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View Full Version : Ethical Issue, Yet Again...



HMS Invincible
2011-10-14, 04:04 PM
We got into a stalemate about what to do regarding an ethically dubious situation. It applied in both the Evil vs Good alignment system, and the common sense everyday morality.

Paladin pays us 40k$ to shut down a quarry being used to make a monument for the Death Cult, DM's name not ours. We get there and there's about 200 commoners who work the mines to support their families. In addition, the foreman of the mine is some magical half human hound thingy that registers lawful evil. The paladin said finish the job in 7 days.
Our fighter wanted a nonviolent solution on these grounds:
1. Miners would be out of a job if we shut down quarry.
2. Being Evil aligned did not warrant attack in itself.

The simple solution, which I proposed was to declare the quarry shut down, and beat up anybody who resisted.
Our fighter convinced everyone that my idea was immoral and decided to talk things out.
First plan, bribe the owners of the mine so they would stop giving marble to the cult. Foreman refused on unknown grounds, probably due to Lawful Stupid.
Second plan, ask paladin to reconsider shutting quarry, and to track down the monument so it could be destroyed. Said shut down the quarry and he'll tell us to destroy the monument later.
Third plan, save the miners by getting them a job working for the paladin as soldiers. Refused since the miners would just die as soldiers and there was no guarantee that the paladin would accept them.

5 days of ingame, and 4 hours of playtime had passed, and we all gave up. Everybody went back to my original plan, and now we're in the process of beating up a bunch of commoners. It's a hollow victory because we wasted a bunch of time, and they think I'm a bloodthirsty adventurer. Lastly, I suggested we could simply return the paladins payment and be free to defeat the death cult without violating our moral codes, but I did not get an answer. I'm unsure if I had used up my credibility at that point, or we were all just really tired.

I asked the GM what was the point of giving us a moral dilemma if he wasn't going to let us solve it nonviolently. He simply replied that he was hoping a moral dilemma would arise, but said nothing else.

Dr.Epic
2011-10-14, 04:23 PM
Pretty obvious: don't kill the commoners (unless provoked by them), and try to take down the guys in charge. I'm not sure what the DM was trying to do though.

Trinoya
2011-10-14, 04:32 PM
Sounds like a case of the DM blocking some of the other options...

Of course, with 40,000 gold you could have just given every commoner 50 gold a pop to leave and go find work elsewhere.



Now my question is why did this paladin want this shut down other than the fact it was a statue of an evil god? Was it hurting anyone? Doing anything wrong? Or is it just a, "My invisible man in the sky is better than yours" kinda deal?

Either way, putting 200 people out of work (or in this case attacking them) isn't a moral dilemma. Your party is attacking people who appeared to do them no wrong, regardless of if their boss was evil or not, and they are doing so far money. Your party should think of the families that are going to starve to death because daddy never came home from work one day, and so should the paladin that hired you all.

Alaris
2011-10-14, 04:40 PM
Seems like railroading on the DM's part to me.

I agree with Trinoya though, depending on the level of magic within that world. Pop 50 gold to each Commonor, and they'd be ECSTATIC. That would pay for food for them for a LONG TIME. That, and you'd still have 30k gold left over.

Most people, including DMs don't think on the value of a gold piece, but to a commoner, it's incredible.

Definitely GM choice-blocking you there, forcing you down one road or another. But you guys made your decision, not much you can do about it now. If you want to save face, send gold to the families of those commoners. It won't replace their fathers, but it will prevent them from starving, which is a step in the non-evil direction.

erikun
2011-10-14, 05:25 PM
Putting the miners out of a job isn't really a moral quandary. I would assume there is other paying work elsewhere, and they would definitely be out of a job once the statue is finished. If the miners are in danger of starvation just due to not being able to build a large statue, then they have far greater problems than simply working for a badguy.

Second, I would seriously question why a Paladin is okay with beating up a bunch of miners to stop a cult's evil plans. You know, instead of just stopping the cult. Because let's be frank, this isn't likely the only quarry in existence, and it wouldn't take much for said cult to start buying from another person.

I would honestly question why it's a Paladin asking to shut down an evil cult, and if it isn't a Badguy trying to shut down a good cult, or even a Badguy just trying to smear the PCs' names by shutting down the development of a local government city. If you don't feel like following the stone delivery to see this "Evil Cult" in person, then I would suggest trying to steal the quarry tools or destroying the (empty at night) main office, before beating up on the commoners. At least you could pretend like you weren't responsible when the authorities ultimately show up.

Tengu_temp
2011-10-14, 06:19 PM
It seems that in this DM's dictionary, giving the players a moral dilemma means throwing them into a morally ambigious situation and veto'ing all attempts at solving it in a good-aligned way.

I second just paying the miners. Don't kill any of them even if they attack you, it's not like you can't afford the attack penalty for dealing non-lethal damage when fighting commoners (I assume this is DND we're talking about). And yeah, the paladin is being quite the jackass here. It's just a statue, not a magical artifact of doom.

Anxe
2011-10-14, 06:26 PM
Definitely pay the miners. Take out their management. Then reinstall one of the miners own as the leader. Leave them some weapons, so if the Death Cult comes back they can defend themselves.

Coidzor
2011-10-14, 06:47 PM
If you've got the where-withal to just walk up and shut down the mine, you can also just shut it down for a few days to make an inspection.

I imagine interrogation and information gathering from the workers and interaction with the overseer would both get you more information and let you know what to do with the buggers specific-like.

Probably the owners of the mine/foreman refused the bribe because the owners have a deal and are in cahoots with the death cult, so admitting they know what you're talking about is admitting to being accomplices.

If the death-cult isn't deeper in the mines or something, then there's no real point to shutting down the mine, you just get the information you need to connect the owners to the death cult, and then take them out after tracking the shipments to the deathcult, interrupting them, and killing in the faces of the death cult.

So, yeah, your DM kinda failed in whatever he was trying to do or was just out to be an ass.

HMS Invincible
2011-10-14, 07:32 PM
We all thought about these ideas, including that the paladin had turned evil. I think we settled on the idea that symbols have power. If the death cult were to finish their monument, it would attract the attention of an old death god. We turned down the idea of paying off the commoners, I'm not sure if it was because of their loyalty, or because they would just hire more people.

I think the scenario was a lot simpler than we made it out to be, attack the evil owners of the quarry, the commoners are there as hindrance to the adventurers. We didn't have to care about their jobs, or how to bribe them. At least, this is what I think the DM planned out. What really held us back was that the fighter didn't want to fight anything that didn't start a fight AND convinced everyone else too. I remember the DM asking us why we didn't sneak in at night. Which brought me to this conclusion.

Anderlith
2011-10-14, 09:05 PM
Let the miners continue working but let them supply marble to someone else. Kill the guys in charge & the deathcult. Help the commoners form a guild as well

Paseo H
2011-10-15, 06:33 AM
Spend the money and distract the miners by holding a dance party. Perhaps hire some DJs.

Yora
2011-10-15, 06:43 AM
Just watch the quarry and wait until someone comes to pick up the stones. You can't sneak away with cartloads of marble. Then you find the monument and can destroy the construction site.

Crossblade
2011-10-15, 07:08 AM
All that was said above. Paladin shouldn't be asking you to beat up innocents. Bad guys can get rock from another quarry. Why not go after cult instead? Give gold to miners and see comment about them being out of work after statue is done.


Final Option: NON-LETHAL DAMAGE

Worira
2011-10-15, 09:01 AM
You should probably just stab them all in the face. A paladin told you to do it, so it's okay.

Templarkommando
2011-10-15, 11:10 AM
There are a few things I would take into consideration here:

1.) What is the significance of the statue? I may have missed it as I skimmed through the thread, but I don't recall it being addressed. If the cult has some use for the statue that will result in evil being done, you may volunteer to drive the cultists away so that the quarry can remain open. If the cultists don't plan to do anything with the statue, you can approach the Paladin and explain that the statue is harmless and actually enriches the good and law-abiding commoners by giving them money to feed their families while taking money away from the cultists.

2.) What is the significance of the cult? It occurs to me that there is a possibility that the cult is simply an innocent faction where the "Paladin" is more than he seems. Investigate the possibility that the Paladin is causing trouble for a legitimate religion. Be careful not to go off unprepared. Just because the Paladin is harassing a legitimate faith, does not mean he's rubbing his hands together and planning his next evil adventure, he may just be honestly mistaken. Try to reason with the Paladin, if the Paladin won't see reason, if this is a feudal society, go and complain to the feudal overlord or his agents. Explain that there is a Paladin who is causing trouble for the legitimate business interests of his fief and that all he has to do is sign a document requesting that the Paladin leave his fief and stop causing trouble. If it's not a real feudal system, go complain to the Paladin's religious superiors.

3.) What is the commoners' interest in the situation? They likely want to have a position to support their families. Can the Paladin reasonably give the peasants a replacement position? Or is he planning to ride off into the sunset after he's ruined the local economy? Explain to the Paladin that this is a long term problem that he is creating and that he had better be ready to back up what he's about to do. If he's not willing to see this through to the end, he needs to quit it. If the Paladin isn't willing to see this through, have your best fighter challenge him to a trial by combat and let the gods decide who is right and who is dead.

4.) Another solution to the problem is to go to the local potion shop and pick up some diplomacy enhancing potions. Drink them and then use your great skill in diplomancy to convince the Paladin that what he is doing is wrong, and he should be doing something different.

Coidzor
2011-10-15, 12:08 PM
For good measure, if he doesn't turn out to betray you when you're destroying the death cult, you should probably gank the Pally.

Mark Hall
2011-10-15, 01:57 PM
I'll add to the chorus of "Just pay the miners". It's simple, it's efficient, and it sidesteps almost all of the issues (the other issue is them just taking the money and going back to work, but I doubt most would).

hewhosaysfish
2011-10-15, 02:26 PM
I'll add to the chorus of "Just pay the miners". It's simple, it's efficient, and it sidesteps almost all of the issues (the other issue is them just taking the money and going back to work, but I doubt most would).

Or instead of offering them a lump sum to not work, offer them twice what the bad guys were paying so that they work for *you*.
See if you can build a giant statue to a good god. Why pursue a scorched earth policy?

huttj509
2011-10-15, 04:11 PM
Pay miners to go elsewhere.

Foreman comes to complain...hey, he's evil...maybe in cahoots with the death cult.

Pay him, if he refuses, kill him.

Remaining miners now get to choose between the carrot and the stick, they'll pick the gold.

Demolish a few of the mine support beams so it will be difficult to reopen.

When the cult comes to collect their goods, and see the devastated mine, grab one from behind and get some more information about the cult, maybe they have pamphlets.

Now you know if you should hunt down the cult itself.

Steward
2011-10-15, 05:33 PM
Or instead of offering them a lump sum to not work, offer them twice what the bad guys were paying so that they work for *you*.
See if you can build a giant statue to a good god. Why pursue a scorched earth policy?

I really like this idea. The miners don't actually belong to the cult, right? They just happened to be employed by them for the purposes of this project. Just repurpose their resources.

(And if violence really is unavoidable, you can do non-lethal damage, right? I doubt that these guys are strong enough to really shrug off Deep Slumber (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/deepSlumber.htm) or, better yet, Calm Emotions (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/calmEmotions.htm)... or even Enthrall (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/enthrall.htm)! These aren't permanent solutions but they work if you need to get them to not provoke bloodshed or to get them to listen to a proposal.

Mike_G
2011-10-17, 11:07 PM
I'll add to the chorus of "Just pay the miners". It's simple, it's efficient, and it sidesteps almost all of the issues (the other issue is them just taking the money and going back to work, but I doubt most would).

If somebody offered me a year's pay to walk off the job, I certainly wouldn't be back at work the next day. I think I'd pack up the wife and kids and find another place to work, preferably far away from the last job site.

Especially if the guy who paid me to not be there had a big sword in the other hand.

Mark Hall
2011-10-18, 10:14 AM
If somebody offered me a year's pay to walk off the job, I certainly wouldn't be back at work the next day. I think I'd pack up the wife and kids and find another place to work, preferably far away from the last job site.

Especially if the guy who paid me to not be there had a big sword in the other hand.

And had the implied "If you don't take this offer, my second option is to beat the crap out of you until you go away."

Sipex
2011-10-18, 10:26 AM
I dunno, solution here to me seems to be "Ignore the paladin, use the shipping of the marble to find the death cult on your own and save everyone the trouble."

Mike_G
2011-10-18, 12:22 PM
And had the implied "If you don't take this offer, my second option is to beat the crap out of you until you go away."

Exactly.

I think of this as improving the intelligence of commoners by natural selection.

It's a service to society, really.