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Grasharm
11-08-2008, 05:15 AM
Okay in the now missing forums that used to be on the wizards site then gleemax I had a thread that I started, then saved and referred to quite a bit. I'm hoping for a little help recreating it. The thread listed 4 or 5 questions that helped me flesh out a character's motivations and personality. Then another 7 or 8 situations where there was no "right" answer ,sometimes it was choosing the greater of two nearly equal goods, sometimes the lesser of two nearly equal evils. The answers to these dilemmas also gave a ton of information.

I'm hoping that you guys can provide some thoughts on this. Here is one dilemma I remember to get started with.

You ride into a village on your way to confront the Evil Cleric before she can make a human sacrifice and gain great power. A man is being beaten in the street by a noble screaming about the loss of a scared relic while a teenage girl screams from the opposite side of the street that he is inoccent. What do you do?
Do you continue on to confront the greater evil and come back knowing that any delay could spell disaster?
Do you stop and investigate the incident?
Do you simply beat the noble senseless ride off to confront the evil and come back to find out more afterwards?
None of the above. Explain.

Mindbomb
11-08-2008, 09:29 AM
Hero Builders Guide

Dimthar
11-09-2008, 02:39 PM
You ride into a village on your way to confront the Evil Cleric before she can make a human sacrifice and gain great power. A man is being beaten in the street by a noble screaming about the loss of a scared relic while a teenage girl screams from the opposite side of the street that he is inoccent. What do you do?

Do you continue on to confront the greater evil and come back knowing that any delay could spell disaster?.
Yes, "Greater Evil" is just an opinion. If accussed by a "Better" (Noble), the Peasant (Man) is probably guilty. Anyway, Saving a Life has a higher priority.

Do you simply beat the noble senseless ride off to confront the evil and come back to find out more afterwards?.
No way!. If it wasn't for the Evil Cleric, I'll help the Noble extract the "Truth" from the Thief (I mean the poor Man) ;) .

tesral
11-10-2008, 12:16 PM
Who am I? It really depends on the character. I can hoesntly say all of the above.

My currently played PC, Rapheal would intervene. That is not the way conflicts are handled. You don't just beat people in the street. "I've worked with the guard before, I'll handle this sir." Take the man down the street out of sight. "Look, I've got bigger fish to fry. If you're not here when the evil temple comes crashing down that's not my problem."

MortonStromgal
11-10-2008, 02:21 PM
Hero Builders Guide

also The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and Ultima IX (previous Ultima games may have had questions but I can't remember)

cplmac
11-11-2008, 09:14 AM
Stop the noble from beating the man. Ask what the sacred relic is, in case it has something to do with you primary mission. Ask who noble and peasant men are, in case one might be of assistance. Then be on your way.

The whole situation should not take that long of time as to make that much of a difference in time. Besides, if you are passing through a village, it would be wise to replenish any used items ( especially food for yourself and you mount if you have one) while the opportunity presents itself. You could also get a quick meal to keep from using up you trail supplies.

Total Nerd v2.135 (final)
11-11-2008, 03:01 PM
a lot of games have similar questions of ethical posture and moral priority to determine character alignment. to engineer ethical/moral dilemmas and their alignment shifts, the Hero Builder's Guidebook has a whole chapter with sample questions and sample answers which you could surely make variants of.
A 'relationship to community' or 'crime and punishment' alignment challenge would fit the bill.

Total Nerd v2.135 (final)
11-11-2008, 03:06 PM
Then another 7 or 8 situations where there was no "right" answer ,sometimes it was choosing the greater of two nearly equal goods, sometimes the lesser of two nearly equal evils. The answers to these dilemmas also gave a ton of information.

the 'right' answer depends on the kind of character you are trying to create/evolve. the answers will be shifts like (example) E+1, N+1, C+1, L,G,X etc....
you can even create your own, as i said, to be part of a campaign, and determine your own shifting paradigm.

GoddessGood
11-11-2008, 03:18 PM
Hmmm, I might want to take a look at adapting something like that for Exalted. Instead of alignments there are four Virtues which govern a character's behavior. They are Compassion, Conviction, Temperance and Valor. The highest rated of these four can provide benefits and drawbacks for the character. Virtues are rated 1 to 5, so the pluses and minuses would merely serve to get a feeling of which is more important to the character than to actually determine the rating.

Dimthar would get +1 Conviction for keeping to his quest, probably a -1 Compassion for not stopping to help the peasant.

Tesral's Rapheal would get +1 Compassion for getting the noble off the peasant's back, but -1 Conviction for stopping in the middle of his quest.

cplmac's response would get him -1 Conviction (he is stopping his quest to intervene), +1 Compassion (he stopped the peasant's suffering), +1 Temperance (he used the time to prepare wisely for the journey ahead).

cplmac
11-11-2008, 03:33 PM
...Dimthar would get +1 Conviction for keeping to his quest, probably a -1 Compassion for not stopping to help the peasant.

Tesral's Rapheal would get +1 Compassion for getting the noble off the peasant's back, but -1 Conviction for stopping in the middle of his quest.

cplmac's response would get him -1 Conviction (he is stopping his quest to intervene), +1 Compassion (he stopped the peasant's suffering), +1 Temperance (he used the time to prepare wisely for the journey ahead).


Whoo Hoo! I managed to come out on the plus side as opposed to breaking even. That is assuming that being on the plus side is good and on the negative side, bad.

Total Nerd v2.135 (final)
11-11-2008, 11:21 PM
you could also make a version involving the Four Vitreous Humours

Sanguine (Blood)
Choleric (Yellow Bile)
Melancholic (Black Bile)
Phlegmatic (Leukocytes)

to determine who plague-afflicted your character is :D

DungeonMaster
01-02-2009, 04:09 PM
I would havfe just came in swinging sword over head and yelling like a banshee and slain the Noble.....and the peasant.

InvestFDC
01-02-2009, 04:31 PM
Kill the teenage girl, screaming teenagers really get under my skin. Seriously, though, I might "accidentally" run over the noble with my horse as I galloped to dispatch the evil cleric. The noble will get over it since, being someone who kills evil clerics for a living, I'm not one to be f*cked with.:lol:

jade von delioch
01-02-2009, 05:45 PM
Background: where is the character from, does the character have family, where did the character learn their trade, any ememies, any friends from home, where did the character get his/her gear?
Appearance: what does the character look like, what type of dress, and any physical quirks?
Personality: what is the character's likes and dislikes, what is their moral code, do they have any goals, any personal beliefs, and any personality quirks?
Why does your character do what they do: why are they adventures or what not and what is the character's view point on the subject?

tesral
01-02-2009, 11:58 PM
Kill the teenage girl, screaming teenagers really get under my skin. Seriously, though, I might "accidentally" run over the noble with my horse as I galloped to dispatch the evil cleric. The noble will get over it since, being someone who kills evil clerics for a living, I'm not one to be f*cked with.:lol:

Hey, teenage girls have other uses.

Malruhn
01-03-2009, 10:33 PM
Cooking, washing... and training to be an uber-secretive ninja assassin that will take out the Emperor when he least expects it!!

Wait - is this one of those symptoms of playing D&D too much? I was supposed to be thinking of canoodling, wasn't I.... dang it...

DungeonMaster
01-03-2009, 10:52 PM
wait....what teenage kill are we killing?

lomifeh
01-04-2009, 01:43 PM
Well it depends, who is better looking the sacrificial victim or the teenager yelling ;).

Ok seriously. My last, an probably favorite, character of all time was a dwarf paladin. Larsi would probably have stopped the beating and found out what the relic was. Dealt with the Evil Cleric<tm> and then come back looking for the parties involved.

darthseb
01-04-2009, 03:05 PM
Hey, teenage girls have other uses.

My brother would say the same thing.

hueloovoo
01-04-2009, 03:52 PM
If you're really in a rush, why not call the city watch and let them deal with the local problem? Save you from getting in trouble for personally interfering with some noble, and also give the girl at least a chance to prove her own innocence. Not that I think medieval government was particularly fair, but hey, it buys her time if nothing else.

DungeonMaster
01-05-2009, 04:16 PM
or you get your rogue in the party to get some crazy sneak attack damage and have the rogue take the -4 on their attack roll and get a called shot on the noble since i believe the act of attacking the girl would make the noble lose his Dex bonus to his AC. Take the noble out with a pumped up sneak attack called shot and be the hero of the day

1958Fury
01-05-2009, 05:45 PM
There's a lot of creative ways you could solve it, especially for high level characters. Finding ways to capture or freeze the Noble and his victim, until you have time to come back and sort it out. Powerful spells like Time Stop could be involved, etc.

But I believe the question is meant to be more philosophical than that. It's not about finding a solution that takes care of both problems; it's about making the choice and what that choice says about your character.

You can't stamp the answers with an alignment. I think you could make either choice, and still find a way to justify it for any alignment. Personally, most of my characters would probably stop and sort out the situation with the Noble, even though larger quest is more dire. This is because most of my characters have more heart than brains, and couldn't pass up the chance to help someone right in front of them.

However, IMO, cold logic would be to to ride on past this situation and proceed to the Evil Cleric. After all, you don't know enough details about the situation with the Noble, and you don't have time to find out the details. Also, the main quest affects more lives than the situation in front of you. "The needs of the many" and all that.

But I don't tend to play logical characters.

hueloovoo
01-05-2009, 09:48 PM
I totally agree, logic is for the weak (hearted). If you can't let emotions make your decisions for you now and then, you might as well play a warforged. ^.^

tesral
01-05-2009, 11:54 PM
Which wouldn't be bad for a change.

akela122301
01-06-2009, 12:12 AM
I dunno, sometimes even a warforged yields to emotion. They DO have them, you know.

hueloovoo
01-06-2009, 02:25 PM
*lol* It was supposed to be a joke... I do feel for the plight of the warforged. ^.^

DungeonMaster
01-06-2009, 05:11 PM
::mourns for the warforged::

DMMike
01-07-2009, 09:51 AM
:focus:
Not to ruin the teenage girl/moral conundrum fun, but I think Grishwam (?) was looking more for questions than answers.

NPC question #2 (Primary motivator):
What does NPC X seek to maximize in most encounters? Money, cooperation, chaos, happiness, oppression, personal status, opportunities to drink, etc...


NPC question #3 (Unique trait):
What is it that makes NPC X non-average? Verbal quirk, strange appearance, unique accessory . . . ?

hueloovoo
01-07-2009, 11:33 AM
Here's a fairly cliche'd one, but one that I think holds up nonetheless:

In your rush to fight the good fight and save the world from some nameless evil bent on destroying everything, you come across a city/nation wherein slavery is legal. The ruling class is for the most part fair and just, excepting in that the rights of one group of people do not exist, they are treated as property to be exploited and destroyed on a whim. This group is the remnant of an invading force that would have done the same to the people of this city nation, had they but won the war.

Do you champion the rights of the downtrodden attackers? Do you ignore them to pursue the greater evil? Do you buy a few of the slave people yourself to free them/use them?

InvestFDC
01-07-2009, 02:05 PM
Do you risk your life to rescue one evil being while being tortured by another evil being?

What if you were certain to die but evil victim escapes?

DungeonMaster
01-12-2009, 01:26 PM
what if.....the teenage girl is the Evil Cleric and this noble had just captured her and has her under an anti-magic field and is beating the shit out of her because she deserves it.....now that changes things. What if you had done the blind good thing and saved the girl....HAHA!!

RGTraynor
01-21-2009, 05:34 AM
Well ... when it comes down to it, I hate alignment. I hate anything that looks like alignment. Alignment is possible THE single stupidest, illogical and anti-RP concept with which the wargamers who invented this hobby stuck us.

Even in the cookie-cutter campaigns where everyone plays (or claims to play) just as the module authors design ... they still disagree. Over and over again, the way they've done for decades. How much can you get away with and still be good? Hey, I did that to an Evil person, so I'm still Good. Yeah, I know I've done X number of evil deeds, but I've done 3x good deeds, so I'm still set. The king (chancellor, lord, headman, someone who looked important) said it was okay, so that was Lawful. He's an orc, isn't he, so it doesn't matter that I lied to him and betrayed him.

And so on. Ten times more people than actually play to any consensus concept try to argue, sometimes fantastically so, why their actions and RP really are in tune with their pet alignment. (And that almost always involves trying to justify a Good alignment. Why is that? How many times do you hear the CE fellow argue angrily that those weren't really *good* acts he was doing, and you shouldn't penalize him for it?)

I have never heard an adequate explanation of why it is necessary to stick RPGs with this system, nor why it can't be deleted from the vast majority of them.

That being said, in the instance of this particular example ... like other posters, my response would vary widely depending on the character I was playing. Some characters would have stopped the noble. Some wouldn't have cared. Some would have figured "Holy crap, you don't go around jumping nobles unless you're tired of life." One would've gone to the girl and offered to free the fellow from jail and geld the noble in his sleep for vengeance if she ... offered him enough. (Insert callous leer.) (Then again, said villainous character would at least live up to his end of the bargain if the girl lived up to hers; he stayed bought.)

And that being said, I don't second-guess GMs. I tired a long, long time ago of the syndrome where GMs bait and switch you with layered moral dilemmas. My characters don't, nor reasonably could, make the distinction between a chance encounter on the street and main plot twists. Truth be told, what most of them would really think is that getting the mission done was more important than haring off after moonbeams with much potential downside.

hueloovoo
01-21-2009, 06:07 AM
That's a very good point, and for the most part I agree with you. It seems to me like the main purpose of alignment is to sort of give beginning players a moral compass. Everybody practiced enough knows that a paladin will protect the innocent and weak, while a thief may care less what happens to some stranger. But beginning players don't always have enough experience to face the moral dilemmas without a basic set of guidelines that suggest likely actions. Once you start really understanding your character and her motives, alignment can and often does lose its meaning.

tesral
01-21-2009, 09:49 AM
Well ... when it comes down to it, I hate alignment. I hate anything that looks like alignment. Alignment is possible THE single stupidest, illogical and anti-RP concept with which the wargamers who invented this hobby stuck us.


I suppose it is time to post my alignment rant as a permanent part of my website. Something to do today.

RGTraynor
01-21-2009, 10:22 AM
It seems to me like the main purpose of alignment is to sort of give beginning players a moral compass. Everybody practiced enough knows that a paladin will protect the innocent and weak, while a thief may care less what happens to some stranger. But beginning players don't always have enough experience to face the moral dilemmas without a basic set of guidelines that suggest likely actions. Once you start really understanding your character and her motives, alignment can and often does lose its meaning.Mm, I strongly disagree. Beginning players don't come to the table without any knowledge of right vs. wrong. They're the products of our 21st century culture, and regardless of their personal moral codes, they can't be unaware of the codes professed by our societies and our religions. The most case-hardened gangbanger, no matter how much he might scoff, knows that the society regards stealing, murder, lying and violence as wrong and decrees punishments for them. Now individual D&D DMs might run their campaigns differently from the norm - the NastyBad NPC race there is de facto evil, so it's "Lawful Good" to exterminate them on sight - but you're not going to learn that from a two-letter tag anyway; you need to learn that from play, just like anyone else.

Beyond that, the only purpose of alignment is to use it as a stick to beat people for "violating" it. Why should beginning characters have a problem with moral dilemmas, after all, any more than anyone in the real world does? They do what they do, act how they act, and take - or duck - whatever consequences arise. If I decide that while my character plans to be nice to my friends and to non-offensive strangers, petty rules really don't concern me, what makes my decisions and gameplay more valid or less so just because a DM hangs a "CG" tag on me?

No. Alignment doesn't help roleplay; someone who wanted to play a nasty solipsist rogue would do so without the numbers, and someone who wants to play a hack-n-slash munchkin will pay the letters lip service at best. For everyone I've heard say how wonderful alignment is (hrm ... have I ever heard anyone say that?) I've heard fifty bitter debates from people feeling they've been screwed because of differences over the definitions.

--- Merged from Double Post ---

I suppose it is time to post my alignment rant as a permanent part of my website. Something to do today.Heh; I've saved a few, over the years. I could do a Why Alignment Sucks editorial with nothing more than cut and paste.

tesral
01-21-2009, 11:08 AM
Heh; I've saved a few, over the years. I could do a Why Alignment Sucks editorial with nothing more than cut and paste.

I've got mine down to cut and paste. Paste the majority of it then put in what ever comment needs to be made.

Edward
01-21-2009, 05:40 PM
Alignment is possible THE single stupidest, illogical and anti-RP concept with which the wargamers who invented this hobby stuck us.

I dislike alignment because it's a game term; it doesn't exist in the real world. I try to avoid any terms the characters wouldn't use; in my experience they usually just complicate play.

I don't see a real need for alignment in any case, because most characters will belong to a religion or (depending on the culture) a philosophy or honor system.

RGTraynor
01-22-2009, 12:23 AM
I don't see a real need for alignment in any case, because most characters will belong to a religion or (depending on the culture) a philosophy or honor system.Yup. Alright, there's a priest of the flame/war god in my campaign. The god promulgates a fairly strict and detailed Mercenaries' Code. Beyond the strictures of that honor code, which regulates conduct on the battlefield, the faith requires chastity outside a marriage bond, it's heavily anti-necromantic, and that people should live lives of moderation in all things. That's about it. He's judged - to the degree I do so - on how well he plays to those tenets. That "marriage bond" thing can be same-sex, group marriage, sibling marriage, what have you; there's no limitations whatsoever other than "you can't have sex outside of marriage" and "you better not use magic to coerce someone into it."

No doubt the alignment pushers would call that "Lawful Neutral," but it runs into a huge stumbling block out of the gate: which law? The church's? The mundane kingdom's, which just might not be nearly as free and easy as the faith about marrying your own daughter? Does law = black-letter legal codes or does law = acknowledged social custom? Eh. Too much work, too many headaches. I decided not to bother thirty years ago.

hueloovoo
01-22-2009, 06:13 AM
I dunno, I guess it doesn't bother me much because no one's ever really enalized me over it.

1958Fury
01-22-2009, 10:58 AM
I dunno, I guess it doesn't bother me much because no one's ever really enalized me over it.

I've been penalized over it before on a NeverWinter Nights server. The DMs on that server were extreme roleplay nazis, to the point that certain classes or races could only be played a certain way. Still, I didn't blame this on the alignment system itself, but rather on their strict interpretation of it. You could take almost anything out of the PHB and turn it into something strict.

For instance, where it says "Dwarves harbor a fierce hatred for orcs..." (4e PHB, p. 37), a DM might declare that your Dwarf character simply can't party with another player's Half-Orc character. Never mind the fun inter-party conflict that might ensue, never mind that different Dwarves might have different tolerances; a stupid enough DM might flat-out forbid it. It's the same with alignment. One DM might say, "A good-aligned character would never use the Intimidate skill in that manner..." while another DM might understand that sometimes good people do bad things.

tesral
01-22-2009, 01:51 PM
I doed it.

Out of the Box; the Conundrum of Alignment (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/alignment.html)

Edward
01-22-2009, 05:18 PM
there's no limitations whatsoever other than "you can't have sex outside of marriage" and "you better not use magic to coerce someone into it."

It seems a little odd that a war god would address marriage. In any case, don't forget that characters (including priests) in a polytheistic culture worship many gods, even if they have a preference for one. A priest of Ares, for example, would probably address prayers concerning marriage to Hera, and would follow her strictures on that subject.

GM's often think of a polytheistic religion as a set of separate monotheistic religions, but that's really not the case.

tesral
01-22-2009, 05:32 PM
It seems a little odd that a war god would address marriage. In any case, don't forget that characters (including priests) in a polytheistic culture worship many gods, even if they have a preference for one. A priest of Ares, for example, would probably address prayers concerning marriage to Hera, and would follow her strictures on that subject.

GM's often think of a polytheistic religion as a set of separate monotheistic religions, but that's really not the case.

Nor was the view of deity a paternalistic one. You made deals with the gods. Say you are going form Rome to Alexandria. You walk into the sea god temples and say, "Neptune, get me to Alexandra safely and I'll offer a sheep once I get there." You would go to Juno for matters of marriage, Venus for matter of love, Mercury to ensure a message got through, and Mars for war or good crops.

If Walmart is monotheism, the local mall is polytheism. If you don't like the bargains at one god's shop you can shop down the road a bit. With Wal-religion all the other retailers have been driven out of town.

It's a attitude that is largely absent in western society as the major monotheistic cults have all but taken over.

RGTraynor
01-22-2009, 09:32 PM
GM's often think of a polytheistic religion as a set of separate monotheistic religions, but that's really not the case.Nor is it in my world; nonetheless, a factor even in true polytheistic societies is that various deities promulgate moral codes pertaining to the particular devotees of those gods, and those traits not only don't necessarily dovetail with the others, they don't have to make objective sense to our 21st century Western notions of ethics and morality.

tesral
01-22-2009, 10:18 PM
Nor is it in my world; nonetheless, a factor even in true polytheistic societies is that various deities promulgate moral codes pertaining to the particular devotees of those gods, and those traits not only don't necessarily dovetail with the others, they don't have to make objective sense to our 21st century Western notions of ethics and morality.

Generally within a given culture you will have a single moral code. The myths of the gods will demonstrate that moral code by stories of those that triumphed through virtue or those that made a bad example of themselves and got punished. In a setting like Rome where it was the cult of the week, it was a civil sense of morals that prevailed, less one championed by any religion. This also explains why so many of the Emperors were such bad actors as they considered themselves equal to the gods, and therefor the civil standard did not apply to them. A knife inserted some place inconvenient was the society's usual answer to those that that went too far. [Caligula, Nero, Commodious.)