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Morality and Alignment. What do you choose and why?

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  • QuartzQuartz Member Posts: 3,851

    Anyone think that Dorn is chaotic evil?

    Yes and it's why I cannot stand him. He is Chaotic Evil with Chaotic Stupid tendencies.

    NokkenbuerCrevsDaakjackjack
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    Quartz said:

    Anyone think that Dorn is chaotic evil?

    Yes and it's why I cannot stand him. He is Chaotic Evil with Chaotic Stupid tendencies.
    I agree that Dorn often seems Chaotic Evil by his actions and history. When (in his BG1ee backstory) he slaughtered a whole village, he looked pretty much CE, and a remote observer of his murderous career in BG2ee might suppose that he remains CE.

    However, Sarevok in BG1 took care to appear to remote observers (the public) as if he were Lawful Good, in order to win election and take over the city, but of course he wasn't actually LG at all, as those who saw him up close (e.g. our protagonist) were well aware. Thus we can see that merely observing remotely doesn't tell us enough about someone's internal motivations to be sure about their real alignment.

    Actually, Dorn makes clear that his purpose in slaughtering the village was tyranny (rather than slaughter for its own sake), which is somewhat more of a Lawful Evil trait ("an iron-fisted tyrant" is actually one of the examples in the in-game definition of LE during character creation), and his BG1ee quest for revenge against those who betrayed him is driven by a belief in loyalty (i.e. that betrayal is inherently wrong), which is also somewhat of a Lawful trait (and not restricted only to Evil). The dominant factor in Dorn's life at the time of the Bhaalspawn quest is that he has a pact with Ur-Gothoz, and he's sticking to his contract, which is another Lawful trait. However, in BG2ee, it becomes clear that he's increasingly uncomfortable with the onerous and restrictive nature of his contract, so he's yearning to move back towards Chaotic.

    So, Dorn exhibits a mix of both Chaotic and Lawful tendencies in his Evil, perhaps more Chaotic in his past and more Lawful recently, perhaps more Chaotic again in his future. I therefore think that an overall assignment of Neutral Evil alignment is not unreasonable.

    Quartz
  • NokkenbuerNokkenbuer Member Posts: 146
    You also have to remember, @Gallowglass‌, that Dorn is a Blackguard and serves a mistress who commands him to do her bidding. Theoretically, Dorn may be so murderous and violent due to the commandments of his mistress. There is some, but not necessarily clear evidence (from what I remember) that Dorn actually revels in or enjoys his slaughtering of innocents. He may simply see it as a job or task to be carried out, as compared to a form of entertainment.

    meagloth
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356

    From the perspective of the games, especially the Baldur's Gate series, Evil-aligned characters don't necessarily revel in evil for the sake of it. This is what Kagain and Shar-Teel are Evil-aligned despite showing no overt behavior of enjoying evil for evil's sake.

    No, I reckon you're way off-beam here.

    Kagain is very typically LE - a greedy mercenary who works within the Law and sticks to his contracts, but he's selfish, violent, and cares about nothing except gold. Of course that's Evil - "the love of money is the root of all evil", and the love of money is precisely what Kagain is all about.

    I don't know how on Abeir-Toril you get the idea that Shar-Teel doesn't revel in evil. She's driven entirely by indiscriminate hatred and prejudice, she frequently declares her love of bloodshed for its own sake, and so on. If this isn't revelling in evil, what the heck is? She's the most openly Evil character in the whole saga. And since she's contemptuous of the law and is such a militant loner that she almost rejects any sentient company at all, she's clearly very Chaotic too. So Chaotic Evil is spot-on for Shar-Teel, and IMO one of the most obviously correct alignments in the game.

    Quartzdstoltzfus
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356

    You also have to remember, @Gallowglass‌, that Dorn is a Blackguard and serves a mistress who commands him to do her bidding. Theoretically, Dorn may be so murderous and violent due to the commandments of his mistress. There is some, but not necessarily clear evidence (from what I remember) that Dorn actually revels in or enjoys his slaughtering of innocents. He may simply see it as a job or task to be carried out, as compared to a form of entertainment.

    Yes, I haven't forgotten the nature of Blackguardy - but my point is that sticking to his pact with Ur-Gothoz shows some Lawful tendency.

    The internal evidence of the story (from his dialogues) is that Dorn is enjoying his murderous work in BG1ee, because it both suits his pre-existing taste for slaughter and very precisely dovetails with his personal purpose of revenge, but by the time we meet him again in BG2ee he is finding it more difficult to understand the reasons for some of the more recent killings. This is the main feature of the development of Dorn's character as the saga progresses: he kills with great relish (because he's an Evil bastard!) when he has a personal reason to kill, but then it turns out that he no longer enjoys it when he doesn't understand the purpose. (Actually, the storyline looks like it was being set up for an eventual option to redeem Dorn to True Neutral, but then the devs didn't follow through on that idea.)

    Nokkenbuer
  • NokkenbuerNokkenbuer Member Posts: 146

    From the perspective of the games, especially the Baldur's Gate series, Evil-aligned characters don't necessarily revel in evil for the sake of it. This is what Kagain and Shar-Teel are Evil-aligned despite showing no overt behavior of enjoying evil for evil's sake.

    No, I reckon you're way off-beam here.

    Kagain is very typically LE - a greedy mercenary who works within the Law and sticks to his contracts, but he's selfish, violent, and cares about nothing except gold. Of course that's Evil - "the love of money is the root of all evil", and the love of money is precisely what Kagain is all about.

    I don't know how on Abeir-Toril you get the idea that Shar-Teel doesn't revel in evil. She's driven entirely by indiscriminate hatred and prejudice, she frequently declares her love of bloodshed for its own sake, and so on. If this isn't revelling in evil, what the heck is? She's the most openly Evil character in the whole saga. And since she's contemptuous of the law and is such a militant loner that she almost rejects any sentient company at all, she's clearly very Chaotic too. So Chaotic Evil is spot-on for Shar-Teel, and IMO one of the most obviously correct alignments in the game.
    Well, let's see. According to the 3rd Edition rules of Dungeons & Dragons, "Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient or if it can be set up. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some malevolent deity or master." By this definition, an avaricious, uncaring dwarf is not necessarily evil so much as he is simply greedy. While one can suspect Kagain is willing to permit the occurrence of harming, oppressing, and killing other to achieve his aims, there is no solid evidence for this. The only indications that he may be evil are his management of a dubious mercenary organization and his quickness at giving up trying to find Entar's son once he deems it no longer profitable or worthy of his time. Aside from that, there is nothing about his background, lore, or dialogue which indicates an evil alignment (aside from the scripted responses he may give when an evil action is committed). His love of money alone, though, is not sufficient evidence of an evil nature.

    I say that Shar-Teel isn't necessarily evil in the sense that she revels in evil behavior. Yes, she is bloodthirsty, which can classify her as Evil, but her bloodthirstiness may be a result of a misguided upbringing, rather than any innate alignment. I must admit, however, that by the description of "Evil" provided by the Dungeons & Dragons rulebook Shar-Teel is indeed evil. This is where I disagree with the rules requisites involved in classifying a character as Evil themselves, rather than the classification of a character (i.e., Shar-Teel) as Evil.

    Perhaps Shar-Teel is evil. However, I still find it difficult to label her as such because while she is bloodthirsty, her bloodthirstiness is honed and focused toward specific groups and peoples, i.e., men and boys. This suggests that her hotheaded and violent tendencies are borne from an abusive or otherwise violent past. Unlike the usual Evil character, who is violent and aggressive because they enjoy killing on a sensual level, Shar-Teel seems to be so bloodthirsty because she is seeking to repay the wrongs in her past, which on some level suggests a conscience and an internal conflict of guilt and anger. This brings forth the question: if someone who is normally of Good or Neutral alignment suffers from serious psychological trauma, would any aggressive, abusive, or otherwise evil behavior resulting from this trauma reclassify them as "Evil"? There is insufficient explanation for such phenomena in the D&D rules; it merely gives definitions and classifications for the actions (and to some extent motives) of people and how that translates into alignment, but it does not adequately explain how special cases are handled. I considered Shar-Teel to be one such special case.

    Perhaps I'm thinking too much into it, but to me Shar-Teel isn't "Evil" by nature so much as she is "Evil" as a result of past trauma and abuse. In this sense, I would classify Shar-Teel as a misguided Chaotic Neutral with very evil tendencies. Yes, one could classify her as Chaotic Evil, but it just doesn't seem to sufficiently describe her since her "evilness" is artificial, as compared to natural and innate. Shar-Teel just seems to me like too much a product of her own past, in much the same way Ogres, Orcs, and Drow are "Chaotic Evil" as a result of their cultures and environments.

    From how I see it, someone is "Evil" in the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse (at least with respects to The Forgotten Realms universe) because they are born Evil, just like Good people are Good and Neutral people Neutral by birth. Yes, I understand that within a lifetime, someone may drastically change in alignment—Good people may become bad, Neutral people may become Good, Evil people may become Neutral, etc. But what about those who shift or forced into a given alignment by forces out of their control? Is it really appropriate to classify an abused Neutral-aligned person who behaves evilly due to their former abuse as "Evil"? Is it right to consider a person who acts evilly but aspires to be Good as strictly Evil-aligned? I find that the D&D alignment system is sufficient in detailing the alignments and behaviors of people whose alignment parallels their natural disposition. For those who are forced into a given alignment, or deviate from their natural disposition due to past trauma or abuse, I think the alignment system fails quite miserably. In much the same way a Good-aligned person can act out of their alignment if Dominated or (under certain circumstances) Charmed, so do people who were victims of abuse or trauma act outside of their natural disposition.

    I may be wrong, and I probably am, but I consider Shar-Teel Chaotic Evil by habit, and Evil only Evil because of her past, similar to how Viconia DeVir is Neutral Evil due to her Drow heritage and upbringing. If properly guided, one could possibly rehabilitate Shar-Teel and aid her in mending her emotional scars, rather than letting her wounds fester through her actions. That is, of course, given she is even willing to change.

    TL;DR –

    Being very greedy isn't enough to classify Kagain as evil. Maybe the fact that he manages a dubious mercantile organization without complaint, or is eagerness to give up the search for Entar's son despite Entar being his employer... Those could be possible reasons to label Kagain as Evil. Outside of that, though, Kagain just seems to be an avaricious, egotistic dwarf. Those are certainly unbecoming traits, but not necessarily enough to qualify him as Evil.

    Shar-Teel is a much more complex case. To summarize what I stated above, though, I think she's Evil only because of her traumatic and abused past, not by nature as most Evil-aligned characters tend to be. Due to that, I have a hard time classifying her as Chaotic Evil in the same respect as Tiax or Xzar or Sarevok Anchev, whose Evil is pretty innate and ingrained into their entire character. To me, Shar-Teel is more of a Chaotic Neutral person turned Evil as a result of her past. She's as much naturally Evil as Viconia DeVir is, or (dare I say?) Ogres and Orcs are. Her evilness is a product of her past, much like the aforementioned's evilness are a product of their heritage and cultural upbringing, respectively.

    I'm probably wrong, since my views are deviating significantly from traditional D&D alignment classification. But seeing how the rules don't really address special or unique cases like Shar-Teel, I think some reasonable extrapolation is appropriate.

    TheGraveDiggerSCARY_WIZARD
  • ElrandirElrandir Member Posts: 1,652
    I'll probably read through this thread later, but it's late at night and I'm tired, so I'm just going to talk about my choices for characters/personal alignment.

    I role-play with the vast majority of my characters so my alignments can vary greatly, however in general I tend towards Neutral Good or Chaotic Good characters. This is because they have the best attributes when it comes to morality. I believe the most "good" person one can be is a Neutral Good character. I believe at times a Chaotic Good or even Lawful Good is the "most good" character, but in general, a Neutral Good character is lawful, empathetic, and caring, which allows them to both help others while also committing as few possible evils as one could expect from a human. (no one's perfect)


    As for my own personal alignment? I'm a combination of Chaotic Good and Lawful Neutral. Weird combo, I know, but there's a logic to it.

    Chaotic: I hate being controlled or forced to do things I don't wish to do, and I feel strongly about personal freedom.

    Good: I try to do the right thing, always help others, yadda yadda. I'm a Christian, and I try to show love to everyone, since that's what I believe we should do. Doesn't mean I approve of what people do necessarily, but it's not my place to judge so I try to treat everyone the same, with the same level of respect and care.

    Lawful: While I may hate being controlled and forced to do things, I am also at the same time very happy to be told what to do, as long as I have no qualms with the job. It provides a sense of security to not have to be the one making the decisions, though I have been placed in leadership positions before. I respect every law I'm aware of, sometimes to a fault, and I never try to step on other's toes. I like being liked, and following what people tell me to is a simple way of not being disliked.

    Neutral: I have a definite selfish streak, and good or evil, it's gotta be me. I try to be good and put others first, but sometimes I want nothing more than to satisfy myself. My neutrality isn't so much a matter of preserving balance as it is putting me over others. Sometimes I do definitively unkind things to make my own life easier.

    So yeah. I'm human. I try to be good but I'm human, so I'm not perfect. *Shrugs* I'm just CG/LN ol' me. Cool thread, InvictusCobra.

    Nokkenbuer
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018


    Well, let's see. According to the 3rd Edition rules of Dungeons & Dragons, "Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient or if it can be set up. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some malevolent deity or master." By this definition, an avaricious, uncaring dwarf is not necessarily evil so much as he is simply greedy. While one can suspect Kagain is willing to permit the occurrence of harming, oppressing, and killing other to achieve his aims, there is no solid evidence for this. The only indications that he may be evil are his management of a dubious mercenary organization and his quickness at giving up trying to find Entar's son once he deems it no longer profitable or worthy of his time. Aside from that, there is nothing about his background, lore, or dialogue which indicates an evil alignment (aside from the scripted responses he may give when an evil action is committed). His love of money alone, though, is not sufficient evidence of an evil nature.

    The fact that Kagain gets a "Happy" when your reputation goes down (and it usually goes down when you kill people like flaming fist and random civilians) absolutely suggests that he is evil. Just because he isn't a loud mouth jerk about it, doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy the blood sports.

    TJ_HookerTheGraveDiggerQuartz
  • NokkenbuerNokkenbuer Member Posts: 146


    Well, let's see. According to the 3rd Edition rules of Dungeons & Dragons, "Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient or if it can be set up. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some malevolent deity or master." By this definition, an avaricious, uncaring dwarf is not necessarily evil so much as he is simply greedy. While one can suspect Kagain is willing to permit the occurrence of harming, oppressing, and killing other to achieve his aims, there is no solid evidence for this. The only indications that he may be evil are his management of a dubious mercenary organization and his quickness at giving up trying to find Entar's son once he deems it no longer profitable or worthy of his time. Aside from that, there is nothing about his background, lore, or dialogue which indicates an evil alignment (aside from the scripted responses he may give when an evil action is committed). His love of money alone, though, is not sufficient evidence of an evil nature.

    The fact that Kagain gets a "Happy" when your reputation goes down (and it usually goes down when you kill people like flaming fist and random civilians) absolutely suggests that he is evil. Just because he isn't a loud mouth jerk about it, doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy the blood sports.
    I don't know if that's necessarily sufficient proof to classify Kagain as Evil, though. Does his happiness raise when Evil acts are committed because he approves of them, or simply because it is a part of the games mechanics? It could be that Kagain's happiness rises because he is labeled as Lawful Evil as a result of how alignments work in the game, but not because he actually approves of such behavior.

    Yes, I understand this is all really hypothetical, and I'm trying to differentiate Kagain the NPC party option from Kagain the the dwarf, but I just find that to be insufficient proof. If I changed the alignment of, let's say, Khalid to Neutral Evil, will his happiness raise or lower when evil acts are committed? While Kagain is ultimately just a series of code and pixels with scripted dialogue from a voice actor, I am considering Kagain from the perspective of him being a real dwarf in The Forgotten Realms, in much the same way you would analyze a character in a novel (or someone in real life).

  • SCARY_WIZARDSCARY_WIZARD Member Posts: 1,431



    TL;DR –

    Being very greedy isn't enough to classify Kagain as evil. Maybe the fact that he manages a dubious mercantile organization without complaint, or is eagerness to give up the search for Entar's son despite Entar being his employer... Those could be possible reasons to label Kagain as Evil. Outside of that, though, Kagain just seems to be an avaricious, egotistic dwarf. Those are certainly unbecoming traits, but not necessarily enough to qualify him as Evil.

    Shar-Teel is a much more complex case. To summarize what I stated above, though, I think she's Evil only because of her traumatic and abused past, not by nature as most Evil-aligned characters tend to be. Due to that, I have a hard time classifying her as Chaotic Evil in the same respect as Tiax or Xzar or Sarevok Anchev, whose Evil is pretty innate and ingrained into their entire character. To me, Shar-Teel is more of a Chaotic Neutral person turned Evil as a result of her past. She's as much naturally Evil as Viconia DeVir is, or (dare I say?) Ogres and Orcs are. Her evilness is a product of her past, much like the aforementioned's evilness are a product of their heritage and cultural upbringing, respectively.

    I'm probably wrong, since my views are deviating significantly from traditional D&D alignment classification. But seeing how the rules don't really address special or unique cases like Shar-Teel, I think some reasonable extrapolation is appropriate.

    See, this is why I like the "...with tendencies" fine-print. Shar-Teel could be CE (CN tendencies).

    jackjack
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,600
    edited August 2014
    @Nokkenbuer‌ , you know, there's such a thing as "Word of God", a trope that can be invoked to greatly simplify the discussion about Kagain. In a nutshell, he's evil because his writer SAYS he's evil. It's the same with Viconia, Edwin, Shar-Teel, Eldoth, Tiax, and later, Korgan.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WordOfGod

    *unapologetically casts Maze spell by linking TV Tropes.*

    Honestly, it's a great site, so I don't really understand why people condemn those who link it, unless it's just trying to save from the admitted Maze spell cast on those who are susceptible. :D

    EDIT: Holy crap, you know what? I just tried to list new evil npc's introduced by vanilla bg2, and failed to think of a single one besides Korgan. Talk about anti-evil bias in the game designs!

  • ElrandirElrandir Member Posts: 1,652
    @BelgarathMTH‌, people have an issue with tvtropes? 0_o Why? It's an amazing website.

    BelgarathMTH
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,600
    @Elrandir, ikr? Yet, every time I've ever linked it, I've gotten blasted. And, everybody else I've ever seen linking it apologizes for doing so. It's almost like some kind of cultural tradition. If you link TV Tropes, you must apologize. If you do not apologize for linking it, you've committed some kind of social faux pas that I don't really get. *shrug* :)

    Elrandir
  • jackjackjackjack Member Posts: 3,251
    It's because TV tropes has a way of sucking you in and not letting go for a few good hours. The apologies are usually half in jest, made for robbing someone of their time.
    Fun site.

    Elrandir
  • NokkenbuerNokkenbuer Member Posts: 146

    @Nokkenbuer‌ , you know, there's such a thing as "Word of God", a trope that can be invoked to greatly simplify the discussion about Kagain. In a nutshell, he's evil because his writer SAYS he's evil. It's the same with Viconia, Edwin, Shar-Teel, Eldoth, Tiax, and later, Korgan.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WordOfGod

    *unapologetically casts Maze spell by linking TV Tropes.*

    Honestly, it's a great site, so I don't really understand why people condemn those who link it, unless it's just trying to save from the admitted Maze spell cast on those who are susceptible. :D

    EDIT: Holy crap, you know what? I just tried to list new evil npc's introduced by vanilla bg2, and failed to think of a single one besides Korgan. Talk about anti-evil bias in the game designs!

    I understand that argument, but I believe it is insufficient. From the perspective of Kagain as a dwarf rather than an NPC in a fictitious game, there is not sufficient evidence that Kagain is truly Evil. Yes, he behaves as such in the game, but I'm not talking about how he was coded. I'm talking about who he is as a character, which I must say the developers and writers have done a poor job at defining (perhaps intentionally). Due to this ambiguity, I see no proof of his Evilness. Unlike fandom and "fanon," I am not suggesting an altered lore nor am I composing noncanonical information about his life. I'm simply pointing out the logical conclusion to the given problem: without sufficient proof of Kagain's Evil nature, one can surmise that he is not truly or totally Evil, but rather an alignment which better fits the information providing about him as a character, which to me appears to be Chaotic Neutral (Evil).

    Unless further clarification is presented by whomever is responsible for the creation of Kagain as a character, I think it's safe to maintain this conclusion.

    As for people disliking TVTropes, I see no problem with it. In fact, I've never heard of the website before! From what little I saw, it appears to be heavily opinionated and geared toward user-generated articles about certain literary phenomena. It doesn't look very credible, but it otherwise doesn't seem to be a bad site.

  • KnellerKneller Member Posts: 432
    If I'm playing a mage, I go CG, but that's mostly for the familiar. Not a terribly good reason. However, considering what you have to do, especially in BG2, I wouldn't feel right playing any lawful alignment. NG is even a stretch at times. Also, I usually max out my rep, so none of the evils would be right, and even the neutrals are not the best fit. So, that just leaves CG.

  • DetectiveMittensDetectiveMittens Member Posts: 234
    I play true neutral so I can do the Jaheira Romance :/

  • NokkenbuerNokkenbuer Member Posts: 146

    I play true neutral so I can do the Jaheira Romance :/

    You do know you can romance Jaheira at pretty much any alignment, right? I had the option to romance Jaheira during my current Neutral Good playthrough, though I chose Aerie instead.

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