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Is wiping out the Xvart and Gibberling villages evil?

It occurred to me on this last run, which is much closer to a true "lawful/neutral good" campaign, that wiping out these villages might be considered evil. Sure, they are almost invariably "bad guys", if usually more annoying than anything else, but you are entering their villages and wiping them out. It seems to me that they kind of have a right to attack under the circumstances.

Ajantis would likely disagree, as both races are considered evil/savage, but unlike the Gnoll fortress, where you have a legit reason to hike up there and clear the place out, the same isn't really true of either of these lesser villages. There is some minor treasure in the cave near the Xvart village, and virtually nothing of value in the Gibberling alcove.

Just curious to see what other people have to say on the subject.
YigorIsewein

Comments

  • YigorYigor Member Posts: 223
    Yes, stop the racial discrimination of those little dudes, Xvarts ad Gibberlings! ?
  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 1,291
    Well, the Xvart attack you first and wisely the game doesn't show any kids or old Xvarts. So it seems like a stretch.

    As for Gibberlings, they are extraplanar invaders who consume and eat everything their way, including people on sight. They are more like a natural catastrophe than people. The games really do not do justice to how how terrifying they are described in the lore. Their appearance in the book Curse of the Shadowmage is probably a good example of what Gibberlings are.
    StummvonBordwehrConjurerDragonAedan
  • GraionDilachGraionDilach Member Posts: 202
    You have a reason for the xvarts as well - the farmer with the cow on the bottom right of the map above the Carnival complains about xvart raids being violent lately.
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 2,439
    Also, one of the more natural ways to run into the xvart village is if you're heading west from Nashkel to the gnoll fortress. You hit that area, and there's rough terrain with a single path up ... which leads straight to the xvarts. You'd just go right through if you had a choice, but they attack, and you defend yourselves.

    NPC Project Kivan does lament killing the xvarts, but he doesn't exactly offer an alternative. And he doesn't leave you over it.
    StummvonBordwehrAedan
  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 1,090
    Yup, it occurred to me that you never see a "peaceful, fun-loving" Xvart village. They are always supporting bad guys, or just being bad guys - even if their badness is mostly a joke once you are level 2 or higher.

    Still, it would be nice if more NPCs commented on actions like this. My current party did, in fact, wipe them out. Made a nice little test for my Dragon Disciple to test out her fire attack. I was suitably impressed.

    Still, I think it is a bit too easy to take a party down possible bad paths by trying too hard to be heroes. I wouldn't mind a mod that makes a few of those Xvarts innocents, forcing you to be a bit more careful.
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,363
    The fantasy hero tearing through orc armies is a staple of the genre. When building these fantasy universes, often they'll specifically put in a race of monster men, or several, whose lives basically don't "count". The hero can kill as many of them as they like for any or no reason and never be tarnished by it.

    The basic reasoning of Wizards of the Coast would be that Xvarts are just fundamentally, biologically evil from birth. So when you walk in on a Xvart village you don't have to spare any thought to the idea that you're the intruder here, you can just chop away and collect loot. If I recall some writers have talked about the mandates surrounding how they wrote M'kiin. Obviously she exists to question this trope as much as the writers were able but there was a lot of red tape around it.

    There's a fair criticism to be made of the narrative implications of that. Though it does arguably help with the gameplay experience if there are some creatures of varying levels of intelligence that we can put in front of the player and just know from the outset that they can roll for initiative without worrying about all the concerns that would typically surround killing a person. The game is a fundamentally violent one. Almost every gameplay mechanic either directly or indirectly works towards hurting or killing an adversary. The whole process slows down a lot if we have to be tried by a jury of our peers every time we snuff an intelligent life.

    That being said, I hear the newer editions are moving away from that and personally I think it's for the best.
    DinoDinBalrog99
  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,278
    In the case of the Xvarts, they do attack you unprovoked, so you're well within your rights to defend yourself. If you're Good-aligned, you should at least offer the opportunity to surrender or let them flee (as well as spare non-combatants), although the game doesn't really offer you the opportunity to do that. Killing them all is a tad extreme and might be cause for reproachment from Good clerics or Good-aligned beings, however.

    For Gibberlings, as Ammar mentions they are not actually native to Faerun (I can't say for certain, but I think Gibberlings are actually originally a race of creatures native to the Lower Planes that somehow got brought over to various Material Plane worlds and wound up becoming endemic in the ecology) and are more of an invasive pest than anything else. But much as a Good-aligned Druid might still object to excessively cruel ways of eradicating an invasive species, so too might Good-aligned characters draw the line at just exterminating Gibberlings wherever they might be found. They might instead focus on containment or relocation strategies ("Hmmm... What if we 'relocated' these Gibberlings into Zhentarim lands, hmm?"), or finding ways to make Gibberlings less aggressive.

    Basically, for Good characters violence is usually always a last resort. While you can certainly defend yourself if attacked, you should stop the death and violence the moment it is no longer necessary.
  • masteralephmasteraleph Member Posts: 194
    Zaxares wrote: »
    Basically, for Good characters violence is usually always a last resort. While you can certainly defend yourself if attacked, you should stop the death and violence the moment it is no longer necessary.

    I'm...not really sure how true this is? IIRC the traditional scale for 2e was more along the lines of selflessness vs selfishness- eg Robin Hood being Chaotic Good in robbing from the rich to give to the poor vs Chaotic Evil being robbing from the rich to give to themselves. There are plenty of "Lawful Good" characters who'd be perfectly happy leading a crusade to wipe out the Drow or whatever, despite the theoretical ideal of getting them to leave Lolth-worship behind (basically, Ajantis and Keldorn are "Lawful Good," though of course the goodest Lawful Good character in the game is Mazzy, who might well try to get the Drow to convert).
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,363
    Yeah, I think that's what makes morality so muddy in this context. Like I said earlier, it's a fundamentally violent game.

    You can in theory play a pacifist dungeons and dragons campaign where you just run a cafe or something but there would be very little need for the rule book. It would at that point be a mostly freestyle game of pretend that maybe occasionally references that expensive tome you bought from Wizards of the Coast. Hurting and Killing is taken as a given for good and evil adventurers alike. All we can boil it down to is why you're killing, and perhaps whom.

    While real life morality could hold that it's moral to only be violent as a last resort I'm not sure how well that actually tracks with say for example the "good" and "evil" paths in Baldur's Gate. They're both pretty proactively violent.

    Undertale is a game you could argue has that stance on morality. It's got a whole gameplay mechanic for sparing your opponent. The "good" campaign is legitimately much less bloody than the "evil" campaign.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,278
    edited December 2021
    I'm...not really sure how true this is? IIRC the traditional scale for 2e was more along the lines of selflessness vs selfishness- eg Robin Hood being Chaotic Good in robbing from the rich to give to the poor vs Chaotic Evil being robbing from the rich to give to themselves. There are plenty of "Lawful Good" characters who'd be perfectly happy leading a crusade to wipe out the Drow or whatever, despite the theoretical ideal of getting them to leave Lolth-worship behind (basically, Ajantis and Keldorn are "Lawful Good," though of course the goodest Lawful Good character in the game is Mazzy, who might well try to get the Drow to convert).

    Ultimately, yes, I agree that Good is about selflessness and helping people while Evil is about selfishness and hurting people. However, I also feel like the common trope that "Good must wipe out Evil!" in some grand, apocalyptic clash is a legacy from the earlier editions of D&D, which was much more focused on traditional dungeon crawling and not a lot of thought was given to in-depth analyses of motivations and the nature of evil. Orcs and Drow and Chromatic Dragons were always Evil, just because. There were no ifs, buts or exceptions. There wasn't much point to trying to redeem or rehabilitate Evil beings because there literally was no way of doing so. Drizzt, in fact, was considered to be a singular aberration; the one stain on Lolth's dominion over the drow that she absolutely had to eradicate. Of course, looking at it from a logical point of view, that must be ridiculous. Drizzt can't possibly have been the ONLY drow since their flight underground to have ever been Good, but when he was first introduced, it was played up like this was the case.

    Anyway, I digress. The point is that I think the game benefits more from the idea that D&D alignment is more than simply a clash of opposing beliefs; the two beliefs are literally diametrically opposed. If Good is willing to accept the idea that the only permanent way of defeating Evil is to destroy it, then ultimately aren't you just the same as your opponent? Your reasons for destroying the other may differ, but you're still just two faces of the same coin. I personally prefer to ascribe to the belief that Goodness is ultimately about compassion, mercy and forgiveness. One good example of this was the end of the Twins trilogy in Dragonlance. What ultimately saved Raistlin from being condemned to the Abyss (and preventing Takhisis from coming through the portal) wasn't his immense magical power or some trick he used against Takhisis; it was because despite everything Raistlin had done, Caramon would not abandon his brother to his well-deserved fate.

    Of course, if you'd prefer to play your D&D setting as a much more straightforward clash between black and white ideals, without unnecessary moral conundrums to get in the way, go for it. :) D&D is about being escapist fantasy, in whatever way works best for your table. Sometimes it can also be refreshing to play in a game where the bad guys are just irredeemably bad, and merit nothing more than a swift Smite Evil to the face! XD
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,653
    The trouble is that they mindlessly attack on sight. As a good-aligned character, I wouldn't attack their village nor slaughter them by the dozens. But if they're going to try to kill me, I have no choice but to defend myself. We were only trying to find a path through the wilderness to the gnoll fortress. I didn't attack them, they attacked me.

    Real sentient creatures, even from a culture that attacks outsiders on sight, would surely realize they are vastly overmatched, and try to surrender or parlay. Rich Burlew did an OotS comic about this D&D problem where he poked fun at it, and then went on to make it a major plot point of the story arc of the entire series:

    pd2y4np8lec6.jpg
  • GundanRTOGundanRTO Member Posts: 81
    You can skirt the Xvart Village entirely by travelling along the bottom section of the map and still reach the Gnoll Stronghold.

    That said, as has already been mentioned, once you encounter Hurlik and save Arabelle the cow from the Xvarts, you have justification as a Good character to confront the Xvart village in order to stop further raids. They'll attack on sight and charge headlong to what should be their doom, but your character can still undertake the Xvart Raids quest with the intention of trying to resolve it without resorting to violence.
  • SCARY_WIZARDSCARY_WIZARD Member Posts: 1,437
    Here's the problem as I see it, at least as far as the xvarts go.

    If I'm trotting past a territory, the people attack, and they keep on attacking after attempts at parley, then I'm gonna defend myself! That's neutral. If they surrender after a bunch of theirs are all ribbons on the ground and I still swing, then that's evil.
    If I'm trotting past a territory, the people don't do anything, and I and go slinging burning oil all over the place just because they're there? That's evil.

    Xvarts are critters who steal and kill, though... Add to this the fact that D&D's morality has physical and metaphysical manifestations unlike real life where the closest you're going to get to evil is geese and the closest you're going to get to good is capybaras, and things have gotten very complicated all of a sudden. These little dudes are chaotic, and evil, <I>and</I> the spawn of a demonic demigod whose entire M.O. is "steal stuff and give it to me!". That "demigod spawn" part's kind of a problem, because where a human or an orc who was raised in a culture that's got tendencies <I>this way</I> and/or <I>that way</I> <I>could change</I>, things like xvarts are a little different in that they've got some magical coding going on upstairs that prevents a lot of that sort of thing. It's like trying to teach a dog how to map out neural pathways: They can hear your voice, but the science-learning and applying parts of Rover's brain aren't there.

    So, if you've got the strength and the means to remove this threat to the good people and their farmlands, do the right thing and put an end to it. To do otherwise would condemn innocents to death, and others to starvation. And that's evil.
  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,278
    edited December 2021
    Here's the problem as I see it, at least as far as the xvarts go.

    If I'm trotting past a territory, the people attack, and they keep on attacking after attempts at parley, then I'm gonna defend myself! That's neutral. If they surrender after a bunch of theirs are all ribbons on the ground and I still swing, then that's evil.
    If I'm trotting past a territory, the people don't do anything, and I and go slinging burning oil all over the place just because they're there? That's evil.

    Xvarts are critters who steal and kill, though... Add to this the fact that D&D's morality has physical and metaphysical manifestations unlike real life where the closest you're going to get to evil is geese and the closest you're going to get to good is capybaras, and things have gotten very complicated all of a sudden. These little dudes are chaotic, and evil, <I>and</I> the spawn of a demonic demigod whose entire M.O. is "steal stuff and give it to me!". That "demigod spawn" part's kind of a problem, because where a human or an orc who was raised in a culture that's got tendencies <I>this way</I> and/or <I>that way</I> <I>could change</I>, things like xvarts are a little different in that they've got some magical coding going on upstairs that prevents a lot of that sort of thing. It's like trying to teach a dog how to map out neural pathways: They can hear your voice, but the science-learning and applying parts of Rover's brain aren't there.

    So, if you've got the strength and the means to remove this threat to the good people and their farmlands, do the right thing and put an end to it. To do otherwise would condemn innocents to death, and others to starvation. And that's evil.

    I actually didn't know that Xvarts are descended from the bloodline of a demonic demigod (I'm assuming it was the offspring of a deity and a demon?). That does shift the balance of your argument towards your position, yes. That said, assuming that the xvarts are mortal creatures, they would still possess free will and could choose to fight the inclinations of their origin. (The same applies to tieflings, for instance, despite their fiendish bloodline.) Blindly slaughtering all members of an usually evil race has a tendency to wind up catching undeserving individuals as a result.

    Moreover, one must be extremely cautious when using the "leaving evil beings alive would just hurt innocents down the line!" argument, because this is exactly how a lot of Good characters (especially Paladins) wind up falling from grace. It's very easy at some point for this argument to become an excuse for the character to continue their actions, either because they want the loot (greed), the XP (pride) or because they've developed a taste for the violence and death but justify it under the belief that "they're evil beings, so they deserve it". If at some point a Good character comes to LIKE causing harm, pain and death, even if it's to evil creatures, then in my eyes they are no longer Good. At best, they are Neutral characters in the service of Good.

    EDIT: I forgot to add, the "we must destroy evil creatures before they can harm good creatures!" runs into one very problematic situation. What do you do about the non-combatants (women and children, or sometimes just children) of the tribe of orcs/goblins/xvarts you just killed? If you let them go free, you're ostensibly creating a future generation of "monsters". But if you kill them... Well, I think it would be very hard to justify slaughtering women and children who cannot put up any kind of proper defense against you, even if they are Evil beings.
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