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#41 Ieqo

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 12:25 PM

Ieqo, correct me if I'm getting off track, but is the balding dwarf at the back of the classroom supposed to represent... Karl Marx? Is that related at all to your comments in support of "classless systems"?

No actually, it is an in-joke referring to several philospohical dissertations by Balazaar from the WLD recordings. :-) But Marx would work, too, if Marx had actually given discourse on the tangibility of good and evil.
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#42 mad_hatchet

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 02:22 PM

It wasn't the subject matter that made me think of Marx, it's the fact that Marx looked like a dwarf :) If John Locke had grown a homeless guy beard, I might have mentioned him too.

And, I didn't finish WLD, but you wouldn't be referring to the "after the fact" philosophical dissertations, would you?
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#43 Ieqo

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 07:43 PM

Nope. The "evil is a tangible thing" dissertations, the first one of which, I believe, took place during one of Balazaar's dream encounters with a deity. They were then reprised at least twice.
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#44 Cuchulain

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 08:40 PM

To be honest, being a philosopher in a D&D universe, one would have to conclude that "evil" itself is an entity - and not merely in the Platonic "form" sense, but actually detectable, perhaps even measurable.

I actually don't think enough thought has been put into questions of philosophy in a D&D setting. For example: one may detect evil in a person. One may detect evil in a thing. What exactly is evil, and how does it come to infect substances etc?

Or consider the impact of various sorts of resurrection on the question of personal identity.

Or the existence of the undead on that same question.

Issues...
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#45 Thing

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 08:49 PM

D&D and it's alignment system started out with moral absolutes. There where no gray areas. Good people where good, and evil where evil.

It works great as a mechanic to allow for alignment based spells, powers and protections. It made it ok to kill evil creatures no matter what. No moral problems, they where evil, you knew it, you detected it. There where no redeemable creatures of evil, they where born that way and would die that way.

It was a good and useful mechanic and the game was fun.

D&D was never about realism and we where fine with that.

If you wanted to deal with angst, ethical problems and philosophy you played another game.
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#46 Cuchulain

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 10:28 PM

You remind me of a quote from last weekend's Cthulhu game I'm running. "Oh, I miss D&D, where we can solve anything by just killing whoever we want..."

Actually, I think it would be rather fun to follow some of the philosophical speculations to their conclusions, and base a game around that.
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#47 Thing

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:28 AM

You remind me of a quote from last weekend's Cthulhu game I'm running. "Oh, I miss D&D, where we can solve anything by just killing whoever we want..."

Actually, I think it would be rather fun to follow some of the philosophical speculations to their conclusions, and base a game around that.

So do I. I am just not sure that would be D&D to me.
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#48 eformo

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:20 AM

To be honest, being a philosopher in a D&D universe, one would have to conclude that "evil" itself is an entity - and not merely in the Platonic "form" sense, but actually detectable, perhaps even measurable.


Red, if it exists in the Platonic form sense, is still readily detectable, even measureable.

The most interesting thing about good and evil as absolutes in DnD I think was the fact that they were predicates of an individual. Evil is predicated of this guy, which is why pro-evil works against him. Pro-good worked against the Paladin because Good was predicated of him, not merely a feature of his actions. That part is a departure from the classical larger than the rest I think.
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#49 Balgin

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 07:40 AM

D&D and it's alignment system started out with moral absolutes. There where no gray areas. Good people where good, and evil where evil.


Actualy they were Lawful, or they were Chaotic (with creatures that didn't think about it too much being neutral). It was a good few years before Godo and Evil became involved. It was originaly blatantly copied from the Elric books with everything being chaotic or lawful regardless of how good or wicked they were.

That being said it didn't follow the Elric thing of alignment dictating behaviour. It's more of a rough guideline so the GM can tell roughly what kind of character your playing (so he can have a go at you when they suffer a sudden personality flip that's really out of character).
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#50 Ieqo

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:45 AM

D&D and it's alignment system started out with moral absolutes. There where no gray areas. Good people where good, and evil where evil.

It works great as a mechanic to allow for alignment based spells, powers and protections. It made it ok to kill evil creatures no matter what. No moral problems, they where evil, you knew it, you detected it. There where no redeemable creatures of evil, they where born that way and would die that way.

It was a good and useful mechanic and the game was fun.

D&D was never about realism and we where fine with that.

If you wanted to deal with angst, ethical problems and philosophy you played another game.



Couldn't agree more, and I still love to go back to the old 'cowboys and goblins' style of game as often as possible. But then something happened...

It's more of a rough guideline so the GM can tell roughly what kind of character your playing (so he can have a go at you when they suffer a sudden personality flip that's really out of character).


Somewhere along the line alignment turned into something that the DM could use in controlling his players. We'd hear things like, "Oh, no. A Lawful Neutral character would never set a deadly trap and walk away from it.", or "Your Lawful Good paladin would never condone torturing that evil henchman for information about the necromancer's plans." This is not what the system is for.

Players caught on to this, and began to explore how to use alignment to justify doing whatever they wanted (cf. Hal's comment about Chaotic Neutral being 'the axe murderer's alignment'). All of a sudden, no one wanted to play or even associate with paladins because of the idea that since they all had to be "Lawful Stupid", that meant that every paladin in the world was Adam West's Batman. We started seeing a lot more players wanting to play "evil" characters; not that they wanted to burn villages and eat dead, burnt bodies, but because they wanted to be able to take practical approaches to problems and were worried about the GM or other players cockblocking them if they tried it with a good or neutral character. Again, this is not the intention of alignment, but that's where it went.

Alignment is, as Thing said, a game mechanic. Not a straitjacket or set of puppet strings.
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#51 Balgin

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 11:38 AM

It's more of a rough guideline so the GM can tell roughly what kind of character your playing (so he can have a go at you when they suffer a sudden personality flip that's really out of character).


Somewhere along the line alignment turned into something that the DM could use in controlling his players. We'd hear things like, "Oh, no. A Lawful Neutral character would never set a deadly trap and walk away from it."


Bad example: mouse trap.

Those mice are stealing the lawful neutral character's cheese and as such, theft demands punishment.
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#52 Cuchulain

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 07:47 PM

Red, if it exists in the Platonic form sense, is still readily detectable, even measureable.


I beg to differ. There are detectable items which partake of "redness", but the actual platonic, essential form "Red" is not directly observable or measurable.

The most interesting thing about good and evil as absolutes in DnD I think was the fact that they were predicates of an individual. Evil is predicated of this guy, which is why pro-evil works against him. Pro-good worked against the Paladin because Good was predicated of him, not merely a feature of his actions. That part is a departure from the classical larger than the rest I think.


Couldn't agree more. A very interesting digression from our own world; "evil" as a concept being a human construction of an idea that imperfectly fits the world, but serves as an interesting falsehood used to describe truth. In the D&D world, good and evil actually exist separate to any individual or social construction. It certainly puts a spanner in the works for any ethical debate.

Which might make for an interesting group of characters, or an encounter: a philosopher's guild, or a philosophy department of a medieval-esque university, who are constantly debating these issues. Perhaps they could be conducting "ethical experiments", prompting action from the PC's.
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#53 wmandersonjr

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 12:48 AM

Somewhere along the line alignment turned into something that the DM could use in controlling his players. We'd hear things like, "Oh, no. A Lawful Neutral character would never set a deadly trap and walk away from it.", or "Your Lawful Good paladin would never condone torturing that evil henchman for information about the necromancer's plans." This is not what the system is for.


IMO, alignment is a measurement of your character's actions rather an definition of allowed behavior. The 1e Dragonlance Adventure book had a mechanic for tracking the Good -Evil alignment of a character. It was particularly important in terms of wizards as the arcane magic was alignment based. In 4e Hackmaster (an AD&D variant), there is alignment tracking in both axes and even who you adventure or associate with can have an effect on your alignment (it slowly drags your alignment toward the average of the party).
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#54 wmandersonjr

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 01:19 AM

Does anyone remember how TSR fell in love with mercenaries? In 1st edition mercenaries were always chaotic neutral (because they owed loyalty to nothing other than could and would often switch sides at the drop of ahat if the pay was right). Then aload of second edition writers started writing adventures with lots of mercenaries (and apparently mercenaries were always beter than professional soldiers) who were always lawful neutral - they had a contract and were going to fulfill it. Very professional but not really mercenary enough. Back in third edition they realised mercenaries ahd blatantly been chaotic neutral all along and all those so called lawful neutral mercenaries hadn't really been mercenaries, just very professional soldiers who's boss payed them to claim to be mercenaries because he thought it was more glamourous or something.


That's probably due to influences on the individual writers of the different editions. 1e draws heavily on the sword and sorcery fantasy fiction of the 60's and 70's. Early 2e tried to incorporate more medieval historical elements. 3e had the anime, computer games, and fantasy fictions of the late 90's.
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#55 Ieqo

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 10:18 AM

IMO, alignment is a measurement of your character's actions rather an definition of allowed behavior.


It should be, and that was exactly my point: the system has been misappropriated by GMs (and players) as a way to control roleplaying and/or 'punish' those who want to jump off the railroad tracks.

Furthermore the misappropriation became so widespread that it became the default somewhere along the line. I can remember reading several published modules of all vintages, that said somewhere in the DM notes something to the effect of, "good-aligned characters will want to do this", or "good PCs will not allow that". Granted, published adventures require a certain bit of railroading, and assume a social contract that allows for such, but the heavy-handedness of such statements illustrates my point exactly.
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#56 mad_hatchet

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 09:41 AM

Which might make for an interesting [...] encounter: a philosopher's guild, or a philosophy department of a medieval-esque university, who are constantly debating these issues. Perhaps they could be conducting "ethical experiments", prompting action from the PC's.


Would the PCs actually fight the philosophy department? I'm imagining a version of the Monty Python's Holy Grail scene where Lancelot runs around stabbing helpless wedding-goers to dramatic music :) Or would these be multiclass philosopher/monks?
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#57 Illianthar

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 01:57 PM

I can't believe noone went with the Gnomish specialty cleric of Gond....they get an arquebus at Level 1 :)

Slowest weapon in the PH (Speed 15), but what's better than a black powder musket in a fantasy campaign!
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#58 Cuchulain

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 09:02 PM

Which might make for an interesting [...] encounter: a philosopher's guild, or a philosophy department of a medieval-esque university, who are constantly debating these issues. Perhaps they could be conducting "ethical experiments", prompting action from the PC's.


Would the PCs actually fight the philosophy department? I'm imagining a version of the Monty Python's Holy Grail scene where Lancelot runs around stabbing helpless wedding-goers to dramatic music :) Or would these be multiclass philosopher/monks?


Well, you could do it one of three ways, as far as I see it.
1. Pathetic philosophy department gets massacred Monty Python style by rampaging PC's, trying to persuade them against the morality of their actions in the process.
2. Monk/philosophers who'll kick your ass and debate the metaphysics of the afterlife at the same time.
3. Unsuspecting philosophy department enlists the aid of evil guys / summons evil guys / creates nasties to do their bidding, which just happens to be experiments in ethics.

Imagine, for example, coming across a big, nasty golem pummeling some innocent randomly in the street. Right afterwards, some scholarly looking gentlement come along, read a couple of scrolls, cast a couple of spells on this or that, mutter amongst themselves, make notes on some parchment and wander away.

Perhaps it is politically difficult to squash the department. Various members are important members of the local authorities, or have close connections there.

Getting a bit complicated for D&D? Well, I guess that's just what I'm used to.
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#59 Murine_Archmage

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 08:53 AM

I can't believe noone went with the Gnomish specialty cleric of Gond....they get an arquebus at Level 1 :)

Slowest weapon in the PH (Speed 15), but what's better than a black powder musket in a fantasy campaign!


Isn't the Arquebus universally banned in 2nd ed? If not.... WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?!?
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#60 Balgin

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:53 AM

Ahah! Last night I remembered it.

Ned's two handed axe: There are actualy rules for a two ahnded axe in 2nd edition. They're in The Complete book of Dwarves. They did a mini weapon table for armour spikes, some sort of armoured fist punch dagger thing and a dwarven two handed axe which could be used for short ranged smashing chopping blows or for a more long reach style instead.

And it's cost, weight & damage were all identical to the halberd.
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