Friday, June 10, 2011

Re: Recent Discussions

Not that the following quote is at all intended to be definitive, let alone to dissuade anyone from continuing to discuss/argue about the topic at hand, I nevertheless offer it up as a useful additional perspective:
As a point of order, who says that PCs need be of heroic stamp? that's a matter for the players to determine, they and none other, most assuredly.
The quote in question is from a 2005 Q&A thread with Gary Gygax and can be found here.

ADDENDUM: Let me say that my own feeling is that D&D -- or, indeed, most RPGs -- ought be "agnostic" on the question of end and means, leaving such matters up to the players and referee to decide for themselves. Such agnosticism is a strength, enabling groups to play the game according to their own tastes rather than those of its designers.

ADDENDUM #2: John Laviolette posted a very astute comment on this discussion over at his blog, where he reminds us that "villain" is not the only antonym for "hero."

46 comments:

  1. If the DM counts as a player and also gets a say, then I'm on board with that.

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  2. I would argue that the evolution of alignments is partially responsible for the shift towards pure heroism. When it was law or chaos, those abstract concepts leave a lot of room for discussion. When actual good and evil are included on the sheet, it causes people to consider their actions more with that in mind, and hence move away from the mirthful rogue or freebooter towards a hero. Exacerbating this effect was the growing influence of Tolkien as the game expanded, and the inclusion of classes that required certain alignments, as they kind of limited the rest of the group's choices.

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  3. I would think some interesting dynamics could play out at the table when some players want their characters to be heroes and some of them are just freebooting scoundrels.

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  4. There's a line somewhere in the ADnD PHB under the alignment section that says something to the effect of "Players can choose to be evil, but playing the hero is better and more rewarding."

    I'm paraphrasing and vastly over-simplifying.

    In my experience, being "evil" usually meant that the character was ultimately selfish and/or masochistic.

    We played mixed groups and pure evil groups and in both cases, the campaign usually ended with the party members turning on each other.

    I have found that Neutral Evil and Lawful Evil characters can work together, or in a mixed party, but Chaotic Evil and to a lesser extent Chaotic Neutral characters tend to cause (in-game) problems. A neutral good character can't long stand the company of a man for whom rape and murder are hobbies. He'll either leave, attack, or change alignments himself.

    In my experience, classes only have alignment restrictions where it makes sense. Rangers for example. While an evil character may live in the woods and claim to be defending them, his true reason is more likely to be a selfish one, the woods just being a location that serves his needs, not vice versa as with a truly good character.

    It's important to treat alignment not as a straight-jacket, but a tool in order to help define the personal philosophies of that particular character, even if the character himself is not aware of it. Many Neutral Evil rulers have believed themselves to be Lawful Good.

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  5. The group typically, as a whole, decides the tone and ultimately the game they play. The success of the group will definitely be determined by those choices.

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  6. joe said: "There's a line somewhere in the ADnD PHB under the alignment section that says something to the effect of 'Players can choose to be evil, but playing the hero is better and more rewarding.'"

    No, not in the 1E AD&D PHB.

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  7. "I would argue that the evolution of alignments is partially responsible for the shift towards pure heroism. When it was law or chaos, those abstract concepts leave a lot of room for discussion. When actual good and evil are included on the sheet, it causes people to consider their actions more with that in mind, and hence move away from the mirthful rogue or freebooter towards a hero."--Luke Martinez

    I saw just the opposite in my games. Being able to put "Evil" on their character sheets allowed players to separate their characters' moralities from their own and more easily play evil characters.


    "It's important to treat alignment not as a straight-jacket, but a tool in order to help define the personal philosophies of that particular character, even if the character himself is not aware of it. Many Neutral Evil rulers have believed themselves to be Lawful Good."--joe

    Exactly.

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  8. The overall morality of the D&D universe is pragmatism at best and amoral at worst. "Might makes right" seems to be the rule. You are to take treasure or magic away from other players using whatever means are available, including force, magic, intimidation, coercion or negotiation). The Advanced D&D Dungeon Master's guide advises: "The best way to avoid taking damage is to beat the foe so badly he wants to crawl under a rock or, better yet, run away."

    Now isn't that a wonderful "law of the jungle" kind of morality to instill in a young person? Whatever happened to forgiveness or turning the other cheek? These things seem entirely absent from D&D. Of course they are, they are not very worldly or exciting.

    Additionally, the games are very violent. John Eric Holmes, a doctor and editor of the "Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set" believes that the game can be a healthy outlet for anti-social behavior. However, he remarks that "The level of violence in this make believe world runs high. There is hardly a game in which the players do not indulge in murder, arson, torture, rape or highway robbery."

    Now, supposedly, some of this violence has been toned down over the years, but the underlying ethos is still one of amorality and violence.

    Now, let's start a good old fashioned book burning.

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  9. I agree with Gary's comment; allowing players to play evil PCs allows for interesting scenarios about morality and the consequences of evil deeds.

    My original objection was that the DCC RPG definitely leans against "agnosticism." Starting a blurb with the words "You are no hero" makes it pretty clear where the designer's leanings are.

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  10. Delta said... "No, not in the 1E AD&D PHB."

    I played 2E ADnD, though, after a review of my old PHB, I can't find it there either. It's possible that it was in the DMG, or that may have been some kind "house code", if you will. Memory is fuzzy, the dark years of the late 1990's are so far away...

    The PHB does have plenty to say about party dynamics, however, mainly suggesting that players be of similar alignments to avoid party in-fighting. It's not a rule though, just a warning to players and DM's that they should expect the paladin and the lunatic psycho-murderer to get into an argument or two.

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  11. Oddball: It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.

    Big Joe: Hey look, you just keep them Tigers busy and we'll take care of the rest.

    Oddball: The only way I got to keep them Tigers busy is to LET THEM SHOOT HOLES IN ME!

    Crapgame: Hey, Oddball, this is your hour of glory. And you're chickening out!

    Oddball: To a New Yorker like you, a hero is some type of weird sandwich, not some nut who takes on three Tigers.

    Kelly: Nobody's asking you to be a hero.

    Oddball: No? Then YOU sit up in that turret baby.

    Kelly: No, because you're gonna be up there, baby, and I'll be right outside showing you which way to go.

    Oddball: Yeah?

    Kelly: Yeah.

    Oddball: Crazy... I mean like, so many positive waves... maybe we can't lose, you're on!

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  12. Pretty clear where the designer's leanings are?

    You say it like it is a bad thing.

    Even Dr. John Holmes has said (in addition to teh comment I quoted from him in my last comment):

    "Moreover, just a Dungeons & Dragons players sometimes begin to think of their characters as real persons with a separate existence of their own, the Dungeon Master sometimes begins to think, 'I wonder what is really beyond the Southern Jungle,' forgetting that he alone has the power to put something there. The make-believe world assumes an eerie sense of reality."

    Don't believe me? Check out a copy of Psychology Today, Nov. 1980, pg. 93.

    @JasonZavoda: LOL! One of the greatest movies of a time! Amen, brother.

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  13. "There is hardly a game in which the players do not indulge in murder, arson, torture, rape or highway robbery."

    That's pretty hyperbolic. And if it really is, or was, common for groups to roll that way, no wonder parents were wary of the game. Frankly, viva the heroic and good riddance to jr. sociopaths in training style of gaming. I never thought of my D&D sessions as group therapy for people working out their psychotic jollies.

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  14. Addendum: Can't find the line in the DMG either, looks like we made it up. I did find this gem, however:

    "Even though it has been said several times already, this point is important enough to repeat--alignment is a tool to aid role-playing, not a hammer to force characters to do things they don't want to do."

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  15. My preference would be to have RPGs agnostic to the point of having no "alignment" at all, but I guess it's almost an unwritten rule that you have to have it included.

    My issue is when a game is labelled as objectively "wrong" BECAUSE it is not agnostic. It's like saying RuneQuest is objectively "wrong" because it's all about pagan cults and Glorantha, and not generic enough. It's ok not to like that kind of thing - everyone has their own taste, but it doesn't make the particular game objectively "wrong."

    If RuneQuest was launched by TSR as D&D second edition, then you could say it was "wrong", as it is not D&D as it is supposed to be, it would be a huge shift away from everything D&D is (and isn't).

    I think the issue that caused this is that the DCC RPG is being seen as an incarnation of D&D, rather than its own thing.

    @ joe

    > It's important to treat alignment not as a
    > straight-jacket, but a tool in order to help
    > define the personal philosophies of that
    > particular character, even if the character
    > himself is not aware of it. Many Neutral Evil
    > rulers have believed themselves to be Lawful
    > Good.

    I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly!

    As Wilem Defoe said in an interview when asked whether he preferred playing good or evil characters - "Don't make no difference, they both think they're righteous."

    However, in a fantasy RPG that breaks, because the existence of an objective Evil and Good is built into the system - thus you have detect evil spells and the like.

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  16. Player's Handbook 1st Edition page 109, "Generally evil characters, particularly chaotic evil ones, are prone to be troublesome and hurtful to the party. They should accordingly be shunned when possible. Selfish neutrals are similar to evil characters, but their price is usually easier to meet, and it is therefore easier to integrate them into an expedition which will depend on co-operation for success."

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  17. It's a game where you play medieval home invaders! No wonder people started looking for Tolkienesque 'save the world' plots.

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  18. Medieval home invaders attacking swarthy ugly subhumans. Let's not forget that.

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  19. "You are to take treasure or magic away from other players using whatever means are available, including force, magic, intimidation, coercion or negotiation)."--Grendelwulf

    From other players? In all my three decades of RPGing, I've seen that happen only once. And it was thirty years ago during one player's very first time playing any RPG. And his character was an assassin, so he mistakenly thought that's what he was supposed to do. But, after seeing how all the other players reacted, neither he nor anybody else ever did anything like that ever again. Because it's just plain uncool unless everybody involved has agreed in advance that that's how they're going to play that particular game. And I've never played with anybody who ever told me they thought that'd be fun.

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  20. "There is hardly a game in which the players do not indulge in murder, arson, torture, rape or highway robbery."

    In my over thirty years of RPGing experience, there's actually been hardly a game in which any player did indulge in murder, arson, torture, rape or highway robbery. Players did, occasionally, have their characters indulge in murder, arson or robbery. But never either torture or rape. I don't think it ever even occurred to any of them that imagining either torturing or raping anybody might be a fun thing to do.

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  21. "...allowing players to play evil PCs allows for interesting scenarios about morality and the consequences of evil deeds."--THOMAS

    Exactly!


    "Starting a blurb with the words 'You are no hero' makes it pretty clear where the designer's leanings are."--THOMAS

    No it doesn't. It could mean, like you seem to assume, that the designer intends for players to play villains. But it also could just as likely mean that the designer merely intends for players to play ordinary people who certainly don't seem destined to become heroes, and probably don't even seem particularly suited to becoming heroes, but still possibly could do so anyway -- if they try really hard and get really lucky. And it's pretty clear to me that the latter, not the former, is what the DCC RPG's designers intend for players to do.

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  22. @JasonZavoda & Grendelwulf I love that movie too!

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  23. "As Wilem Defoe said in an interview when asked whether he preferred playing good or evil characters - 'Don't make no difference, they both think they're righteous.' However, in a fantasy RPG that breaks, because the existence of an objective Evil and Good is built into the system - thus you have detect evil spells and the like."--maxam

    It breaks only if you assume that all the characters in the game world -- even the evil ones -- see everything the same way that we, the players of the game, do.

    But there's no reason to assume that they do.

    Just like real evil people in real life, the evil characters probably see themselves as "smart" or "liberated", or maybe even "enlightened" -- not "evil".

    And they probably also see themselves as at least "justified", and maybe even "entitled" too.

    And they certainly see anybody who isn't like themselves as "stupid" or "foolish", or maybe even "delusional" -- not "good".

    So, even though we, the players of the game, might, from our perspective outside the game, see the objective "Good" and Evil in the game mechanics, that doesn't mean any, let alone all, of the characters in the game world even can, let alone necessarily do, see any such objective "Good" or "Evil" from their perspective inside the game world.

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  24. @ Joe

    > It breaks only if you assume that all the
    > characters in the game world -- even the evil
    > ones -- see everything the same way that we,
    > the players of the game, do.

    That's not the kind of breaking I'm talking about. My point would be that, are they evil or misguided? The game does not allow for that - they are evil (ie "wrong") or good (ie "right"), no matter how aware they may or may not be of the fact. It's true - cast protection from evil/good or detect evil/good to find out.

    What I was trying to address is your original statement:

    > It's important to treat alignment not as a
    > straight-jacket, but a tool in order to help
    > define the personal philosophies of that
    > particular character, even if the character
    > himself is not aware of it.

    It's more than a philosophy if a detect evil spell will identify you as 'evil' - that, my friend is a straight-jacket.

    "But I had the best of intentions I thought I was doing good" "Nope sorry, the spell says you are evil. Now you die."

    I guess what it comes down to is, alignment (of the Good/Evil variety) works if you believe in them in real life.

    Consider this:

    God A says to his king - "I want to punish the B people. Go and annihilate them - kill every one of them, even the women, children and livestock.

    God B says to his king - "I want to punish the A people. Go and annihilate them - kill every one of them, even the women, children and livestock.

    What alignment are the gods? What alignment are the people? If the gamebook says God A is Lawful Good and God B is Chaotic Evil, does that justify the actions of God A and his people?

    My the mere existence of Good and Evil alignments in the game one of these abhorrent acts becomes 'right.'

    I don't have a problem with Gods in my fantasy games, but don't ever tell me genocide is objectively right under ANY circumstances. I'm more with Gods fight, people suffer.

    Oh, and if you don't think a "good" god would ever do such a thing - check out 1 Samuel 15:1.

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  25. Sorry - that reference is 1 Samuel 15:1-3. Here's the text (N.I.V.):

    Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

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  26. I like EGG's comment. It's spot on.

    MY view of it?

    The PCs start off HOPING to be heroes...

    someday...

    if they survive...

    Until then, you claw your way to the top.

    Because the best heroes come from humble beginnings.

    IMO, that's the problem since D&D 3.0: the system ASSUMES the PCs are already "heroic".

    Sorry, but in my game world you have got to EARN it, not to have it already given to you.

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  27. Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

    Who says that is a good god?...

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  28. This [LJ] was my first reaction to the "you're no hero" statement in the DCC RPG.

    Until it was actually said, I hadn't realised how much I really hate the increasing presumption that characters were the "heroes of the story," whether you consider them as actual potential heroes or heroes as another word for protagonist.

    In my mind there are a number of different types of heroes. Those characters in the wrong place at the right time, that manage to pull off the right thing. Those with the courage and endurance to hang on in a difficult situation for one moment more. And those willing to sacrifice themselves for others with no hope of reward. And it must be voluntary. If you try to force them to make that action then you are removing the glories of their herodom. Of the last, senseless stand against impossible odds that will hail down through the years whilst his companions are soon forgotten. Without the freedom to make that choice there can be no heroes.

    The times of play I remember forever are the ones where the players made that choice. Usually they died. Sometimes they survived. But the moment when they threw away that consideration was priceless.

    But then, I tend to run sandbox games where I'm interested more in the players telling their story than having them take roles in my own telling. Stuff happens. Players do stuff. Sometimes nothing of any real consequence. Sometimes they change things. Sometimes they even destroy the world.*

    The nice thing about old school games is that character's risk death. They may be better than most of the people they meet, but if they die it doesn't derail the story. The idea of plot immunity is laughable. Your next character is the opportunity to do better next time.

    [* Yes, I've had a player destroy the campaign world in a mistimed grab for supreme power. It led directly to the Exiles campaign (those that managed to escape the disaster) and a really interesting time loop. (There were reasons why Chronomancy was a forbidden area of study). I've been in other campaigns were we failed to save the world. Traditionally we screw up our character sheets and throw them at the gamemaster. But that has always ended the campaign. To restart it would cheapen the failure.]

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  29. DCC writes: "You’re no hero."

    I agree with Laviolette and others who point out that "hero" can be understood as the opposite of "ordinary person" rather than the opposite of "villain." In his OS Primer, Matt Finch suggests that a common trait of OS gaming is that 1st level character are "barely more capable than a regular person."

    However, in the context of DCC, the "You’re no hero" blurb is followed by this:

    "You’re a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen-slayer, a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets. You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons, and the vanquished."

    Hmmm. "Caked with the blood and filth of the weak..." That's pretty Darwinian (I'm not saying that's a bad thing at all, mind you). But it seems clear that DCC's idea of being "no hero" goes beyond simply "just an ordinary joe."

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  30. "My point would be that, are they evil or misguided? The game does not allow for that - they are evil (ie 'wrong') or good (ie 'right'), no matter how aware they may or may not be of the fact. It's true - cast protection from evil/good or detect evil/good to find out."

    First, such detection and protection spells don't work on people and creatures whose alignments are merely their beliefs or behavioral tendencies. They work only on supernaturally aligned beings, which does include name-level and higher characters who can cast clerical and druidical spells, but not other characters, unless they've entered into some sort of supernatural pact with some sort of supernaturally aligned being.

    Second, only the Good characters in the game world would likely think of detection and protection spells as relating to "Good" and "Evil". The Evil characters would more likely think of them as relating to things like "intelligence" and "stupidity" or "superiority" and "inferiority". Or, even if they did call them "Good" and "Evil", they'd reverse the labels. So each alignment would have a different opinion about what the results of the spells mean. Nothing universally unambiguous.

    Finally, even if you decide to let detection and protection spells affect mundane beings, the spells still shouldn't have anything to do with their mere beliefs, or even their behavior. What the spells have to do with is intent. So, if their intentions are Good, then the spells will see them as Good, even if they've been mislead into believing that it'd be "good" for them to do something that's actually Evil. And the spells wouldn't be any more useful for telling truly Evil people from merely "misguided" people either. The spells would just see the misguided people as either Good or Evil depending on what their intentions are.

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  31. "It's more than a philosophy if a detect evil spell will identify you as 'evil' - that, my friend is a straight-jacket. 'But I had the best of intentions I thought I was doing good' 'Nope sorry, the spell says you are evil. Now you die.'"

    Nope. If they really did have the best of intentions, then the spell would see them as Good. (If it even saw them at all.)

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  32. The context of the "You are no hero" statement is as follows: "You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak,the dark, the demons, and the vanquished "

    I think it is pretty clear where the designer's leanings are.

    I agree that its a false dichotomy to say that the only two options are villain or hero. But promoting oneself at the expense of the lives of the weak is the essence of villainy.

    To be generous, it could be that whoever wrote that blurb didn't fully realize the implications of what they were writing. But given the mood among RPG designers right now (LotFP), I think they knew what they were doing. Being nihilistic is chic right now.

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  33. None of the games I've ever played featured rape and highway robbery on the part of the players.

    "You’re a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen-slayer, a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets. You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons, and the vanquished."


    sounds a lot like Conan to me, and afaic he still qualifies as a "hero" in some sense. I mean he wasn't running around raping women and pillaging coins from helpless peasants. Its possible to be a hero without being some sort of shining light of goodness...

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  34. "God A says to his king - 'I want to punish the B people. Go and annihilate them - kill every one of them, even the women, children and livestock.' God B says to his king - 'I want to punish the A people. Go and annihilate them - kill every one of them, even the women, children and livestock.' What alignment are the gods?"

    They're both definitely Evil. And, since they both have kings and they both talk about punishment, then they're both probably Lawful too. So Lawful Evil.


    "What alignment are the people?"

    Both probably Lawful Evil too. Unless either of their gods or their leaders are deceiving them about the true intentions of what they tell them to do. Then they could be either Neutral or even Good. But probably still Lawful, or they'd be much less likely to do what they're told.


    "If the gamebook says God A is Lawful Good and God B is Chaotic Evil, does that justify the actions of God A and his people?"

    No. That means either the gamebook is wrong about at least the one it says is Lawful Good or you're playing at least the Lawful Good god wrong.


    "By the mere existence of Good and Evil alignments in the game one of these abhorrent acts becomes 'right.'"

    No it doesn't. True "right" Good and "wrong" Evil are defined by the moral and ethical guidelines that describe the alignments, not by whatever anybody, not even any god, says they are.

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  35. "You’re a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen-slayer, a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets. You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons, and the vanquished."

    I must admit that does smack a little of villainy.

    But just a little.

    So only petty villiany.

    Mostly just non-heroicness.

    (It's a real word. I just made it up.)

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  36. Luke Martinez said...
    I would argue that the evolution of alignments is partially responsible for the shift towards pure heroism.

    I found myself wanting to immediately agree with this. Some players are more inclined than others though to adopt a 'good guy' stance or persona or whatever. So they feel (or maybe the DM tells them) that they must be of a particular alignment, or a range of them.

    And it was good of you James to point out alternatives hero to villain.

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  37. "Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars. Thither came Conan, a reaver, a slayer, to tread on the jeweled thrones of the Earth beneath his sandaled feet." -- The Nemedian Chronicles

    Yeah, the DCCRPG back cover is quoting Howard with some Leiber thrown in for good measure, but it's an example of the marketing racing ahead of the product. Read the section on alignment - particularly the part about lawful characters - and you'll see the game itself makes heroic play (in the moral sense) one of the central options for characters. It is not a nihilistic game, though the back-cover blurb flirts with it.

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  38. The original D&D alignment system of law, neutral, chaos made more sense in the game than when good and evil were introduced. D&D's alignment system has been confusing, inconsistent, and a catalyst for arguments ever since.

    Despite the names, the original three alignments only meant sides in the wargame sense - one side, the other, and the unaligned. Law was generally associated with the good guys (humans and their allies) and chaos with their enemies. They only became tied to the Anderson/Moorcock cosmology later, in a famous Dragon article by Gygax, when he added good and evil to the mix, thereby creating the problem of what law and evil were supposed to mean.

    Aside from these two different sets of definitions about what law and chaos mean, good and evil introduced most of the problems because we as a culture have never agreed on what they mean. Self-proclaimed "good" people usually do the very worst things - inquisitions, genocide, etc. People who try to be good but are skeptical about their own rectitude usually behave better than do the self-righteous. So does "good" mean you call yourself good, or you mean well, or you truly are good, and if the latter what would that mean?

    This ambiguity emerges in the first D&D edition published after Gygax's article, the Holmes blue book. When you compare the text for the Detect Evil, Know Alignment, and Protection from Evil spells and the Character Alignment section, you see four different definitions of evil (evil intent, defined alignment, enchanted monsters, and "bad" behavior like torturing or killing prisoners). Later editions in no way improved the situation.

    Nevertheless, I like the inclusion of alignment in games. I like the arguments about morality and ethics they provoke. I like that although any character may take any action, we must nevertheless watch and consider the significance of their actions. All true epics wrestle with the problems of ethics and morality along with adventure; the relative behavior of Paris, Hector, Achilles, Ajax, and Agamemnon lifts the adventures of the Iliad to a deeper, more fulfilling pitch. Consider how much Howard has to say about the relative morality of civilized versus uncivilized peoples. Consider Leiber's exploration of friendship, loyalty, and so many other ethical concerns in his work.

    When players are free to have their character behave outside of stereotypically moral frames, it increases rather than decreases the opportunities to explore ethical issues, since we can then compare unexpected behavior to those frames to try to understand the meaning of what has happened. And try to better understand the frames themselves. If any RPG ever had a perfectly accurately defined system of alignment, it would probably be far less interesting than all the flawed systems we've had to play with over the years. A broadly encompassing frame that describes possibilities creates more such opportunities than if we prescribed in advance that all characters must be the same alignment.

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  39. the only meaningful alignment system is one that acknowledges the endless struggle of schlock vs. twee.

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  40. "It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." -- Oscar Wilde

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  41. I was wondering: Before everyone got into yet another pointless and ill-informed alignment discussion did anyone actually READ what Gygax said in the quote and take note of the context?

    Gygax was referring to whether it was "heroic" for PCs to use mooks (redshirts, lackeys, men-at-arms) and whether the PCs should fret over the inevitable losses. Gygax said:

    Hired men-at-arms or like follwers can be relatively inconsequential in loss, but never henchmen or associated NPCs. To a PC of strong Good alignment, any such loss should be lamentable.

    Cheers,
    Gary


    When a poster claimed that it wasn't "heroic" to expend the lives of underlings, Gygax responded by pointing out that heroic military leaders do just that and in any event, who says PCs need to be heroic in the first place? It had nothing to do with alignment.

    EGG's quote was awesome, which is why it's been my sig ever since.

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  42. One more thing: Even in "heroic" tales, not everyone is heroic. Some are just average people, some are fools and some are sniveling cowards. It takes all kinds.

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  43. "...creating the problem of what law and evil were supposed to mean."--Rick Marshall

    Problem? I don't see any problem with that. Lawful Evil is all around us. The world is full of people who are both Lawful -- thinking that maintenance of order for the benefit of the group is more important than respecting individual rights -- and Evil -- thinking that ends justify means.


    "...good and evil introduced most of the problems because we as a culture have never agreed on what they mean. Self-proclaimed 'good' people usually do the very worst things - inquisitions, genocide, etc. People who try to be good but are skeptical about their own rectitude usually behave better than do the self-righteous. So does 'good' mean you call yourself good, or you mean well, or you truly are good, and if the latter what would that mean?"--Rick Marshall

    While I agree that, in the real world, it's impossible to get everybody to agree what "good" and "evil" are -- because almost everybody wants to believe that they and whatever they like are good and that whatever they don't like and whoever likes those things are evil -- that doesn't have to stop us from defining what "Good" and "Evil" will mean in a game's rules.

    And, despite all it's confusion and inconsistency, it seems to me that all the myriad definitions of "Good" and "Evil" that D&D has used can be distilled down into one simple principle:

    The difference between "Good" and "Evil" is that "Good" believes that ends do not justify means, and so limits its own behavior accordingly, but "Evil" believes that ends do justify means, and so acts without any moral self-constraint.

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  44. @Rick Marshall I forgot to say... Other than the minor quiblings above, I, yet again, think everything you've said here is correct.

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