, certain NPCs can have alignment changes based on actions, why not the PC?

    That is a pretty massive digression, though.

    Have you ever played Planescape: Torment? That's the only Infinity Engine game I know of where your alignment can shift (sometimes radically so) across the events of the game. (If I had a complaint about it though, it's that it's very, VERY hard to become/stay Lawful in that game, due to the general dearth of opportunities.)

  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,466
    Dorn
    not really. i have had runs where i got to lg eventually after having been ng the whole game.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 103
    Dorn
    Hmm... Any tips on big shifts towards Lawful then? In general I found that I had to pick the [Vow] options whenever they appeared, but it seemed like any slight opportunity to joke or goof around shifted me towards Chaos. (In particular, I remember that playing with the Modron Hero figurine and pranking Morte with it gave me HUGE Chaos points, despite my thinking that this seemed more like friends joking around with each other.)

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 131
    Zaxares wrote: »
    Maurvir wrote: »
    Personally, while I know it would totally violate the AD&D rules, I would prefer to see a system where you don't declare your alignment at the beginning, and instead let your actions define your alignment. However, such a system would be time based, so older good/evil actions would "roll off" as you go along. I know, the idea of declaring up front is to let other players know how you intend to RP a character, but even in PnP games I think it would be useful to let actions move the needle a bit.

    Ideally, everyone would start out as a true neutral, with shifts based on the preponderance of decisions. After all, certain NPCs can have alignment changes based on actions, why not the PC?

    That is a pretty massive digression, though.

    Have you ever played Planescape: Torment? That's the only Infinity Engine game I know of where your alignment can shift (sometimes radically so) across the events of the game. (If I had a complaint about it though, it's that it's very, VERY hard to become/stay Lawful in that game, due to the general dearth of opportunities.)

    I haven't, but now I find myself intrigued enough to try it.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 103
    Dorn
    Maurvir wrote: »
    I haven't, but now I find myself intrigued enough to try it.

    You MUST try it. Planescape: Torment is perhaps THE best story-driven RPG that I have ever played, even surpassing BG2. It's the only game in my entire life that kept me playing all through the night until the first rays of dawn through the window made me go "Holy... It's morning already?!"

    gorgonzola
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 8,589
    Dorn
    @Maurvir Torment is absolutely worth looking at. But be aware its not for everybody, so temper your expectations. I'm not a fan of it personally, but I don't think its poorly done. It just consistently fails to "click" with me.

    EnialusMeliamnemegamike15
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,701
    Dorn
    For the record, Amn is wsy more than a city state during SoA, its one of the biggest powers in the world. Baldur's Gate though is closer to a city-state, with several other small cities/villages under its auspices, so arguably its also beyond that. Iirc, the Fist were involved in Maztica, so that must be a large force.

    Intentions matter to humans, but at least in most core DnD settings actual actions are what dictate alignment. In SoD for example, its evil to poison the Crusaders, even though its good to stop them, and similarly, its evil to murder via device the prisoners in the temple of Cyric.

    Note, there is a clear exception made for killing those engaged in large scale or significant evil acts, but this doesn't mean you can kill the local merchant who's a bit of a crook. This does mean though that its generally acceptable to kill any examples of organized evil species, ie kobolds, goblins, orcs, evil dragons, drow, etc, because in the overwhelming number of cases they are, in fact evil, and will be a threat to those around them eventually.

    Eberron did a decent job of making this more complicated, with very few evil cultures compared to other settings.

    gorgonzola
  • Humanoid_TaifunHumanoid_Taifun Member Posts: 963
    I think we should draw a line between DnD settings and SoD scripting.
    Poisoning the Crusaders via quest is evil according to SoD. Using the Dagger of Venom is not.
    Activating the quest trap is evil according to SoD. Luring an enemy into a trap set by your party thief (at your orders) is not.

    gorgonzola
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,701
    Dorn
    I think I can see a big difference between stabbing someone with a magic knife that doses them with a poison vs indiscriminately poisoning a food and water supply, and find it a bit disquieting that someone doesn't. YMMV I suppose.

    ThacoBell
  • recklessheartrecklessheart Member Posts: 691
    Edwin
    Dorn, palpably so.

    I'd rather give the vote to Edwin, however, as I think he more accurately represents a humanised version of Evil. Dorn is unsustainably, unintelligently Evil - which works in some D&D settings, I guess. Edwin is Evil in a way that is thoroughly real within his own world, and real in ours.

    gorgonzola
  • Humanoid_TaifunHumanoid_Taifun Member Posts: 963
    edited May 1
    @DreadKhan Dragonspear Castle has no citizenry. The only people you can find in that castle are Crusaders, your enemies.

    Baldur's Gate provides us with a strange reality where we can tell non-combatants immediately just by the color of the rings at their feet.
    If it were not for that though, "indiscriminate" attacks would be absolutely the norm for 99% of all in-game battles.
    Real warfare is even more indiscriminate. This goes in particular for siege warfare, when you are forced to lob your attacks over the enemy's defensive structures, and individuals have an even harder time surrendering or escaping. So just supporting the military action against the crusade can be considered an evil act, according to you.

    Edit: War is evil. Being forced to choose to kill before the "enemy" gets the chance to do the same to me is evil.
    It is strange trying to justify these actions. But I do not see poison as standing out in this context. It is just one of the many evil aspects of the larger mess of war.

    DreadKhan
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