PDA

View Full Version : Alignment: Good



ronpyatt
08-07-2008, 12:03 AM
(Taking a cue from DMMike's evil post.)
Any good alignment, within the broad range of goodness from too-good-to-be-real to just-good-enough-to-be-called-good can be hard to play in a setting where killing is par for the course. And fantasy settings include a lot of violence/combat, where death is a regular occurrence (for the monsters, at least).

What makes playing a good character fun?
Is it just roleplaying that make believe ideal of goodness?
Where do you draw the line at where good starts in your game?

ignimbrite
08-07-2008, 12:41 AM
I think playing a new character is fun when you actually go about the world and do some good acts. Take the time and RP some tough moral questions, like prisoners and torture, berate the neutral halfling for not donating. You don't have to go overboard because very few people like to listen to that stuff all the time.
I think that although some players say their characters are Good, they don't play them good enough. They may have good days - just like a normal person - but they are usually a little self (or party) centric.
I think good should involve a little bit of sacrifice (not the bad kind of sacrifice though), a character should perhaps donate to a charity or have some good backstory or side profession that ca be used to further Good during their downtime.
Most people and PCs are neutral and that is OK by me.

DMMike
08-07-2008, 09:29 AM
What makes playing a good character fun?
Is it just roleplaying that make believe ideal of goodness?
Where do you draw the line at where good starts in your game?
For me, a good character is fun as a roleplaying challenge. Good characters must make the hard choices: which is the lesser of two evils? What Would Ehlonna Do? Will I hate myself tomorrow if I eat the cookie that prostitute is offering?
Otherwise, I prefer neutral characters, because they can seek gold, fame, fortune, Magic Items to Aid in Their Quests, etc.

Good starts where neutrality ends - when evil approaches 0%. I'd leave enough wiggle room for self preservation, but very little. Maybe not - humanoids can still choose to be pacifists, which is one step Gooder (new word, thank you very much) than killing or hurting someone else.

The evil percentage comment gave me an idea - if neutrality (for some) is just a mixture of good and evil, then Protection from Good and Protection from Evil should both affect neutral characters. Nice...

Webhead
08-07-2008, 10:23 AM
To paraphrase the incredible Jack Kirby: "We believe in heroes because, ultimately, we believe in ourselves."

I think people are so drawn to heroes and the "heroic" because we would like to think that somewhere, deep down, we have the ability to cling to something good even in the midst of a world full of gray. It is so easy to make the "wrong", selfish choices, and we would like to think that we can have the strength of character to make the "right", selfless choices when it really counts.

It is a role playing challenge in its own way to play "good". You have to make tough moral choices pertaining to the fates of those other than yourself. You have to think beyond yourself and your own desires and work for the betterment of others. You have to risk your well-being to inspire hope and courage and to protect those who cannot protect themselves. You have to accept the idea that you will do what you do not for reward or reknown, but out of a sense of responsibility and duty. It is irresponsible for you not to take a stand for others. If you don't do it, who will?

I find playing "good" fun because I like exploring these ideas. I like playing the guy who stands before the demonic legions as says, "No! I will not let you hurt a single soul...even unto my dying breath!" That dramatic heroism is a lot of fun to play for me. I think it's fun because it is dramatic and not something that you see in "real life" that often. The idea that some people will not crumble and betray their sensibilities in the face of adversity or mortality.

That said, I don't always play characters of that sort. It is fun to explore other personality types as well. But when all is said and done, even my more "neutral" or "selfish" characters have at least a spark of goodness somewhere within them that will manifest under the right kinds of circumstances. I don't play characters without a conscience...good, neutral or evil.

dalenvec
08-07-2008, 10:33 AM
Will I hate myself tomorrow if I eat the cookie that prostitute is offering?

I dunno if that would even fall under the good or evil spectrum, but thats just me. I dont consider it an evil act, maybe chaotic(or lawful depending on the society). For all you know they could be a priestess/worshiper of like Sune(FR) or somthing, and it falls in their religion.
i think its a common missconception that good has to look down apon those who maybe forced into a profession such as prostitution, or even those who choose it. even using their services, i dont think constitutes an act that would break a paladins vows(unless said paladin took a vow of chastaty), at least when it comes to the good side of things(and depending on the deity).
Now helping the girl by showing kindness or helping her out of that situation is a good act; and i think not judging that person is the most important thing, even if you think it a bad thing.

and to look at it another way, you pay for it any way; just minus the commitment, the nagging and the possibility of childrearing, but thats just me :D

DMMike
08-07-2008, 12:15 PM
Um, dalenvec, who said the prostitute was female? Apparently you haven't been to the Red Golem District.

There's a <snark> in there somewhere.

dalenvec
08-07-2008, 02:34 PM
Red Golem District, lol

Could be male too, gods knows we cant discriminate gender wise any more.
still isnt evil; and it would be a good act to help him out.

and hey there's female paladins who need love to right ;)?

Webhead
08-07-2008, 03:37 PM
[thread drift]It's the 8-year-old prostitutes with stiff work-ethics that you have to watch out for! If you see one, just walk right on by...you'll save yourself time and sanity...[/thread drift]

Okay, where were we again?...:D

tesral
08-10-2008, 01:54 AM
What makes playing a good character fun?
Is it just roleplaying that make believe ideal of goodness?
Where do you draw the line at where good starts in your game?


I'll start with the last question. Game world rule. Good is Creation. That is the total description, make something that is good. Anything that increases the general happiness is a good act.

Now based on that it started get fuzzy. Why is good good? Well I think everyone likes to be seen as the Hero. Positive feedback a good reputation and so forth. It's built into our culture.

I think I'll stop and revist this. What is fuzzy is my brain at 3:00 AM.

DMMike
08-10-2008, 12:17 PM
Please do revisit - because killing and murdering are particularly happy acts for those bad guys who go by the capital E for Evil. Also, making pens for slaves, hangman's nooses, and sacrificial altars fall under Creation. Or is there a difference with the capital C?

nijineko
08-10-2008, 04:15 PM
i think that most systems of good take into account the purposes and intent of the person taking an action. despite someone building a destructive implement technically being "creative", if the intent is to use it for evil, then it is still counted as evil... for that person. now a scientist who is trying to prove that energy can be liberated from atoms, purely as a search for knowledge, that can be good/creative... but the uses to which it is put might not be so.

tesral
08-10-2008, 04:16 PM
Please do revisit - because killing and murdering are particularly happy acts for those bad guys who go by the capital E for Evil. Also, making pens for slaves, hangman's nooses, and sacrificial altars fall under Creation. Or is there a difference with the capital C?

Sophises have a field day with intent. Happy isn't creative. Being happy makes nothing. So happy is outside of Good/Evil.

Making a noose isn't evil, it is a greater order, a very small good. Taking a life with it is evil, a great evil.

It points out that even the most vile beings do not do 100% evil. Even the most pure Good do not do all good.

Philosophically cooking a meal is fought with dichotomies.

nijineko
08-10-2008, 04:33 PM
again, it really comes down to what is good and what is evil and what is neither? and over that argument, adventures, parties, campaigns, countries, religions and worlds have risen or fallen.

a lot of it is context. what is good in one context is not so good in another. for examples: helping someone else is generally considered good. unless they are committing an evil act, in which case, helping them is generally considered bad.

bowling a strike, or not, can generally be considered neither good nor evil.

it's when people say that this set of rules (insert set of rules here) are the only right set of rules, following them is good, not doing so is bad, and now lets make everyone else do the same... that's when the problems start happening.

even amongst ourselves we cannot agree upon what is right and good, and what is bad and evil. and what is neither or unaligned.

tesral
08-10-2008, 07:30 PM
again, it really comes down to what is good and what is evil and what is neither? and over that argument, adventures, parties, campaigns, countries, religions and worlds have risen or fallen.

That is why, for the game I define it. And being that the game universe is mine, and being the all powerful DM of that universe I can declare what is right and proper, for the game.

nijineko
08-10-2008, 08:49 PM
my feelings precisely, sir! well stated, and i still think that is one of the better solutions available to all gms everywhere to resolve this particular thorn. state it up front and in advance, for all to see and know.

tesral
08-10-2008, 09:17 PM
my feelings precisely, sir! well stated, and i still think that is one of the better solutions available to all gms everywhere to resolve this particular thorn. state it up front and in advance, for all to see and know.

Not everyone will agree with my definition. But the beauty of that is they are the all powerful DM of their game and can declare good and evil to be what they think they should be.

I don't think the exact definition is as important as that you have one. For me this works. I have an unambiguous standard to judge good and evil by. No one has to wonder if the act is good or evil. they can look at the standard.

nijineko
08-15-2008, 02:17 AM
hm. funny. i seem to recall that that was supposed to be how it worked in this world too. but then, killing people and burning books and other similar civilized activities does have a slight inhibiting effect on the transmission of information from one generation to the next, ne?

DMMike
08-15-2008, 03:18 AM
I don't think the exact definition is as important as that you have one. For me this works. I have an unambiguous standard to judge good and evil by. No one has to wonder if the act is good or evil. they can look at the standard.

Totally. Have a definition, and stick by it, especially if it means a paladin's powers are at stake. A D&D DM isn't doing his job if the good-seeking characters of the game don't know what Good is (or can't find a way to figure it out).

But for those who are confused, I'll proffer my version again:
Good is behaving in a way that only benefits someone other than the behavor.

tesral
08-15-2008, 11:33 AM
Totally. Have a definition, and stick by it, especially if it means a paladin's powers are at stake. A D&D DM isn't doing his job if the good-seeking characters of the game don't know what Good is (or can't find a way to figure it out).

But for those who are confused, I'll proffer my version again:
Good is behaving in a way that only benefits someone other than the behavor.

I have a few problems with that. So someone that lives alone in the wilderness and takes care of themselves can never do a good act, but can easily do evil.

As to Paladins the standard is slightly different. They adhere to the ethos of the Church they are part of. It that ethos says to kill every mime they see, they slaughter away. Evil act it might be to kill the mime who hasn't even done walking in the wind at you, but the Will of God therefore you do it.



hm. funny. i seem to recall that that was supposed to be how it worked in this world too. but then, killing people and burning books and other similar civilized activities does have a slight inhibiting effect on the transmission of information from one generation to the next, ne?

Would be nice of people worshiping the same god would stop killing each other over the details of how. No one has ever claimed that man was a resonable creature.

Webhead
08-15-2008, 12:40 PM
I have a few problems with that. So someone that lives alone in the wilderness and takes care of themselves can never do a good act, but can easily do evil.

I think such a character could certainly enact "good" or "evil" in a given situation, it's just about choice at that point. Taking care of himself, if done in "balance" with his natural surroundings strikes me as more "neutral" territory, assuming he hunts and kills for food, shelter and survival. If he hunts for sport, he is verging closer on more selfish "evil" tendancies, and if he protects other creatures of the wilderness from those who seek to rape and pillage the land, then he is verging on "good" behavior.

It's about choices.


Would be nice of people worshiping the same god would stop killing each other over the details of how. No one has ever claimed that man was a resonable creature.

Aye. I think most of this has to do with not wanting to admit to the possibility of being "wrong". "You do not think like I think and I can't be wrong, therefore, you are wrong and I must make you realize it." Senseless and tragic.

DMMike
08-15-2008, 01:10 PM
So someone that lives alone in the wilderness and takes care of themselves can never do a good act, but can easily do evil.

I think webhead has a good grip on this issue. Living in the wilderness, more or less like the animals, is pretty much neutral, like the animals. You do some good, you do some evil, things balance out. If you really want an example of a Good act in the woods under my definition of Good, it would be feeding other animals, defending young from predators, or singing to the trees (instead of to yourself. I mean come on, why would you sing "Life is a Highway" to yourself?).

By the way, my definition of Good creates some interesting behavior on the part of Good creatures (angels, avatars, holy ghosts, and how could I forget - celestial summons). These creatures don't attack any living beings. Soulless and Evil creatures are fair game, but attacking a hair on a living head is Evil, and thus, not allowed. Defense, however, is. A celestial summoned creature won't engage an opponent, but it will wait by or near its charge, in case an enemy is foolhardy enough to commit an evil act. (This is a bit of two wrongs make a right, but necessary to make summoning practical for good-leaning casters).

Other interesting Good creature behaviors - self sacrifice (life, limb, or otherwise), no need to feed selves (eating is evil, but planar creatures don't need to eat), they talk like Terminators, since social engagement tends to be a source of pleasure...sounding sort of Puritan, huh?

DMMike
08-28-2008, 07:57 PM
:brick:
So there's a glaring problem with my last definition of Good. Probably a good thing that I found it first.

Good can't be intent to benefit others without benefitting the self. Because someone else's benefit could be an evil thing.

Example: Joe Paladin acted completely selflessly and in the interests of his friend, Barry Beholder, when he slaughtered the orphanage that was crying so much it kept Barry awake at night.

This led me to a new definition:
Good - noun - the quality possessed by someone or something that seeks to preserve others' lives at all costs.

I think this pretty clearly encompasses the typical Good acts: self-sacrifice, defense of others, helping Grandma across the street.
It does not cover non life or death issues, like returning a stolen purse. Which is probably a good thing, because in that particular example, returning a purse might not always be a good deed because:
- maybe the thief needed to feed his kids.
- or the purse's owner was an embezzler
- or by returning the purse, you were expecting a reward.

Anyway, this new definition raises a slight dilemma: Evil seems to be more than just the opposite of Good, or "the quality possessed by someone or something that seeks to cause death at all costs." I have a solution for that too, but first, feel free to discuss.

tesral
08-28-2008, 09:59 PM
Too extreme. In both cases. If there is a problem with the definition, there is a problem.

Perhaps good can be as simple as the golden rule.

I've never considered good to be something that was difficult and inaccessible to the average person, or that you must wallow in sack cloth and ashes, or be utterly selfless.

Good can be as simple as wishing well to each and every person you meet. Treating as you would be treated, offering aggression to no one.

DMMike
08-28-2008, 11:21 PM
Well, my new Good definition has some accessibility. It's easy enough for Joe Schmo (or Joe Paladin) to give money/food to the poor, stand up for the weak, or procreate (with the lights off and maybe a full-body sheet to prevent personal enjoyment). These are Good acts by my new definition.

I don't think the Golden Rule cuts it. Some people would like others to steal from the king and give it to themselves. The Golden Rule would then dictate that those people steal from the king, and give it to others. Does that make stealing good? Does it mean that the king deserves to see his taxes stolen, or that rich nobles need to receive the king's stolen taxes? Very gray areas, and I'd say, not necessarily Good acts.

The goal of defining Good is to have something that stands up to scrutiny, that is objective, and that makes a decent material from which to compose a Good plane of existence. My hope, and the point of this discussion, is to see if "promoting life" cuts it.

tesral
08-29-2008, 01:32 AM
Well, my new Good definition has some accessibility. It's easy enough for Joe Schmo (or Joe Paladin) to give money/food to the poor, stand up for the weak, or procreate (with the lights off and maybe a full-body sheet to prevent personal enjoyment). These are Good acts by my new definition.

I don't think the Golden Rule cuts it. Some people would like others to steal from the king and give it to themselves. The Golden Rule would then dictate that those people steal from the king, and give it to others. Does that make stealing good? Does it mean that the king deserves to see his taxes stolen, or that rich nobles need to receive the king's stolen taxes? Very gray areas, and I'd say, not necessarily Good acts.

The goal of defining Good is to have something that stands up to scrutiny, that is objective, and that makes a decent material from which to compose a Good plane of existence. My hope, and the point of this discussion, is to see if "promoting life" cuts it.


stealing is aggression. Do you wish to be agressed against? It only doesn't work if you twist the meaning. Twisting the meaning is not in the spirit or the letter of the principle.

Try these few simple suggestions

"As you would wish that men would do unto you, do so to them."
First corollary of the golden rule; Your right to swing you arm ends at the other fellow's nose.

Each man demands his rights, as well he should. But if each man gave those rights to each of his fellow men, then none would need demand anything, and we would live in peace. In truth, it is better to give than receive

Do not in your haste to do right, forget to do good.

No being has the right -- under any circumstances -- to initiate force against another being, nor to advocate, threaten or delegate its initiation.

Good defined.

DMMike
09-02-2008, 03:37 PM
No being has the right -- under any circumstances -- to initiate force against another being, nor to advocate, threaten or delegate its initiation.

Good defined.

For argument's sake then, these are not good acts by your definition:
1 pushing someone out of the path of a speeding car
2 putting a serial killer behind bars
3 reaping grain
4 subduing an attacker
since each of these examples involve force of one being on another. By my new definition, 1 and 4 are Good, and 2 and 3 are implicitly, but not explicitly, Good.

I'm working at providing something that doesn't rely on the spirit of the rule, since spiritual interpretation is completely subjective. I've noticed that I can easily decide what I think is a good action, but others might not agree with me, which tells me that talking about Good requires a common definition beyond gut instincts.

raven21
09-02-2008, 05:26 PM
Not everyone will agree with my definition. But the beauty of that is they are the all powerful DM of their game and can declare good and evil to be what they think they should be.

I don't think the exact definition is as important as that you have one. For me this works. I have an unambiguous standard to judge good and evil by. No one has to wonder if the act is good or evil. they can look at the standard.

I agrre with you that good is a preception and that makes it easer to be good for the most part, being unrelentingly holy good is still hard.

tesral
09-02-2008, 08:20 PM
since each of these examples involve force of one being on another. By my new definition, 1 and 4 are Good, and 2 and 3 are implicitly, but not explicitly, Good.


You are making a common mistake of equating any force with "initiate force". Initiate means "To start" So another way of looking at that is no one has the right to start something. The Zero Aggression Principle has no probations against defense. Once someone starts something they deserve what they get back.

1 pushing someone out of the path of a speeding car Could be considered starting something but once the circumstances are known, I think they will forgive you.

2 putting a serial killer behind bars: They started it. No problem.

3 reaping grain: Grain is not a person, grain has no rights. Grain is property, if yours you have every right to reap it.

4 subduing an attacker: They started it, they get what you you dish, not a problem.

Each of your examples comes from misunderstanding the principle, or even trying to twist the principle to mean something else, in other words rules lawyering.

nijineko
09-02-2008, 09:46 PM
niji eyes the discussion, and decides to stay out. while this one agrees with tesral, the examples this one would bring to the table, would likely inflame a heated response, from those who do not grasp, or agree with, the principle being discussed. ^^

DMMike
09-02-2008, 10:09 PM
niji eyes the discussion, and decides to stay out. while this one agrees with tesral, the examples this one would bring to the table, would likely inflame a heated response, from those who do not grasp, or agree with, the principle being discussed. ^^

Boooo! :D

Tesral, in an indirect way, your definition is evolving, which is good. These are the changes I'm seeing-

"No sentient being has the right -- under any circumstances -- to initiate offensive force against another sentient being, nor to advocate, threaten or delegate its initiation."

However, I still see some problems cropping up. Putting a serial killer behind bars is not inherently a good act. It is closely related to defending others, which is an inherently good act. But putting someone behind bars is closer to the Two Wrongs Make a Right principle, which some would call Good, others would call Evil.

Rules lawyering would actually make this subject a lot simpler. Not possible though, because the rules on Good and Evil, if any, are too ambiguously worded to be lawyerable.

tesral
09-02-2008, 11:36 PM
Boooo! :D

Tesral, in an indirect way, your definition is evolving, which is good. These are the changes I'm seeing-

"No sentient being has the right -- under any circumstances -- to initiate offensive force against another sentient being, nor to advocate, threaten or delegate its initiation."

However, I still see some problems cropping up. Putting a serial killer behind bars is not inherently a good act. It is closely related to defending others, which is an inherently good act. But putting someone behind bars is closer to the Two Wrongs Make a Right principle, which some would call Good, others would call Evil.

Rules lawyering would actually make this subject a lot simpler. Not possible though, because the rules on Good and Evil, if any, are too ambiguously worded to be lawyerable.

Ambiguous words are a lawyer's favorite lunch.

The original wording isNo human being has the right -- under any circumstances -- to initiate force against another human being, nor to advocate, threaten or delegate its initiation. --The Zero Aggression Principle

Many proper acts are not necessarily "good" acts. Putting a bullet into the brain of a serial killer is not a good act, but it needs to be done to keep them from doing further harm and only justice for the harm they have done. To quote Mr. Gilbert: "A Policeman's lot is not a happy one."

I consider self defense necessary, not necessarily good. This is one reason I prefer to peg good as a creative act. This however does not make anything not good, "evil". One reason I really do not like black and white morality. B&W does not reflect the world in any meaningful way.

In My Game Paladins are not "Good", they are protectors of the church to which they belong. They can be swaggering, tin-plated bastards if indeed that is what the ethics of the church call for. They can be humble, self sacrificing impoverished monks. They follow the ethics of the church, not concepts of good or evil. So Paladin does not equal Good, it equals a Paragon of the Church. And that is frankly easier to deal with.

nijineko
09-05-2008, 10:09 PM
Many proper acts are not necessarily "good" acts. Putting a bullet into the brain of a serial killer is not a good act, but it needs to be done to keep them from doing further harm and only justice for the harm they have done. To quote Mr. Gilbert: "A Policeman's lot is not a happy one."

idic: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

DMMike
09-06-2008, 11:36 AM
I'm wondering where and how to draw a line on an act's level of goodness, or through the set of [all actions]. Do you draw it in the middle, resulting in a black and white world? Or make a cut for good meets neutral, and one for neutral meets evil...Which such a division you could say that saving a life is a Good act, but maybe saving a life because you were ordered to falls in the Neutral or Evil category.

Kinda harsh to leave it to DM's discretion, because then pious characters would have a hard time deciding how to be pious. But then, what god was ever unambiguous?

The other need for drawn lines comes from rules elements, like detection spells.

So bipolar scheme could look like:
Consideration for others-------------/----------Or Lack Thereof

Or a more continuous scheme:
Creative acts----/----Non-creative acts-----/---Destructive Acts

I'd like to use something like:
Promoting Life----/---Not promoting Life---/---Promoting Death

but Life isn't always what Westerners equate with the generic concept of Good.

Here's a mini-poll: would you call saving the life of the king, who routinely orders the murder of his political opponents, a Good act?

nijineko
09-06-2008, 05:45 PM
it has multiple ramifications. saving a life can be good. saving a life that will destroy many other lives can be bad. again, context and circumstances change whether a given act is actually good or evil.

tesral
09-06-2008, 11:05 PM
I'm wondering where and how to draw a line on an act's level of goodness, or through the set of [all actions]. Do you draw it in the middle, resulting in a black and white world? Or make a cut for good meets neutral, and one for neutral meets evil...Which such a division you could say that saving a life is a Good act, but maybe saving a life because you were ordered to falls in the Neutral or Evil category.

Kinda harsh to leave it to DM's discretion, because then pious characters would have a hard time deciding how to be pious. But then, what god was ever unambiguous?

The other need for drawn lines comes from rules elements, like detection spells.

So bipolar scheme could look like:
Consideration for others-------------/----------Or Lack Thereof

Or a more continuous scheme:
Creative acts----/----Non-creative acts-----/---Destructive Acts

I'd like to use something like:
Promoting Life----/---Not promoting Life---/---Promoting Death

but Life isn't always what Westerners equate with the generic concept of Good.

Here's a mini-poll: would you call saving the life of the king, who routinely orders the murder of his political opponents, a Good act?

Yes it would be. You are not killing people and are not responsible for the King's actions. Your action was saving a life. Saving a life would be good.

The above dilemma is one reason black and while systems that force you to be responsible for actions that are not your own don't work. No matter how many people the wicked King kills after you save his life, that is not your responsibility. That is the King's responsibility. No onus on you head.

Likewise, saving a life because you were ordered to. You don't have to obey the order. Orders do not shift the responsibility for the actual actions. If the orders are immoral, you have the moral duty to disobey them. You may face consequences you don't like, but the responsibility for your actions, ordered or not is still yours.

nijineko
09-07-2008, 02:42 PM
besides, just because a person has commited many murders in the past is no guarantee one way or another that they absolutely will murder again. saving the life or not is your choice. the only way that one could make a justified decision to allow said king to die, is if that one somehow had access to future knowledge or to absolutely accurate knowledge of what is happening inside the persons head. and even then, one must question by what authority one decides to deliberately allow another to die, when it was in their power to save.

Holocron
09-21-2008, 12:52 AM
This is an interesting discussion, it seems like "good" is something thats not so easy to define. I guess its hard to agree on what constitutes "good" because because we all have different values. I have a few ideas about this though, but its just the way I see it.

I think its easier to recognize evil, because of the horror involved. Its not enough to say life is good, and death is bad, because there are several possible causes of death. If a kind honest person is murdered, we would probably agree that the murderer did something evil. Imagine the same kind honest person died from drowning, say while attempting to save the life of someone else who was drowning. The guy was attempting to save someone's life, so we would see him as heroic. His death was caused by drowning though, so we can't really say that the water was evil because it drowned him. The water is innanimate, so it justs exists, it can't choose to do good or bad.

Return to the first example, the person who murdered the kind honest guy is evil, because he chose to kill someone for no reason. The victim was kind and honest, and people found him to be a pleasant guy and feel pain by the fact that he's gone. The point that someone made a conscious decision to kill him, is what adds the horror to the situation and makes it evil.

Now suppose this murderer continues on killing more and more decent folk, and becomes addicted to it. He enjoys it and will do continue doing it if he has the chance. He's clearly doing evil, so it would be a heroic act or "good" to kill him. You're saving other decent people by killing the murderer. To quote Mace Windu: "He's too dangerous to be left alive!"

So in conclusion on that point, while I think killing in general is often going to end up in the "evil" catagory, it can become heroic under particular circumstances.

I heard a good description a few times about this. There's 3 broad types of people in this way. Sheep, wolves, and sheep dogs. Sheep represent most of the population, they're generally decent folk that work hard and contribute to society. Then there's wolves, the violent types who can't live peacefully in the society, and have to live by murdering and stealing from the defenseless sheep. The wolves know how to fight, but the sheep are afraid of fighting and won't defend themselves when credibly threatened by violence. Then there's sheepdogs, the sheep don't always like them very much because they look a lot like wolves, they have sharp teeth and claws and are good at fighting. But the sheepdogs love their sheep, and risk their lives to protect them, and hone their skills so that they'll be ready to fight when the wolves come around. Naturally, when the wolves come around and cause trouble, and the sheepdogs get rid of them, the sheep remember that its nice to have the sheepdogs around and love them again.

So saving a life or taking it, will be good or evil depending on the purpose. If the king murdered "good" or "decent" people, he's probably in the evil catagory, so it would probably be good to kill him, or even better overthrow his entire governmental hierarchy if its also corrupt like the king, and establish new leadership. If you knew the "evil" king was going to commit or "order" more murders, it would NOT be a good action to save him, because by saving him you would be allowing him to commit more evil acts. IF, you knew of a way to rehabilitate the king and make him into a good person, that might be better, because you're allowing him to atone for his crimes and to do good himself, but that would require a very high probability of success to justify the risk in my mind.

I don't think the bi-polar charts can always accurately describe good or evil, because its always situation dependant.

Consideration for others or kindness I think fits in the tendencies for good, but lacking consideration doesn't make you evil, it just makes you neutral. Causing harm to other people who are not evil is what makes you evil in my opinion.

Additionally, creation and destruction can't be inherantly good or evil either. Suppose your creation is a super-virus pandemic that has the potential to wipe out a million people in a week... you created life (sort of, a form of it anyway), but that creation is dangerous and only has use to do evil.

On the flip side, suppose your local coyote population is out of control and they've taken to eating your town's livestock and some of the people... Your neighbors are beginning to starve, and can't go work in the fields for fear of being attacked by coyotes. In response you form up a hunting party and destory 75% of the local coyote population. That should be a good thing because you're ending the suffering of your town, and now that the coyote population is back under control, other animals can increase in number again, the animal kingdom comes back into balance and the coyotes won't be starving either...

Another illustration, suppose there's a river that acts as the only source of fresh water for your town. The local innovator builds a dam thats supposed to control the water flow better and improve your farming because of a plan for irrigation... BUT, the dam doesn't quite work right and just blocks the flow of water completely, leaving your town dying of thirst, and the designer has a heart attack and dies before he can correct the problem... nobody else knows how to fix the dam, but you all know life was better without it. The dam was "created" but didn't bring any "good" to the people, and in fact brought unintended harm. "Destroying" the dam would be an act of good obviously because you're bringing water back to the people.

So... in final big picture conclusion, I think its hard to describe good and evil in simplistic absolute terms, but I think we can give guidance enough that we can probably all agree on "some" of the issues. Individual values play a role in people's opinions though, so you'll never find answers to specific questions that everyone in the world agree's on.

For gaming purposes, this is why I find it annoying to specify alignment, and prefer the GURPS system which leaves that out. You can put whatever alignment you want on your character sheet, but its the way that you play your character that determines "how" good or not you are. Pestering players for acts of charity or else they lose their "good" alignment status is annoying, which is another reason I think its better to leave alignment unspecified. The way you play your character will speak for itself. The way GURPS is cool about this is that it doesn't specify alignment, it specifies personality traits. Things like: greed, miserly, glutton, bad temper, honest, truthful, sense of duty, compulsive behavior, phobias, impulsive, overconfident, pacifist, alcoholism, addiction, absent minded, bully, codes of honor, cowardice, gullible, lazy, shy...

I feel like the personality traits give you more of a feel for who your character is than alignment, and some of the traits seem good, some seem bad, but you can have pretty much any of the traits and still do good or evil. The traits may guide you in a particular direction, but they're really just guidance for good roleplaying.

Sorry if that was too long...

nijineko
09-21-2008, 04:47 PM
not at all. some interesting points, others i happen to disagree with, some i like a lot.

DMMike
09-22-2008, 11:37 AM
Well we need SOME sort of definition, because I'm starting to wonder what positive and negative energy are if they're not based on good and evil. It's beginning to look like the easy way is to say that "good" is of what your god approves, and "evil" is of what it doesn't. Or maybe Good is a faction of like-minded gods, and Evil the other faction. That could result in pos and neg planes, right?

Holocron
09-22-2008, 03:21 PM
DMMike, I have some conflicting ideas about defining good. I think in most real world monotheistic religions, its God's role to define good and evil, mortal man has no say in it. In polytheistic religions, take the greek gods or the chinese dieties for example, good and evil isn't really defined by them, because they fall on different levels of the good and evil spectrum as well.

For game purposes, I think its best to develop and idea of what constitutes good and evil that transcends religion, because different religions will have different values. The servants of Cthulu will have conflicting values than the roman catholic church... it would be too confusing to say it depends on your religion, because then one person would be evil for killing someone in self defense, and someone else would be good for murdering an entire village and raping all the women and children... that would obviously be absurd.

I don't know what you mean about positive and negative energy... unless you're talking about holy vs demonic power or something like that. As a GM, I think its best to develop in your own mind what the guidelines are for good and evil, and make judgements on it depending on the situation. There's no way to define it absolutely, because there's always a way to find a situation thats complicated.

Also, I would NOT provide the definition to the players. We all know at an ambiguous level at least what constitutes good and evil, so if they're trying to be good, they'll know what they should be doing. If they're not sure, the right thing for them to do would be find someone in game they respect and ask for advise.

Being "good" should take active effort. If a "good" player isn't activey trying to improve their standing on the good /neutral /evil scale, I'd have to question their right to claim "good" status. Maybe not push them down to neutral, but I might start casually describe them as "good" with neutral tendencies...

However, in my opinion, the best thing to do is NOT define good as I mentioned earlier, and give the "good" players tough moral decisions, so that they're forced to think hard about what the right thing to do is. If they're wishy washy in their convictions, try to lead them astray!

I do this all the time in Star Wars. I give my jedi players tough decisions, where doing the "right" thing is inconvenient, or will outright put them in a position of disadvantage. This way, the dark side really is the quick and easy path, and the light side is tough, and takes a lot of effort and sacrifice.

nijineko
09-22-2008, 06:03 PM
Well we need SOME sort of definition, because I'm starting to wonder what positive and negative energy are if they're not based on good and evil. It's beginning to look like the easy way is to say that "good" is of what your god approves, and "evil" is of what it doesn't. Or maybe Good is a faction of like-minded gods, and Evil the other faction. That could result in pos and neg planes, right?

very interesting point. can the ideas of positive and negative energy planes exist independant of the concepts of good and evil?

thinking about it for a bit here is a very short incomplete list of some traits of the planes in question:

growth/decay
healing/damaging
light/dark
cooperative/independant (implied traits)

i'm thinking that these might be able to exist outside of good and evil.

Grumpy Old Man
09-23-2008, 11:06 AM
I feel like Justice Potter Stewart in 64 when they had the pornography case in front of the supreme court. He said, "I can't define pornography but I know it when I see it." or words to that effect, it was a long time ago and I have slept since then. I can't define good but I know it when I see it. All I can say is how I play it and that is with the best interests of the party and innocent NPC's as the guide to my behavior. To do no harm and be generous with my time, goods and fighting arm for their benefit and not my characters benefit.

tesral
09-23-2008, 11:45 AM
I feel like Justice Potter Stewart in 64 when they had the pornography case in front of the supreme court. He said, "I can't define pornography but I know it when I see it." or words to that effect, it was a long time ago and I have slept since then. I can't define good but I know it when I see it. All I can say is how I play it and that is with the best interests of the party and innocent NPC's as the guide to my behavior. To do no harm and be generous with my time, goods and fighting arm for their benefit and not my characters benefit.

It falls into my tinkerer nature that to properly design the universe, you need to define it.

Conversely, the average person (in the game world) is going to define "good" as you have above. Good is what they or their religion defines as good, and likewise evil.

However "Almight Ghodd the DM" needs something a little more concrete.

DMMike
09-26-2008, 03:17 PM
Today's Two Cents:
The more I think about it, the more Good starts to mean "something of which I approve." The speaker, in this case, is anyone. It's totally subjective. I guess that would make Bad the opposite, and possibly make Evil the Intentional Opposite. The interesting conclusion is that these definitions make popular opinion of Good almost entirely religion-related. A cultural phenomenon, if you will.

The roleplaying translation is that Good game mechanics become relative to the gods' interpretations. In D&D: Protection from Good becomes Protection from Comrades. And the Positive Energy Plane isn't a plane of Goodness, or even Good creatures, but a plane that links the planes of gods who endorse in healing and life, and the creatures that follow those gods (who happen to be listed as Good).

Now I'm thinking about adjudicating a Detect Good spell as one that shows who's your friend in the area, or possibly anyone leaning toward the faith of the god you follow.

nijineko
09-26-2008, 04:59 PM
i took a simplified approach. the privacy of a person's mind is inviolate, with the few exceptions. detection spell's function is predicated upon Contracts. individuals make such agreements with beings of power. it takes the nature of an exchange. each gets something that they want. in the case of the character, it usually involves power. thus a detection spell will only find the presence or absense of Contracts. protection spells function similarly.

Holocron
09-28-2008, 03:10 AM
Hmm... I don't want to tell you how to run your game, but I don't see how relative points of view and a subjective approach is really accurate. As I eluded to earlier, by that definition a serial killer who worships the god of murder could have a good alignment, because his religion approves of murdering anyone you can... Even a lot of serial killers acknowledge that they are evil, and if they are set free they will do evil again... Or, you can have sociopaths, who will steal and cheat or kill anyone and don't see it as wrong because other people "don't really matter", its all about themself.

There's a lot of actions that pretty much the entire world frowns upon, regardless of the culture, stealing, murder, rape.. to name the obvious ones... These actions are recognized as evil, regardless of culture, so you can't really say it depends on religion, because evil or demonic religions may approve of it.

I see the detect good spell having the same issue. I don't think its meant to be transformed into a detect "friends" spell. I think its meant to give you an idea of the number of people with "good" alignment in the area. Good aligned people may use it to find help when they're in trouble, evil people may use it to find their enemies and who to target next for murder...

This is why I disagree with connecting "good" individually with people's religion for game purposes... because you won't always have consistency about what constitutes "good" among players... and you're inviting rules lawyering for alignment issues.

Also, what if the person's character is agnostic? Does that mean he can only have neutral alignment? Or does that automatically give him good or evil??

My recommendation is give vague guidelines about what constitutes good neutral and evil, regardless of religion or culture... that way alignment is standardized, and as the GM you maintain control of judgement about alignment. The system can't be abused because a system hasn't been clearly defined. As the GM you maintain control of interpreting players' actions.

Those are my ideas if characters need to declare alignment... personally, I think its better to not even bother writing that down, and let the character's actions speak for their alignment. I'm not familier with D&D, but maybe the system needs alignment defined... so that spells like "detect good" will work right.

I'm glad I mainly play GURPS and starwars... defining alignment is too much of a pain...

tesral
09-28-2008, 03:15 AM
I'm glad I mainly play GURPS and starwars... defining alignment is too much of a pain...

Agreed, that is why I dump it like a psychotic S.O. Yo will always find a rules layer that will try and twist your definition around to their favor. Better to not have them. D&D plays just as well, if not better without alignment.

DragonDM
09-28-2008, 03:50 PM
To paraphrase the incredible Jack Kirby: "We believe in heroes because, ultimately, we believe in ourselves."
I think people are so drawn to heroes and the "heroic" because we would like to think that somewhere, deep down, we have the ability to cling to something good even in the midst of a world full of gray. It is so easy to make the "wrong", selfish choices, and we would like to think that we can have the strength of character to make the "right", selfless choices when it really counts.
It is a role playing challenge in its own way to play "good". You have to make tough moral choices pertaining to the fates of those other than yourself. You have to think beyond yourself and your own desires and work for the betterment of others. You have to risk your well-being to inspire hope and courage and to protect those who cannot protect themselves. You have to accept the idea that you will do what you do not for reward or reknown, but out of a sense of responsibility and duty. It is irresponsible for you not to take a stand for others. If you don't do it, who will?
I find playing "good" fun because I like exploring these ideas. I like playing the guy who stands before the demonic legions as says, "No! I will not let you hurt a single soul...even unto my dying breath!" That dramatic heroism is a lot of fun to play for me. I think it's fun because it is dramatic and not something that you see in "real life" that often. The idea that some people will not crumble and betray their sensibilities in the face of adversity or mortality.
That said, I don't always play characters of that sort. It is fun to explore other personality types as well. But when all is said and done, even my more "neutral" or "selfish" characters have at least a spark of goodness somewhere within them that will manifest under the right kinds of circumstances. I don't play characters without a conscience...good, neutral or evil.

Webhead –
You have hit upon the essence of what I tend to view as Good. I only add a few things:

Love is good. Just because your a good person, does not mean that you have to be passive. I dare you to threaten the child of a loving mother. And her killing that threat is not evil; But her plotting to slowly torture the person behind the threat before killing them would be evil.

Hate is Evil. More then just Power without Control it's “Concern for self over all others” to quote Harry Dresden.
Justification does not change the fact that your Character preforms and Evil act. It's the fact that they must face that choice, and accept the consequences for having done it.

To me, the best Characters are those that still retain some measure of both Good and Evil within them:
Where their very existence can damn or redeem them.

I'll revisit this thread, and perhaps post a few more comments as I can get the time to read through it.

DMMike
09-29-2008, 02:18 PM
As I eluded to earlier, by that definition a serial killer who worships the god of murder could have a good alignment, because his religion approves of murdering anyone you can... Even a lot of serial killers acknowledge that they are evil, and if they are set free they will do evil again.

There's a lot of actions that pretty much the entire world frowns upon, regardless of the culture, stealing, murder, rape.. to name the obvious ones... These actions are recognized as evil, regardless of culture, so you can't really say it depends on religion, because evil or demonic religions may approve of it.

I see the detect good spell having the same issue. I don't think its meant to be transformed into a detect "friends" spell. I think its meant to give you an idea of the number of people with "good" alignment in the area. Good aligned people may use it to find help when they're in trouble, evil people may use it to find their enemies and who to target next for murder...

This is why I disagree with connecting "good" individually with people's religion for game purposes... because you won't always have consistency about what constitutes "good" among players... and you're inviting rules lawyering for alignment issues.

Also, what if the person's character is agnostic? Does that mean he can only have neutral alignment? Or does that automatically give him good or evil??

The serial killer wouldn't have a Good alignment, since under my last proposal, Good and Evil are subjective. My guess is that the reason serial killers go around killing people is because they don't see anything wrong, or evil, about it.

Stealing, murder, and rape, are only evil in context. Don't forget to realize the context in which you're viewing them (lawful, modern society). Stealing is viewed as good by the poor, murder is viewed as good by soldiers, and rape is viewed as good by conquerors subduing heathens.

Detect good, if it acted the way you suggest, Holocron, would lead to a lot of unhappy clerics if they cast it in the middle of a religious war. Most combatants in such a case are out to kill, which is objectively evil (but not subjectively). But trust me, both sides think they're fighting for good.

The Good consistency is this: who's on my side, and who's not? That's really what it boils down to from a subjective angle.

The agnostic character doesn't have to worry about Detect Evil (Good), because it's a cleric spell (in D&D). You're not going to be a cleric without getting divine magic from a divine entity. If there is an agnostic one, it'll probably have an opinion on what's Good and what's Evil.

Holocron
09-30-2008, 04:57 AM
Ahh ok, I see... so the serial killer would only have good alignment from HIS religion's point of view. So on HIS character sheet, he would have good alignment, but from other people's points of view who don't approve of his killing, he would be evil...

I dunno... this may be something we'll have to agree to disagree about... if you've seen some interviews of serial killer rapists, you may notice that several of them admit that what they did was evil. They know its wrong, and admit that if they were released from prison, they would do it again. So then, even from these guys own points of view, they are admittedly evil.

Hmm, wow, and I thought my method of giving guidelines with grey areas was confusing...

I can see what you're saying about context, but I still disagree. Individual points of view may in some cases change a person's attitude about just HOW wrong a wrong action is, but in my opinion doesn't change the fact that its still wrong.

In the stealing example, I don't think poor people or even thieves see stealing as "good". Because thieves still feel like its evil when people steal from them, and poor people may feel guilty about stealing, even though they know its the only option they see for survival. The situation forces them to do something against their morals, but doesn't make it a good action, and doesn't clear their conscience.

I can tell you straight up that NO true soldier views murder as good. But, I guess this relies on the attitude that murder is a specific subcatagory of killing. If you kill a wolf that was about to eat your neighbor's daughter, its not murder. If you kill the serial killer rapist that was about to behead a decent guy, its not murder, it was a necessary death to save other people's lives. Subjectivity has nothing to do with making it good or evil.

Any conquerer who knowingly uses rape as a tool for his conquest, by definition can't have good alignment. Really, who would dispute this?

Personally I don't really care if a bunch of clerics became unhappy if they realized that some of their friends were actually evil, and some of their enemies were actually good. Then they would see the truth; that there's good and evil on both sides! And plus, what good cleric goes to war?! These guys should be promoting peace!

If all it boils down to is "who's on my side, and who's not?", then I ask possibly for a second time, wouldn't that give EVERYONE good alignment?? At least from their own point of view, everyone could have "good" written down. I don't really see "good" anywhere in your descriptions, I just see evil with something nice like religion as an excuse to justify it.

Like I said though, I don't want to tell you how to run your game, so you should do what works for you, and I'm certainly going to run mine in a way thats consistent with the point of view that my players and I share. I could never run alignment, or issues of morality subjectively as you describe, but I don't expect everyone to agree with me either.

DMMike
09-30-2008, 02:35 PM
I can tell you straight up that NO true soldier views murder as good. But, I guess this relies on the attitude that murder is a specific subcatagory of killing. If you kill a wolf that was about to eat your neighbor's daughter, its not murder. If you kill the serial killer rapist that was about to behead a decent guy, its not murder, it was a necessary death to save other people's lives. Subjectivity has nothing to do with making it good or evil.

Any conquerer who knowingly uses rape as a tool for his conquest, by definition can't have good alignment. Really, who would dispute this?

If all it boils down to is "who's on my side, and who's not?", then I ask possibly for a second time, wouldn't that give EVERYONE good alignment?? At least from their own point of view, everyone could have "good" written down. I don't really see "good" anywhere in your descriptions, I just see evil with something nice like religion as an excuse to justify it.

If you kill a wolf that was about to eat your neighbor's daughter, I'm pretty sure the wolf's family (pack) would consider you the scum of the earth. The wolf was just trying to survive. Same thing goes for intelligent creatures. Do suicide bombers consider themselves evil? They're out to murder, after all. But they consider themselves the holiest of holy, because they're making the ultimate sacrifice for their oppressed peoples who simply don't have options remaining.

The point about the conquering army doing the raping isn't necessarily to call rape a good act, but just to introduce the idea that it's not universally evil. I'm pretty sure that in prior millenia, armies commonly raped, pillaged, and took for slaves anyone on the losing side. This knowledge didn't cause soldiers to abandon their armies in droves because they were doing evil things. It was actually considered a reward. Think about it.

As far as everyone having a good alignment, maybe Einstein can help us here. Say you're on a chariot, approaching the speed of light. A stationary centurion, say at the end of the furlong, has a wrist-mounted sundial. When you pass his position, and announce immediately, "I'm Good!" he will notice, after some simple calculations, that your sundial seemed to be stopped as you passed by. Stopping time is witchcraft, and he would thus determine you to be evil, instead of good.

Really though, once Good becomes relative, there's no point in putting it on a character sheet. Objectively good things in the game can be related to the deities and religions that are popularly viewed as Good, but they shouldn't be considered as having a Good-Evil alignment. Because it's all relative. Wouldn't it be nice for your paladin to be able to regulate on evil doers without having to cast Detect Evil on them first, just to be sure?

Holocron
10-01-2008, 03:17 AM
Your arguments make sense if you agree with relativistic "us vs them" mentality. Wouldn't you agree though that "true good" would be someone who first tries to negotiate with his enemies for peace before declairing them evil and killing them??

I still disagree, I think rape IS universally evil. I don't see a way to justify it no matter who's doing it to who. Just because the society accepted it as normal doesn't make it good, or even not evil... Look at the mid east before mohammad came along, or china before confucious. It was complete chaos and everyone knew it was full of evil, it was considered the norm, but people still thought it sucked. Confucious and mohammad introduced a motivation to act morally, and lawfully (not saying those are necessarily the same).

I do agree that annotating alignment on your character sheet is pointless, because you should play how you want, not how the rules say you should to keep your alignment.

And NO, I don't think it would be nice for a paladin to be able to freely kill without seeing if they're actually evil first. They should feel free to do it if they want, but if they're trying to do the right thing they should see if the person they're about to attack is actually a bad person or just an innocent caught in the crossfire... Things like that are why the military has rules of engagement... Personally, I think players should have to make tough moral decisions, if they're trying to claim that they're good... but we don't have to agree, I'm fine with you maintaining your point of view.

tesral
10-01-2008, 11:25 AM
The sheer amount of verbiage in this thread just reinforces my point about alignment.

One: The Alignment system has been debated to death. The books can clarify and explain until the damn bovines are dust, never mind come home, it changes not in the least the fact that people will argue the meaning those nine little phrases, and argue and ARGUE. In part I drop alignment because it unhinges those expectations. By not using the loaded phrases to describe anything, I remove them from contention, and hopefully open people to looking at my game as it is, not with the baggage they bring to it.

DMMike
10-01-2008, 11:28 AM
Holocron-
1 - You're a good sport.
2 - There might be a reason for middle-eastern and Chinese societies to want you to think that they were complete chaos and full of evil prior to their enlightened souls coming along. Do you recall what American settlers were told about native Americans in order to justify their pacification?
3 - Note that I said paladins "regulate," not "freely kill." The point was that evil is relative, and not something awaiting confirmation from a spell.

Webhead
10-01-2008, 11:50 AM
I think there is "relativistic good" and "absolute good" just as their is "relativistic evil" and "aboslute evil", but that's philosophy.

Alignment is much more a constriction to D&D than an inspiration. It stems from the human desire to label and categorize for ease of reference.

DragonDM
10-01-2008, 02:37 PM
Wow.

And I thought that the debates over "Evil" were charged with emotional feedback.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
I know that in RL USA History, all of the people involved did a lot of really bad things, and justified it in the name of The Greater Good.

(Note: The Pilgrims were perhaps the only group that did their best to be Good, and worked with the Native American Tribes that they found.
The Colonists of the late 1600s and early 1700s did some very evil things.
There were Native American Tribes that were just as bad.
And then there was the Wild West, which is what I focus on below.)

It is still my opinion that their actions were Evil; regardless of whether or not they were justified, or even legal.

But we Humans are emotional creatures, and once we get worked up, we can overreact to any given situation.

Only a few Tribes and Settlers were willing to try and work things out, but Politicians would then come in and behave exactly like the nice Settlers, but screw the Tribes over. And the Settlers were not able to do anything about it, because everyone else backed the Politicians.

And then there came the big Manifest Destiny movement across the Wild West, where the (white) poor tried to become rich as quickly as they could by creating a large enough Homestead. Most ended up working for the Railroads or Mines.

Next up, Cattle verses Buffalo. The Cattle industry has always been big.
But they require a lot of space to feed them. That space had to come from somewhere, and look - where the Buffalo roam is perfect for cattle.
Also, everyone knew that a lot of Native American Tribes depended on hunting the Buffalo to survive, and to the Buffalo were delaired a "pest" and everyone was encourage (and even rewarded) for killing them.
There are pictures of mounds of buffalo bones piled as high as a Barn's roof top. The sight of them still causes me sadness, and I can only imagine how a Native American person feels about it.

And then came the Gold Rush right on the heels of the Civil War and everyone tried to get rich quick - and the Government, as well as big business and their rich owners, got richer.

And then Oil. Black Gold.

Natural Resources could no longer be shared - and things got really nasty.

Several Native American Tribes got just as nasty as the Army and White Settlers, in killing each other. The desecration and defiling of the land offended them to no end. Soon, neither side was willing to really try and work things out where both sides would win.

And that's still not touching on the issues of Slavery, and not just of African Americans, but also of the Irish, the Chinese, and even those Whites that were too poor to be anything else.

Indentured Servitude, including to "The Company Store": Share Cropping: and Sweat Shops. All a form of Slavery.

How is the working of someone to litteral death: with no hope of freedom, or ever achieving anything of lasting value - not Evil ?

Anyone recall Company "Spanking Rooms"? - and what they were for?
Poor families would actually hire their children - boys and girls (some as young as the age of six) to the company in order to try and make ends meet. But, the company would impose the same standards upon these children that they did adults, while paying them [U]less then the adults made.

And when any child failed to meet those standards, the child was sent (or taken by their supervisor) to the Spanking Room. I won't go into all the details, but I will say that there was more then just spankings that happened in those rooms.

- How is this not Evil? Sure, it was allowed by the Law at the time - and it was "good' for the company and it's owner(s), but that does not make the actions themselves Good.

It is to prevent these kind of things from happening again that many current American Labor Laws were put in place.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
I note that no one responded at all to my "Good is Love" posting.

And keep in mind that Love does not always have anything to do with sex.
Sex without Love is just Lust. Love of a parent to a child; Love of a Sibling; Love of a friend; and Love between a Man and a Woman, even when they are seperated by miles. All are forms of Love.

I'm leaving the Seven Deadly Sins out of this debate, for the sake of avoiding the causing of even more sidetracking: since they are "religion" based.

So without religion to give us a guide, what can we look at for a reference as an example of "Fundamental" Good and Evil?

And without going to any extreme measure?

Humm - How about those things that all Religions agree on?
The Golden Rule can be found in every major Religion - though the exact wording might be different. Even those Religions that reject it, still acknowledge it.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
While I cannot expect anyone to agree with me, I still say that Good and Evil are outside of the Character's personal perspective.

Therefore it falls upon the DM to clearly define what is "Fundmentally" Good and Evil in their Games.

Justifying an action to one's self (or even to others) does not make that action Good.

Harvesting your crop is neither Good nor Evil - it is only survival.
Taking another person's crop is theft, and is Evil. Sure, your actions for survival may cause the crop owner to forgive you, but that does not change the fact that stealing their crop was Evil.

The Good thing for that 'thief' to have done, would have been to go to the crop's owner and offer to do work in exchange for enough to live on.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
In another site, I have had to argue that just because someone is not perfectly Good - does not mean that they are forced to change their Alignment, or to be Defrocked in the case of Clerics and Paladins.

A single act should not cause an Alignment change, unless it is extreme.

Anican Skywalker's (CG) (free spirited) defiance of the Jedi Laws did not make him Evil. After all, the Jedi are supposed to be proactive Paladins, not passive Monks.

Anican gave too much of himself to those he cared about: he Loved them with all his heart, and it was this - as well as his Hubris - that caused Anican's fall to the Dark Side. It was Anican 's Love and caring for his Mother, and his fear that he would lose her, and never see her again that Yoda sensed when Anican was first introduced to the Jedi Council.

Anican giving into rage and hate and killing all the Sand People when his mother died was Evil. But even this did not immediately cause an Alignment Change, because Anican still did everything else to oppose Evil where he found it.

Palapine used Anican 's love of Padme against him, to tempt Anican into joining Palpatine against the Jedi. Anican 's oath that made him a Sith caused not just a shift to Evil - because Anican accepted that he was going to do anything, no matter how wrong, to get what he wanted - but changed the normally Chaotic Good Anican Skywalker into the Lawful Evil Darth Vader.

But, Vader could not truly rid himself of those feelings, and it was his Love of his son, Luke, that redeemed Anican back to the Light Side.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
For those of you that actually read all this, I thank you.
I tend to get carried away when explaining things.

All of the above is my Opinion - only.

I'm a Human that is a Vulcan/Romulan hybred: I'm very logical, and yet passionate.
I also have the tendencies of a Gnome - always on the move, and tinkering with things.

DMMike
10-01-2008, 11:34 PM
I note that no one responded at all to my "Good is Love" posting.

So without religion to give us a guide, what can we look at for a reference as an example of "Fundamental" Good and Evil?

Humm - How about those things that all Religions agree on?
The Golden Rule can be found in every major Religion - though the exact wording might be different. Even those Religions that reject it, still acknowledge it.

I read it. You're welcome.

Love is notoriously poorly defined (or just badly abused), so that's why I won't touch Good is Love with a 10 foot pole.

You can look to your in-game god or religion for a reference on Goodness. That's a simple solution, but is effectively saying "good is what the DM says it is."

The Golden Rule is a pretty good standard, but starts to crumble when used by selfish people or people lacking empathy. Take this thought:

"I would have others forgive me when I bend rules and accumulate wealth and exploit their resources, so I'll do the same for them."

Doesn't quite result in Goodness, does it? You could rephrase the Golden Rule, and it would closely resemble my latest, most controversial description of Goodness:

"There are certain things of which I approve, and I would have others do these things to me. Thusly and therefore, I should do the things of which I approve to others."

tesral
10-02-2008, 01:26 AM
I
The Golden Rule is a pretty good standard, but starts to crumble when used by selfish people or people lacking empathy. Take this thought:

"I would have others forgive me when I bend rules and accumulate wealth and exploit their resources, so I'll do the same for them."

Doesn't quite result in Goodness, does it? You could rephrase the Golden Rule, and it would closely resemble my latest, most controversial description of Goodness:

"There are certain things of which I approve, and I would have others do these things to me. Thusly and therefore, I should do the things of which I approve to others."

The golden rule requires a few other rules as well, such as the First Corollary: Your right to swing your arm ends at the other fellows nose. Add in the Non Aggression Principle and I think you have the means to define a moral system one can reasonably call "good".

Selfish and otherwise bad people will twist the rules to mean what they want to justify themselves. That does not mean the rules don't work. More rules don't fix it.

And my point is being constantly proven.