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Originally Posted by Ayvah
Why is the society evil? Is it because some members of that society are being abused? If everyone's happy then it gets a bit hard to argue that it's an evil society.

There is a reason I placed evil in quotes. But every member of the drow society that worships Lolth is being abused, though Drow don't always feel like they are being abused, some of these things are just normal to them.

Originally Posted by Ayvah
Why is the character evil? Can they adjust to living in a "good" society where you'll be more successful by being nice and friendly?

On a philosophical level evil is subjective, in a more conventional undrstanding an evil character is someone who doesn't have a problem with improving their well being at the expense of other peoples well being.

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Any Forgotten Realms discussion of evil that doesn't include the role of the gods is flawed. It's just a mistake to import contemporary notions of good and evil into this fantasy realm. In our world we don't think of ontological evil. I, and most people, don't think that people who do morally reprehensible things are being influenced by cosmic forces and that these evil acts take on an ontological form in another dimension of reality. But that's not true of Faerun. In the realms, evil is real. Every murder produces a divine tear in the throne of Bhaal and Bhaal collects and treasures every single tear.

A priestess of Bhaal who murders everyone in the grove is not playing "stupid evil" she is correctly playing to type. In this fantasy world evil for the sake of evil is the default motivation of villains because, unlike our world, evil is an ontological reality.

Anyone watching American Gods? It covers this pretty well. Every sacrifice carried out in Odin's name makes Odin that much stronger. In Faerun, every priest of Bhaal exchanges their god given gifts for acts of worship designed to strengthen their patron deity -- acts of worship such as the murder of innocents.

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@KillerRabbit

I am in the club of people that wants D&D to evolve with time. This is why I want Alignment gone, I want to see contemporary morality in D&D, objective good and evil is one thing I don't like to see in fantasy settings. I see Gods as just having portfolios, you want to please a certain God, you do things that the God likes, if God for example likes murder, you please that God by mudering, if God likes honor, you please that God by being honorable, no need to attach the good and evil tags. I don't feel like good / evil is a crucial core part of D&D without which it would not function or would lose it's identity.

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You and I disagree on this and I'm 100% with Larian and Pathfinder on this issue. WotC tried to eliminate alignment in 4th ed and it was one of the (many) reasons fans rejected it in favor of Pathfinder . . .

Alignment is indeed a crucial part of the identity both of DnD and of BG. Then entire premise of BG was "can you resist the evil inside"? (the very real, ontological evil that was attached to your soul at birth; this premise was stolen from Ravenloft which is a setting that just doesn't work without 'real' evil).

And the BG3 story would suffer without alignment. We don't know how but we do know that Shar is going to play a major role the plot.. Shar gave birth to all evil, she wants to see all life snuffed out. And thus Shadowheart's dilemma . . .

Priests become rather bland without alignment. Make Shar the holder of the portfolio of darkness and deception and she becomes bland.

People just like alignment. Witness the thousands of alignment grid memes. In this WotC is simply screwing up and opening themselves up for a challenge from an alternative ruleset.

Last edited by KillerRabbit; 21/01/21 10:51 PM.
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@KillerRabbit

Yeah, we will have to just agree to disagree. I don't think 4th edition failed because of changes to alignment, don't think there would be a problem with BG original story without objective evil, don't think Shar would be bland without objective evil, and don't think BG3 story would suffer in any way without alignment.

Existence of objective good and evil takes away from the setting being serious in my eyes, makes it more goofy, cartoony.

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Originally Posted by KillerRabbit
You and I disagree on this and I'm 100% with Larian and Pathfinder on this issue. WotC tried to eliminate alignment in 4th ed and it was one of the (many) reasons fans rejected it in favor of Pathfinder . . .
What do you mean you're with Larian? Have you found any materials from Larian confirming that Minthara has an "evil" alignment? I'm not aware of any.

As others have pointed out before, BG3 has lots of characters playing against type. We meet a "good" githyanki and even a friendly mindflayer.

Originally Posted by KillerRabbit
People just like alignment. Witness the thousands of alignment grid memes.
I disagree. People like it for the same reason people like horoscopes. It's just about putting people into prescriptive boxes. We might as well be trying to work out whether Minthara is a Sagittarius. Whether or not it's helpful is a separate matter.

Here Zaeed Massani -- a bounty hunter who will literally kill anyone (good or bad) for money -- is classified as "True Neutral" basically just because he's not eating babies for fun. For the record, a bounty hunter who's happy to kill good guys or bad guys as long as he gets a paycheck would be better described as evil.

But what do you think in regards to the "lawful" thing? From memory Zaeed has a strict code of honour that he follows, so I'd classify that as "lawful". But on the other hand, he has no regard for the laws of governments and murder is against the law. So is he lawful or chaotic?

In contrast, the spectres are special because they are given the privilege by law to ignore the laws everyone else needs to follow. Does that make them lawful or chaotic?

(There is no correct answer to these questions.)

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Originally Posted by Ayvah
Here Zaeed Massani -- a bounty hunter who will literally kill anyone (good or bad) for money -- is classified as "True Neutral" basically just because he's not eating babies for fun. For the record, a bounty hunter who's happy to kill good guys or bad guys as long as he gets a paycheck would be better described as evil.

Lawful evil does not imply government orders or compliance with their laws... In fact, it can be anyone's orders. But as you said, he's a hunter, obviously a neutral character. There is nothing "chaotic" about him, if he kills someone for money for his own benefit, then that doesn't make him chaotic. It's pretty obvious, even if you used it as an example. This character perfectly fits the definition of a true neutral.

1. He is only interested in the benefit for himself
2. He is indifferent to other people's problems
3. He will not harm anyone just for fun
4. Impartial


That's enough. I absolutely agree with Killer Rabbit. But I wouldn't say that Larian is going in this way. I am glad that they use the usual archetypes, but with the worldview they can do different way.


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The whether or not you breaking the law is Good or Evil depends on if the Law being broken is Good or Evil.

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I think that questions of morality aren't as complicated in FR as they are in our world, because we have actual Planes of reality and Deities that represent it certain ideals in this manner.
The real question comes from how characters and worlds are written around these concepts because they can make up whatever answer to these questions they like

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Originally Posted by Nyloth
4. Impartial
For Zaeed to be evil he should refuse to kill other evil people? Why? Out of solidarity?

"Well, I got a contract to kill that guy but then I learned he eats babies so you know... I'd feel uncomfortable about killing such a cool dude. That's why I joined Team Evil. When you join Team Evil you need to be willing to stand up for your comrades. Because I think the world would be better if everyone just ate more babies and I am willing to make a personal sacrifice to make that world a reality.

Team Evil: Because babies are delicious."

Originally Posted by Nyloth
1. He is only interested in the benefit for himself
2. He is indifferent to other people's problems
That's not evil?

The alignment system as defined:

Evil:
  • I will harm others for personal benefit.
  • Maybe eating babies is fun, maybe it's delicious, or maybe it's profitable. Either way, if there's a baby in my belly that doesn't bother me.

Neutral:
  • I won't harm others just because it benefits me, but I am not responsible for harm inflicted by others.
  • I won't eat babies but if someone else wants to eat babies then that's not my problem.

Good:
  • I am responsible for preventing others from causing harm. I should make personal sacrifices for the benefit of others.
  • If someone else tries to eat a baby, I should stop them even at personal cost.

IN ADDITION, the stupid alignments:
Stupid Evil:
  • I will harm others even at personal cost.
  • Babies taste terrible but I eat them because I mean... uh... you know... babies. They don't like it. You gotta eat them.

Stupid Neutral:
  • I literally can't tell the difference between good and evil. I think they should all just compromise.
  • Person A wants to eat a baby (evil). Person B (good) doesn't want Person A to eat a baby. How about we compromise and let Person A eat half a baby?

Stupid Good:
  • I will be "nice" even at personal cost, and even at cost to others.
  • If I meet someone who likes eating babies, then at personal cost I will provide that person with a dining table and a cooking pot and politely ask them to use these items for good. I'm a nice person. Yay!

You're also wrong about Zaeed being "neutral" in terms of lawfulness by the way. Every possible answer is both correct and yet completely and utterly wrong.

[Linked Image from media.giphy.com]

That we're able to have this argument shows how broken the alignment system is.

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Like so many of these discussions, what exactly being "True Neutral" becomes a big sticking point, I personally think it's not something actors in the narrative can actually be. If I may reference a binary moral spectrum, Jolee Bindo thinks the only way to live a moral life as a Jedi is to isolate himself from the world as much as possible, but when faced with what the cost of inaction might be he can't help but side with being good. You get something similar (at first anyway) with Kreia.

Neutral isn't something I think people can really be, it can't be point trading, as if one good deed balances one bad deed, and it can't be total inaction because choosing not to do something is as morally fraught as doing something good or bad.

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Another example is Geralt of Rivia, whose entire arc is that he starts out neutral in relation to human matters. He just wants to do his job, killing monsters for money, without getting involved in human conflict.

The few times he gets involved in human conflict, he tries to deal with them in a "stupid neutral" way. He's quoted saying: “Evil is Evil. Lesser, greater, middling… Makes no difference. The degree is arbitary. The definition’s blurred. If I’m to choose between one evil and another… I’d rather not choose at all.”

His character arc is about grappling with the consequences of his neutrality and growing to become a more "good" character.

In terms of his actual monster killing job though, he's always good: It's not a very profitable job, and he'd probably be better off getting a job as a bodyguard (a job which he's refused on several occasions). Additionally, he will refuse to kill good monsters and often kills evil monsters even when the pay isn't worth it.

Layers!

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IMO you can totally hate the alignment system without bringing contemporary morals into it. The notion that you can boil ANY sapient creatures motives, culture, and actions into a 2D scatter plot is just stupid.

The whole system is just flame bait.

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Originally Posted by Ayvah
What do you mean you're with Larian? Have you found any materials from Larian confirming that Minthara has an "evil" alignment? I'm not aware of any.

To be honest I'm just too lazy to look it up but in an interview before the game was released Sven said that alignment wasn't in the game but would probably be put in because people liked it. (and he's right) Also, clerics of evil gods get the tag [evil cleric] -- notice that Shadowheart is the one party member that has an easy time reading the necromancy of thay because she has that tag.


Originally Posted by Ayvah
As others have pointed out before, BG3 has lots of characters playing against type. We meet a "good" githyanki and even a friendly mindflayer.

Alignment doesn't say you can play against type -- it just sets the standard for the type to be played against. I hope we don't get other good mind flayers -- ruins the eldritch terror of the flayers. Who is the good Gith?

Originally Posted by Ayvah
Originally Posted by KillerRabbit
People just like alignment. Witness the thousands of alignment grid memes.
I disagree. People like it for the same reason people like horoscopes. It's just about putting people into prescriptive boxes. We might as well be trying to work out whether Minthara is a Sagittarius. Whether or not it's helpful is a separate matter.

That's a very Aries point to make wink Yeah, people like horoscopes, good analogy. So what's wrong with that? I mean as long as you aren't using horoscopes to map out the career for a rock band it's all good fun.

I think alignment opens up interesting role playing possibilities. Of course anyone can bring up bad or cliched examples but that doesn't mean all such examples are bad or cliched.

Ever watch Star Trek the Next Generation? There is a core principle of the federation -- the prime directive.

Quote
As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.

And then the series would put the protagonists in series of moral quandaries where they would need to choose between this value and some competing value. Does the prime directive apply to a slave owning society? What about a society of body snatchers -- parasites that have brainwashed a population into believing that being invaded by a mind control tadpole is the greatest possible honor? Can the crew live up the precepts of their 'alignment' ?

In BG2 Keldorn has a conflict between the two axes of alignment -- the law says his wife should hang, the good says he should forgive her. There is no Lawful and Good resolution, thus the strain in the character and CHARNAME's need to resolve the issue for him.

Your example looks like lots of fun (really!) but I've not played mass effect so I hesitate to comment on an NPC I don't understand but your larger point is correct. Alignment -- like astrological signs -- break down. The question is whether all games need to be like Mass Effect. (as you are telling me it is) Or all fantasy settings need to be like Westeros.


Originally Posted by Ayvah
(There is no correct answer to these questions.)

Which is why they provide the fuel for so many discussions. Which is why they are fun. People need to decide on the basis of the lore, on the personal values they project upon them, upon the context in which the questions show up.

Or, to put it another way, Alignment is fun smile

Last edited by KillerRabbit; 22/01/21 03:55 AM.
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Originally Posted by Sozz
The whether or not you breaking the law is Good or Evil depends on if the Law being broken is Good or Evil.

So says the neutral good or chaotic good character. Now I agree with that but I'm chaotic good in real life wink

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Originally Posted by Kadajko
@KillerRabbit

Existence of objective good and evil takes away from the setting being serious in my eyes, makes it more goofy, cartoony.

If you had to choose, which game seems more goofy and cartoony? BG2 -- with its focus on alignment or DOS2 which doesn't have an alignment system? My answer is DOS by a mile.

I think DnD lives in some place on a continuum between the cartoony world of DOS1 and the realpolitik of Westeros. I love the Ice and Fire novels but I want to play an RPG in Faerun.

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I just want to add, for anyone who wants to see Geralt's character arc from neutral to good summarised in a single trailer.

Note that in the trailer they repurposed the "evil is evil" quote a bit. In the books / TV series (NSFW) it is said in one of his "stupid neutral" moments where his attempt to play both sides eventually results in the worst possible outcome.

Cool stuff.

Last edited by Ayvah; 22/01/21 04:17 AM.
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Interestingly, only Astarion and Minthara have lot of fans in Internet.

Gail, Will, Laezel, even Shadow Heart (although she is cute and mysterious) seems to be chosen by many in game, but they do not have enough charisma and charm to have many discussions about them. They are good companions, interesting personalities, the developers did a good job but just ... just not that.

Creative people like bright, charismatic and self-loving maniacs who have a difficult fate and who know how to inspire

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Originally Posted by OneManArmy
Interestingly, only Astarion and Minthara have lot of fans in Internet.

Gail, Will, Laezel, even Shadow Heart (although she is cute and mysterious) seems to be chosen by many in game, but they do not have enough charisma and charm to have many discussions about them. They are good companions, interesting personalities, the developers did a good job but just ... just not that.

Creative people like bright, charismatic and self-loving maniacs who have a difficult fate and who know how to inspire

I'm on the record saying that Shadowheart is the most interesting companion to me so far, probably the best written too. But the Shar/Selune speculation threads are long fallow now. People enjoy discussing morally compromised characters, and more, how they feel they're being treated by the game.

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I think it's just that Minthara is hotter than Shadowheart. She is more conventionally feminine in appearance, at least.

Damn, just realised that the male companions -- Gale, Astarion and Wyll are all attractive in their own ways.

Meanwhile, the only human(ish) female companion is Shadowheart.

Aside from her, we've also got Lae'zel, a githyanki, and potentially also a tiefling and a halfling. A lot of fetish material if you're into that kind of thing. lol.

Minthara is starting to look pretty good. Sorry everyone. I'm gonna have to turn her good like I did with Morrigan from Dragon Age.

It's just science.

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