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Is it heresy to take Edwin in a good-aligned party?

A while ago I asked everyone what they thought about taking Viconia in a good party. Now, I'm wondering what you think about Edwin. How evil is he? Aside from his heinous mission in BG1 - which has always struck me as extremely evil - he has always seemed more like comic relief to me. Evil, yes, but not on the level of, say Dorn. So what do you think? Can you justify bringing him along?

Arvia
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  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 920
    If you are not a paladin, there is no problem with him. Yes he is evil, but not a fundamental relogious one like Dorn, rather than a pragmatic sociopath. To justify, imagine your best friend is taken, you are in a strange city and need the best of best to survive, and he looks like powerful. So you need him in your group.
    KatzerchenOrlonKronsteenVicissitude
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,460
    edited October 2021
    I feel like he doesn't work in BG1 but could work in BG2. Which also plays on BG2's wider theme of having to work with some lesser evils to get the job done. As you say, completing his BG1 quest to his satisfaction does seem a bridge too far for any good protagonist I can imagine.

    Ironically I feel almost the opposite for Dorn. You can do his BG1 quest no problem, maybe even keep him around if you're not a good paladin. But his evil is extreme in the sequel.
    AerakarOrlonKronsteen
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,235
    The Red Wizards of Thay are a mageocracy that practices slavery. There is a greater than zero chance that Edwin owns many slaves.
    OrlonKronsteen
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,269
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    The Red Wizards of Thay are a mageocracy that practices slavery. There is a greater than zero chance that Edwin owns many slaves.

    Which is evil in our modern setting, but not necessarily evil in that setting. I don't think solely owning slaves would qualify one as evil in AD&D settings. Edwin is likely evil because he has no consideration for anybody but himself.
    DanacmOrlonKronsteen
  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 920
    Balrog99 wrote: »
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    The Red Wizards of Thay are a mageocracy that practices slavery. There is a greater than zero chance that Edwin owns many slaves.

    Which is evil in our modern setting, but not necessarily evil in that setting. I don't think solely owning slaves would qualify one as evil in AD&D settings. Edwin is likely evil because he has no consideration for anybody but himself.

    True, slavery is evil in our morality. There were culrures (ancient romans etc) where slavery were unfortunately common.
  • IseweinIsewein Member Posts: 421
    edited October 2021
    With some mental gymnastics he works quite well for a LG party. He is hunting a "witch" after all, nothing wrong with that. A witch whose mentally deranged chaotic companion may or may not have just attacked a cautious Charname at first sight. At least if Charname is unaware of Thayvian and Rashemi customs, I think a misreading of the situation is justifiable. The Lawful Stupid trope exists for a reason... ;)
    OrlonKronsteen
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,235
    edited October 2021
    Balrog99 wrote: »
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    The Red Wizards of Thay are a mageocracy that practices slavery. There is a greater than zero chance that Edwin owns many slaves.

    Which is evil in our modern setting, but not necessarily evil in that setting. I don't think solely owning slaves would qualify one as evil in AD&D settings. Edwin is likely evil because he has no consideration for anybody but himself.

    The Red Wizards are one of the biggest evil organizaions in the setting, and slavery is often one the first things mentioned as proof of how they're evil whenever it comes up. Slavery is also blatantly evil in D&D in general. You see it in BG2 as well. If anything, Faerun's morality is us with less bigotry.

    Also, good and evil is demonstrably not relative in D&D. You know, the whole "alignment" thing? Things are explicitly listed as evil, good, or neutral. Entire planes of existence are MADE of good and/or evil energy.

    And just like whenever someone brings up "good and evil as relative" I don't buy it unless you can explain why the evil you're dismissing is actually "good" in our world. Because if you can't, you're admitting that you don't actually see it as relative.
  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 1,291
    If anything morality seems to be more objective in the Forgotten Realms... after all it manifests itself in the Planes.
    ThacoBellOrlonKronsteen
  • VicissitudeVicissitude Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2021
    Here is my two cents on the subject.

    Can I justify bringing him along? Sure I can.

    Working with someone evil and embracing what that someone stands for are two very different things.

    In a perfect world one might avoid any form of collaboration with whoever/whatever deserves to be labelled as evil but that's just an idealistic and simplistic view that deserves to be exposed for what it is. Life is full of examples that simply deny this conflation.

    Just because you work in/work with a company that uses child labor across the world doesn't mean that you're responsible or even that you support it. Yes, I'm hinting the Red Wizards. In the same way, just because you pay taxes and thus finance a country that violates some fundamental rights or wages war against innocents doesn't mean that you're a belligerent jerk.

    This rule that you're evil if you get close to evil can be applied in so many areas (destroying the environment, tax avoidance, harassment, etc.) and with so many actors (your employer, the State, your family, your lover, etc.) that it eventually makes us all evil by association. Therefore, it's preposterous.

    Good and evil live together, sometimes colluding other times challenging each other. Do you really believe every country that fought the Axis during WW2 was pure and righteous? Of course not. Do you sincerely believe that the police never cooperates with thugs and shady people? Of course they do.

    Back to Edwin, hiring Edwin doesn't make you Edwin. This is specially true if you use him for a good cause. Does anyone here question how powerful and useful he can be as an ally? I'll risk it and say no. Therefore, it's what you use him for that matters.

    One could even argue that the most righteous path is to hire him and try bringing him to the good side. Heck, isn't that exactly what the game shows with Viconia? Even if you fail to redeem Edwin, it was right to try. So hire him, question him when he's malicious and get rid of him the moment it spins out of control. At this point, you might even punish/kill him and call it a deed of justice.
    Post edited by Vicissitude on
    Balrog99DinoDinOrlonKronsteen
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,235
    I mean, you are going to make Edwin much more powerful by taking him with you. And he won't be with you forever. Asking for his help and them murdering him doesn't smack of, "this is an act of good."
    OrlonKronsteen
  • VicissitudeVicissitude Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2021
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    I mean, you are going to make Edwin much more powerful by taking him with you. And he won't be with you forever. Asking for his help and them murdering him doesn't smack of, "this is an act of good."

    I understand your points but I disagree.

    First, I never said the plan was from the get-go to murder him after using him. That'd be cynical and probably evil, yes. The idea, actually, was to give him a chance to redeem and thus live. If he refuses to change despite your best efforts that's definitely not your fault or responsibility.

    Second, Edwin is more or less powerful depending on when you decide to recruit him. He'll be stronger in BG2 than in BG1 and he'll be stronger in either BG1 or BG2 if you don't recruit him asap as his experience will adapt to yours to a certain point. At the very least, he's a powerhouse in the making in BG1 if you rush to him. The rest of the time, he's already a mighty one who can fend for himself. He doesn't need you to level up and become the nearly unstoppable killing-machine we all know.

    You certainly can argue that it's wrong to contribute to his rising power if there's a chance he'll put it to bad use, but if that's your defense then you should kill him right away in BG1 because his evilness is kinda obvious without even casting Detect Evil. Letting a dangerous criminal run off to do whatever he wants is no less bad/evil than keeping him under control, especially if you can use him to do some good in the process. Doing nothing is also a way to contribute to his rise since you refused to stand in the way. So either way you end up killing him but in my case you have a chance to turn him and use him for good deeds.

    Consequently, it does strike me as an act of good.
    Post edited by Vicissitude on
  • VicissitudeVicissitude Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2021
    Ammar wrote: »
    If you think about it there are some interesting dilemmas in a high magic setting in FR. Individuals can amass so much personal power so that every evil caster and adventurer is a significant threat. Magic is like the assault rifle discussion on steroids.

    True, although the more attention you draw the more resistance you're likely to meet. Viconia might be a powerful individual with her innate magic resistance and spellcasting but as a drow she's considered a witch and hunted down to the point her racial power becomes a liability. In the same manner, with flashy and stylish magic comes jealousy and a willingness to watch it go down. Long story short, whatever power you can boast doesn't always translate into actual might.

    That's why Viconia ends up tied to a tree, helpless, waiting to be burned while lesser criminals can roam the land freely without anyone caring. In the end they'll live and she would die without your help.. so who's the strongest, really? That's also why you'll take down the mage first whenever you start a fight against a group, reducing his chance to make it out alive to a lower percentage than his companions. Power tends to balance out this way, it's true for people just as it is true for empires or organizations.

    Also, when everyone's focused on the same threat it opens a window of opportunity for another threat to rise. I would be equally - if not more - concerned with assassins and shady organizations that like to operate underground, smartly.
    Post edited by Vicissitude on
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,235
    @Vicissitude Its implied that your party members are only able to grow so fast, so quickly because they are with the Bhaal-spawn. You and 5 mortals all reaching demigod levels of power within the span of about 2 years? That's not normally possible in the setting. So yes, Edwin will become MUCH stronger MUCH faster with you than anywhere else.

    Which raises the dilemma, you can't keep him with you forever. So congrats, you've just unleashed a brand new, evil, archmage into the world with enough power to rival demigods. Not smart. So what do you do? You can't just murder him, that's evil...
  • VicissitudeVicissitude Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2021
    @ThacoBell : I don't get it.

    Even if what you say is true - I would dispute it - about the exceptional growth, that doesn't remove the fact that you can dispose of Edwin IF he remains malicious or if he wants to commit crimes. I've never said Edwin should run off with his super power to do as he pleases, I said the exact opposite. You want to see a shared godlike power, so be it, it's still 3-4 demigods plus you vs Edwin in most parties WITH the element of surprise on your side. I'm pretty sure it's safe. I could agree with you for a very small party though, as the risk of being somehow defeated by Edwin would be too high.

    I also never said that he should be kept forever, my points were, one, that evil can sometimes be used for the greater good and, two, that giving someone a chance to redeem was good. If neither of these conditions are met, then to the inferno he goes.

    That is unless you believe any kill to be evil in essence, in which case every single player of Baldur's Gate is evil. I would not follow you there. Meanwhile, as you progress in the game, if Edwin's still alive that means he's actually contributed in a good way. To put it differently, that means he's working his way to redemption. It's a win-win situation, really.
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,269
    @ThacoBell : I don't get it.

    Even if what you say is true - I would dispute it - about the exceptional growth, that doesn't remove the fact that you can dispose of Edwin IF he remains malicious or if he wants to commit crimes. I've never said Edwin should run off with his super power to do as he pleases, I said the exact opposite. You want to see a shared godlike power, so be it, it's still 3-4 demigods plus you vs Edwin in most parties WITH the element of surprise on your side. I'm pretty sure it's safe. I could agree with you for a very small party though, as the risk of being somehow defeated by Edwin would be too high.

    I also never said that he should be kept forever, my points were, one, that evil can sometimes be used for the greater good and, two, that giving someone a chance to redeem was good. If neither of these conditions are met, then to the inferno he goes.

    That is unless you believe any kill to be evil in essence, in which case every single player of Baldur's Gate is evil. I would not follow you there. Meanwhile, as you progress in the game, if Edwin's still alive that means he's actually contributed in a good way. In other words, he's working his way to redemption. It's a win-win situation.

    It's easier to just think in terms of black & white. Evil = always bad; Good = always good; Neutral = Evil in disguise...
    Vicissitude
  • VicissitudeVicissitude Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2021
    @Balrog99 : It sure is. I don't believe righteousness should be simple-minded, though. The world is complex, and there are many factors to take into account. Some people act good for wrong reasons (opportunism, misplaced pride) while others are evil for understandable reasons. So much so that they deserve another shot!

    Brage in BG1 is a shining example of what I said before: you're taking a slight risk by not killing him on sight (he could escape and keep up the carnage or turn hostile while you bring him back and kill one of your low-level companions) but it's definitely worth it because he was crazy and IS redeemable. Now, obviously, Edwin is not Brage but it's not insane to judge he also deserves a chance as long as it's a process under control. Which it can be imo.
    Balrog99OrlonKronsteen
  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 920
    If you do questionable but morally evil things, are you thing yourself as evil ?
    Evils also have loves, friends, family, maybe do good things and live good life. Also good is not equal nice.
    Katzerchen
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,235
    Danacm wrote: »
    If you do questionable but morally evil things, are you thing yourself as evil ?
    Evils also have loves, friends, family, maybe do good things and live good life. Also good is not equal nice.

    In D&D? Eventually. Those experience penalties hurt too...

    @Vicissitude "I've never said Edwin should run off with his super power to do as he pleases, I said the exact opposite." " I also never said that he should be kept forever, my points were, one, that evil can sometimes be used for the greater good and, two, that giving someone a chance to redeem was good. If neither of these conditions are met, then to the inferno he goes."

    THIS is where I take issue. How are you not letting him run off with all that power? Your post seems pretty explicitly to say you'll kill him. After accepting his assistance. You can talk about him being malicious or evil, but he served you just fine, right? Killing him after he stops being useful is like, THE evil thing that all the bad guys do in movies.

  • VicissitudeVicissitude Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2021
    @ThacoBell : It's not about killing him when he's no longer useful, it's about keeping him under control so he has a chance to turn to the good side. He doesn't have to die, nor does he have to work like a slave until he dies. If he changes, he's free to go whether you need him or not. Meanwhile, yes, he'll have to commit to doing good deeds. See it as community service if you will.

    I fail to see how this has anything to do with villains' plans in movies. Bad guys don't care if you become nice and will never tap on your shoulder saying you earned your freedom. They'll just exploit you regardless.

    You may refuse to collaborate with evil altogether, that's your right. I already explained why I didn't think highly of it.
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,235
    @Vicissitude "If he changes, he's free to go."

    This, this right here. What if he doesn't change? You keep denying that you will force him to stay, or murder him, but then you keep adding conditions he has to fufill. What if he doesn't? If he never changes alignment, will you never release him from service? What if he refuses to stay and try to leave? What if his alignment never changes, but he never attacks another party member, never disobeys an order, but insists on leaving?
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,269
    edited October 2021
    Honestly, Edwin doesn't do anything evil when he's with me unless I tell him to. You'd never know he was evil if he wasn't wearing the red robes and muttering under his breath. I don't see any dilemma in recruiting him in SoA. In BG1, however, he's on a mission to kill Dynaheir, and he says she's a witch. That might be enough to justify a neutral Charname in taking him, but a good Charname, probably not. Dynaheir doesn't attack on sight, so I don't see how a good person would just kill her without hearing her side of the story. A CG low intelligence berserker might kill her impulsively I suppose...

    Edit: I totally forgot about his Maevar's guild quests. I guess he does kind of telegraph his evilness there. You're kind of forced to play along with him though if you want to properly finish the quest. After that he doesn't do anything outright evil that I can recall...
    OrlonKronsteenDinoDinVicissitudeSBlack
  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 1,072
    You certainly can argue that it's wrong to contribute to his rising power if there's a chance he'll put it to bad use, but if that's your defense then you should kill him right away in BG1 because his evilness is kinda obvious without even casting Detect Evil. Letting a dangerous criminal run off to do whatever he wants is no less bad/evil than keeping him under control, especially if you can use him to do some good in the process.
    Yes, you are precisely correct that letting him run off and keeping him under your control are equally bad/evil, so the good-aligned course of action is to eliminate him right away because his evilness is kinda obvious without even casting detect evil.

    It's very strange indeed to help evil characters repeatedly level up while somehow seeing that as benevolence because, despite abundant evidence of the harm they have inflicted and want to inflict on others, you believe without evidence that at some indefinite point in the future they could be redeemed. By that standard, I'm hard-pressed to understand why you would ever try to defeat a villain as doing so would forever end the possibility of the good they could accomplish if only they were redeemed.
  • VicissitudeVicissitude Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2021
    jsaving wrote: »

    It's very strange indeed to help evil characters repeatedly level up while somehow seeing that as benevolence because, despite abundant evidence of the harm they have inflicted and want to inflict on others

    It's SO strange and unusual that players have recruited Viconia for her to stray away from evil for ages. What a crazy thought indeed. ;)
    jsaving wrote: »
    Yes, you are precisely correct that letting him run off and keeping him under your control are equally bad/evil, so the good-aligned course of action is to eliminate him right away because his evilness is kinda obvious without even casting detect evil.

    That is not what I said. I was merely pointing out that killing him on sight lacks humanity and can't be boasted as paragon of virtue. Do you instakill everyone that turns red on your Detect Evil spell? I think not.
    jsaving wrote: »
    you believe without evidence that at some indefinite point in the future they could be redeemed.

    I never said I was 100% sure Edwin could be redeemed. The only certainty is that he won't turn good if you don't give him a chance. Believing in humanity and second chances is kinda what being good is all about, mind you.
    Post edited by Vicissitude on
  • VicissitudeVicissitude Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2021
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Vicissitude "If he changes, he's free to go."

    This, this right here. What if he doesn't change? You keep denying that you will force him to stay, or murder him, but then you keep adding conditions he has to fufill. What if he doesn't? If he never changes alignment, will you never release him from service? What if he refuses to stay and try to leave? What if his alignment never changes, but he never attacks another party member, never disobeys an order, but insists on leaving?

    I shall play on your terms. It's wrong to cooperate with evil people, it's devilish to use them before disposing of them and it's also evil to let them go to do more shenanigans. Fine!

    Now, tell me, do you eliminate on sight the Vampires AND the Shadow Thieves because they're evil in BG2? Both clearly are evil, without question. Now, according to your own logic:

    - Giving them a ludicrous amount of gold is no more no less funding their criminal activities. Helping them fight the other guild is fast-tracking them to be the dominant evil organization in the city. You're unquestionably contributing to their rise in power just like you would help Edwin leveling up. That's even worse if you accomplish their side quests and let them off the hook afterwards. Obviously, you won't do that.

    - Working with them so you get Imoen before turning on them is also not an option, since you said it was "THE evil thing that all the bad guys do in movies". Clearly, you won't do that either.

    That leaves you with one option: killing them on sight, refusing their help and therefore condemning Imoen (an innocent) to suffering while she's captive because you denied yourself all options for her. Congratulations, nice move!

    I think this pretty much sums up why such rigidity of the mind doesn't hold water.
    Post edited by Vicissitude on
    Balrog99
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,460
    Ya what Viciss is saying here is why Edwin makes perfect sense even for a good protagonist in BG2. You ALREADY have to do what he wants to ally with the "good guys" for chapter 3, should you choose to do the thief guild sidequest. I almost feel like the writers made a conscious decision to rewrite Edwin a bit from BG1 and intentionally want you to consider allying with him even if you're not an evil party.

    I get that not everyone is going to see it this way. And I think some good protagonists might still kill Edwin or whatever, but I definitely think the game's writing indicates that he's now much more of a viable option than he had previously been.

    Some players may never fully explore the Shadow Thief compound, but if you do, you see all sorts of evil stuff like torture going on. And they're your "good" ally for the main plot!
    OrlonKronsteen
  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,278
    That is the thing about Edwin, yeah. On paper he's evil, and as a member of the Red Wizards of Thay, he certainly seems to condone and approve of a great many of the evil things they do in the pursuit of power. As ThacoBell points out, he almost certainly would have owned slaves of his own and probably has murdered not a few rivals who got in his way.

    But in practice... Aside from his initial quest to kill Dynaheir in BG1, we never actually SEE him do anything overtly evil while in our presence. He blusters and threatens a lot, yet he never follows through on any of those threats. He seems to have fallen out of favour with the Magocracy of Thay sometime between the events of BG1 and BG2 (there are some hints about this in SoD, but the exact reason why is still not specified). I honestly think that, just like Viconia, Edwin is a potential candidate for redemption as his evil seems not to be something hard-baked into him, but more a product of growing up in a thoroughly evil, exploitative society like Thay. Outside of a mod though, this is something you'd have to entirely head-canon.
    OrlonKronsteenPermidion_Stark
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 2,443
    Just for some in-game information, here's Edwin's epilogue:
    Edwin gained great renown in his travels with <CHARNAME>, and in the years following their association, he would exploit that infamy. In time, he achieved enough influence to subjugate even the Red Wizards themselves, becoming the greatest leader they had known in recent memory. Very recent memory, it turns out, as he was deposed scant days later. Such is the brief nature of conquerors in Thay, practically lining up for their turn in power. His only notable appearance following this embarrassment was in battle with Elminster of Shadowdale himself, a short affair that saw the end of Edwin's existence in the realms. Edwina, however, tends bar in a Waterdeep tavern. She is a bitter, bitter woman.

    Basically, Edwin wants to be a supervillain. He wants to take over his old home and gloat over his defeated enemies. Evil, yes - but the targets he most wants to take it out on are evil as well. And if he ever does achieve his goals, he'll make so many enemies that it won't last.
    Can Edwin be redeemed? He doesn't want to be redeemed, and that's why attempts would likely fail. You'd need a lot of work to change his motivations to even have a chance.

    As for how Edwin fell out of favor ... here's a quote from another Red Wizard (Denak) in BG1:
    Good day, travelers. Mmm, Edwin, I did not expect to see you so soon. I hope your... business has been attended to. If it hasn't, then you should deal with it soon. I think that Zulkir Nevron would be most disappointed if he were to hear that you failed. That is all that really needs to be said. Good day again, and goodbye.

    Edwin's already on a "last chance" mission when you meet him in Nashkel. He's out on his own without any real support, and he's only getting any if he succeeds at killing Dynaheir. Which he doesn't, in the canon story.
    ArviaOrlonKronsteenZaxares
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 871
    I actually find it harder to justify taking him in an evil party, these days, as he's so unpleasant and mouthy that none of my evil characters would tolerate him, even with the skills he brings to the table. Assuming my good characters don't know about his plans to murder Dynaheir (which, as jmerry points out, have failed in the cannon BG2 universe), they would be more likely to put up with his nonsense as yet another lesser-of-evil choice, and because their sheer compassion for Imoen would be greater than their egos. I guess much of it depends on how you RP your characters.
    Arvia
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