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faircoin
2013-07-21, 03:50 PM
I have a wizard in D&D 3.5e with the following attributes.

STR 8, DEX 14, CON 14, INT 18, WIS 8, CHA 8.

This is fine, right? Not very believable, but the DM said OK, and the players were OK with my obvious min-maxxing. (Actually, I don't think they know I'm min-maxxing, even though I spelled it out very clearly for them. They still think monks and fighters are more OP than wizards. Especially monks with vow of poverty. Oh the horror.)

Often times when ethics gets brought up in character, I have my wizard contribute intellectually to the discussion. This was partially a result of me having studied ethics academically, so I could contribute more than others at the table. Most everyone was fine with this. DM and players.

Except one player, who said that ethics is WIS, and since my WIS was 8, my wizard can't discuss ethics. I definitely wasn't allowed to show up our party cleric, who had a WIS of 16.

:(

What do you think? I could just ignore the player, but since we're all reasonable people, I think I should put more thought into this.

Grod_The_Giant
2013-07-21, 03:58 PM
There are two reasons to ignore this "advice." Firstly, it's wrong.


Wisdom describes a characterís willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition. While Intelligence represents oneís ability to analyze information, Wisdom represents being in tune with and aware of oneís surroundings.
There ain't nothing in there about ethics.

Secondly, it's your character, not your friend's. You're the only one who can choose how he thinks and acts. Not even the DM is allowed to take that away from you. Kindly thank you friend for his advice and play your character how you'd like.


If, for some reason, you want to heed his advice, you could have your wizard weigh all the relevant ethical options, but be unable to decide which is correct-- after all, you can argue any side philosophically...

faircoin
2013-07-21, 04:10 PM
Wisdom describes a characterís willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition. While Intelligence represents oneís ability to analyze information, Wisdom represents being in tune with and aware of oneís surroundings.

I agree that ethics is strictly an INT endeavor in real life, but given the vagueness of WIS' definition, some would argue that ethics fits under WIS since it cannot be separated from intuition.

Although, strictly speaking, neither can analytical thought. In which case the INT WIS distinction becomes irrelevant, but since we have word of god that in the D&D universe it's relevant, we must separate INT and WIS. At which point we have to determine whether ethics is more analytical (INT) or more intuition (WIS).

It also makes more sense from a fluff perspective. It's clerics (WIS casters), not wizards (INT), after all, who devote their lives to ethics. Not exactly proof, but very suggestive, I think.

Alex12
2013-07-21, 04:16 PM
Keep in mind that in D&D, ethics is to a certain degree empirical.
After all, spells like Detect Evil/Good/Law/Chaos actually exist.
Now, that's not to say that the Cleric couldn't weigh in on the subject, but that would be due to his own experiences.

Personally, I'd say it would be more Int-based, myself.

If you really have to justify it, argue that with an Int of 18, of course your wizard has read a lot of books and such on the topic. Depending on the cleric's stats, you could point out that he's spent most of his time immersed in a single ethical system (that of his god) while you've been less constrained.

EDIT: Also point out that the Knowledge skills, which this touches on, are Int-based.

Bulhakov
2013-07-21, 04:27 PM
High Int and low Wis immediately makes me think of Sheldon Cooper.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0xgjUhEG3U

The way I see it is that your character should be able to discuss ethics theory all he wants, but would probably have very little understanding of the practical consequences of applying that theory in real life.

faircoin
2013-07-21, 04:47 PM
If you really have to justify it, argue that with an Int of 18, of course your wizard has read a lot of books and such on the topic. Depending on the cleric's stats, you could point out that he's spent most of his time immersed in a single ethical system (that of his god) while you've been less constrained.

The difference between a theologian and an ethicist, huh? Sounds reasonable.


EDIT: Also point out that the Knowledge skills, which this touches on, are Int-based.

Problematic reasoning, I think. Most learned job skills are very arguably under knowledge, including diplomatic behavior and foreign affairs (inextricably tied; it's about knowing how to engineer incentives). In the D&D universe, however, this is strictly CHA.


High Int and low Wis immediately makes me think of Sheldon Cooper.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0xgjUhEG3U

The way I see it is that your character should be able to discuss ethics theory all he wants, but would probably have very little understanding of the practical consequences of applying that theory in real life.

It's also the case that no really accomplished STEM researcher in real life (none of my professors or colleagues, at least!) behave in this fashion. It seems that INT usually is coupled with WIS in high academia, contrary to popular belief.

The last time I think I saw some STEM person with this kind of behavior was in undergrad. That person didn't last very long.

In general, I don't think my character will be changing his behavior. Who gives a crap about the crunchy attributes. My character will be roleplayed as philosophically fluffy.

Kalaska'Agathas
2013-07-21, 04:49 PM
A character with a Wis of 8 can still weigh in on matters of Wisdom - they're just a bit shy of average when it comes to said faculty, not completely lacking it. Too, Ethics is a matter which can be approached from several positions, the intuitive and analytical being only two out of many possibilities. I think the issue with your compatriot is one of a false dilemma - they think there's but one approach when in fact there are many, and one needn't exclude the others.

I think it could be the catalyst for some interesting party dynamics, personally - the Cleric may understand ethics from the orthodoxy and practice of their faith or church, whereas your Wizard understands ethics in terms of philosophy and academic study. Another character, having neither the ecclesiastic or academic understanding of Ethics may approach it from the position of Military Courtesy and standards, or a professional code (like that of a guild of blacksmiths, or perhaps a "Thieves' Code"), or even the salt-of-the-earth, common sense approach of a Commoner (in the sense of a person without title or rank, not the class).

In your situation, I would probably point out the false dilemma, and continue to play my character as I wished to.

Gnome Alone
2013-07-21, 04:50 PM
very little understanding of the practical consequences of applying that theory in real life
I wouldn't even go that far. 8 WIS is not actually that low. With 8 WIS and CHA I'd say you could just be kinda vapid and surly.

Rosstin
2013-07-21, 04:51 PM
you could have your wizard weigh all the relevant ethical options, but be unable to decide which is correct-- after all, you can argue any side philosophically...


The way I see it is that your character should be able to discuss ethics theory all he wants, but would probably have very little understanding of the practical consequences of applying that theory in real life.

These are both good suggestions.

Honestly, I think that you should play up your character's lack of Wisdom and Charisma a little bit. Your wisdom and charisma are a little below average. You have an extremely high int. I think if you develop your character to have some blind spots in his thinking, it will be more interesting and deliberate than if you just play the character like yourself.

faircoin
2013-07-21, 05:35 PM
I think it could be the catalyst for some interesting party dynamics, personally - the Cleric may understand ethics from the orthodoxy and practice of their faith or church, whereas your Wizard understands ethics in terms of philosophy and academic study. Another character, having neither the ecclesiastic or academic understanding of Ethics may approach it from the position of Military Courtesy and standards, or a professional code (like that of a guild of blacksmiths, or perhaps a "Thieves' Code"), or even the salt-of-the-earth, common sense approach of a Commoner (in the sense of a person without title or rank, not the class).

I think this is a very good applied analysis.

Let me change the question a little, though. If I was playing a fighter with optimal attribute distribution for spring attack/tripping (16 STR, 13 INT, 13 DEX, 14 CON, 10 WIS, and 8 CHA), could I roleplay as a smarter tactician than our party wizard (18 INT)?

Alex12
2013-07-21, 05:40 PM
I think this is a very good applied analysis.

Let me change the question a little, though. If I was playing a fighter with optimal attribute distribution for spring attack/tripping (16 STR, 13 INT, 13 DEX, 14 CON, 10 WIS, and 8 CHA), could I roleplay as a smarter tactician than our party wizard (18 INT)?

Partly it would depend on background and stuff, and if you were actually a better tactician than the guy playing the wizard.
But I'd say it's absolutely plausible. After all, you've got training and experience in tactics and such, and he's presumably an academic-ish. Now, if he's, say, an ex-military warmage (not the class, but a wizard employed by the military for magic blasty type stuff) then it's more problematic.

denthor
2013-07-21, 05:40 PM
If you have access to LoGo on Direct tv watch Daria. She has a very high intelligence with a mid range wisdom and a low charisma.

Her sister Quinn has an intelligence and Charisma but even less wisdom.

With 8's that you have (str, wis, cha) I see a wimp that always needs to be right. Not correct.

You cling to thing even in the face of logic until you are proven wrong by books you wizard you. Ethics is how you treat others not what you know or do not know.

You do not say what your world view(alignment) is.

You can see what would work but can not implement or plan the combat in due to lack of patience with fools and the less intelligent.

So yeah tell him sit down and...

But you may also be taking up a lot of time with discussion and he wants to get on to the combat. That happens to and we do not realize so that player is tring to limit the chatter.

Alejandro
2013-07-21, 05:46 PM
They still think monks and fighters are more OP than wizards. Especially monks with vow of poverty. Oh the horror.)

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Oh, man. Thank you for that.

I hope you are planning on crushing this notion into the dirt, and enjoying it :)

erikun
2013-07-21, 06:08 PM
INT would be the measure by which a character can discuss ethics. WIS is the measure by which a character can apply them to a specific setting. As such, I don't see a problem with your character discussing the measure of ethics in an academic setting, although discussing how to apply said ethics to a realistic situation would probably have him lacking.

Of course, this is just the justifications behind the character's actions. You're still free to run your character as you wish, and the other players shouldn't be butting in on how to do so.

faircoin
2013-07-21, 06:14 PM
Partly it would depend on background and stuff... Now, if he's, say, an ex-military warmage (not the class, but a wizard employed by the military for magic blasty type stuff) then it's more problematic.

Say the wizard is an ex-general or something, and has all the ranks in profession (military officer) but...


and if you were actually a better tactician than the guy playing the wizard

...I turn out to be a better tactician. How should we resolve this fluff-wise?


I hope you are planning on crushing this notion into the dirt, and enjoying it :)

W-what? Why would I do that? Yes, I am going into dweomerkeeper, but only to wish for stupid things and gate in rubber chickens. Yes, I am in the form of a dire tortoise from a persisted shapechange with moment of prescience and celerity, but only to get my full monologue in before the BBEG can act.

If I actually showed them why wizards are OP, they would never let me play wizards again. (In all seriousness, they're good friends, and I'm optimizing for fun times, hmm?)

valadil
2013-07-21, 06:53 PM
Except one player, who said that ethics is WIS, and since my WIS was 8, my wizard can't discuss ethics. I definitely wasn't allowed to show up our party cleric, who had a WIS of 16.

If he wants to argue about whether ethics is int or wis, fine. But telling your your stat means you can't contribute in a discussion isn't. That's the opposite of roleplaying. It kinda makes my head hurt.

Here's how I see it. Keep the ethics discussion in character. Everybody has an opinion. You might respect one character's opinion more than another's. But you don't know that you have stats. You don't know that the other characters have stats. And you certainly don't know what those stats are. Dismissing someone's argument because you imagined that they're bound to a sheet of paper with a fictional number on it just plain doesn't work.

Alex12
2013-07-21, 08:11 PM
Say the wizard is an ex-general or something, and has all the ranks in profession (military officer) but...



...I turn out to be a better tactician. How should we resolve this fluff-wise?

Easy: you, OOC, come up with the tactics, then, OOC, run it past the other guy, and then have it be the wizard's idea.
If someone objects, say you're trying to roleplay while maintaining verisimilitude, since the wizard is actually smarter and more skilled in the field than anyone actually playing, and as such it just makes sense for him to be smarter than the player in such areas.

SimonMoon6
2013-07-21, 08:32 PM
The problem with "wisdom = ethics":

You can have a CE character with a WIS of 18. Is this character an expert on ethics? Can any CE character be an expert on ethics?

awa
2013-07-21, 08:39 PM
There is a difference between understanding ethics and following them. The CE person could easily understand the ethical implications of his action and be able to debate the various methods and implications of different systems of ethics effortlessly and then do the exact opposite becuase hes evil and ethics interferes with what ever his goals happen to be.

Kalaska'Agathas
2013-07-21, 08:57 PM
The problem with "wisdom = ethics":

You can have a CE character with a WIS of 18. Is this character an expert on ethics? Can any CE character be an expert on ethics?

This borders the issue of Relative and Absolute morality, which can be dangerous territory. I'm pretty sure that, in 3.5, morality is supposed to be somewhat absolute, but even then, the ethics of a CE character can be much neglected or they may simply have a different sort of ethics which allow for or even promote their chaotic, evil alignment. In fact, a CE character may be an expert on ethics and yet have no interest in following them (or may wish to actively subvert them). Or they might just be alien - "Blue and Orange Morality" some call it.

So, yes, a CE character can be an expert on ethics.

oball
2013-07-21, 08:58 PM
Easy: you, OOC, come up with the tactics, then, OOC, run it past the other guy, and then have it be the wizard's idea.

This is what my group used to do - the person playing the barbarian with an INT penalty was the most experienced player, so she would regularly suggest plans that her character couldn't have come up with, but the higher intelligence wizard and rogue characters plausibly could have.

The Fury
2013-07-21, 10:21 PM
... This player's opinion has some interesting implications. Like how someone with a WIS of 8 can't participate in an ethics discussion, like at all. This seems to suggest that someone with below average WIS cannot come up with an opinion on what's right or wrong, even an erroneous one. I guess if the clerics player wants to contribute more to the ethical discussions, let him/her, but if (s)he doesn't that's not on you.
This is overlooking the notion that ethics is WIS-based seems pretty dubious. Though if the DM doesn't have an issue with what you're doing, gently reminding this player of that is something you could do.

Mr Beer
2013-07-21, 10:38 PM
That player sounds annoying and I wouldn't be concerned about their opinion on this matter. In fact I would likely take a relevant skill and discuss ethics at least once a gaming session from now on, that's just me though.

NichG
2013-07-21, 11:26 PM
Int-based ethics:

"It is wrong to steal because of the instability of a system in which it is ethically acceptable to steal. In such a system we would have no property rights and this would therefore decrease the motivation towards individual enterprise. Furthermore, we would encounter a tradgedy of the commons type situation in which a number of individuals would parasitize the work of others, without having any disadvantage to themselves for applying this strategy. Therefore, we should apprehend this thief."

Wis-based ethics:

"This thief isn't stealing because he needs to, he's stealing because he wants to. It doesn't look like he's suffering for money given what we've seen of his gear and his targets, so he probably is doing this for attention or the thrill of it. So really, his behavior is just harmful without redeeming qualities and so we should apprehend him (though here are a few ideas to redeem him or direct him towards more useful endeavors, such as employing him as a spy or scout)"

Tengu_temp
2013-07-22, 04:02 AM
If low wisdom stopped people from discussing ethics, the internet would be a much quieter place.

Sidenote: 8 in a stat is only slightly below 10, but it's the lowest you can get in most point buy systems, so it's alright to play such a character as more than a bit lacking in that certain department.

holywhippet
2013-07-22, 06:01 AM
That same logic suggests if you have one player with a much higher charisma score then the rest of the party the others should almost always follow their lead since charisma is all about force of personality and leadership.

From my point of view, a highly intelligent character could have a working knowledge of ethics through their studies. Coming up with their own take on ethics might be tricky due to their low wisdom though.

Bulhakov
2013-07-22, 06:30 AM
I think this is a very good applied analysis.

Let me change the question a little, though. If I was playing a fighter with optimal attribute distribution for spring attack/tripping (16 STR, 13 INT, 13 DEX, 14 CON, 10 WIS, and 8 CHA), could I roleplay as a smarter tactician than our party wizard (18 INT)?

As long as you had character background to back it up (and the wizard doesn), why not. However, I had a very experienced player playing a min-maxed beastmaster from a jungle tribe that I had to frequently remind "your character had no experience with (insert-concept-here) and your INT score is waaay to low to come up with the intrigue/strategy you're suggesting".

It's all part of the roleplay - just like your character can't hit harder just because you're physically strong, so shouldn't he think smarter just because you're smart.

Coidzor
2013-07-22, 06:35 AM
Ethics as in the subset of philosophy is very much Int-based as far as understanding it and studying it. For an actual real break through in the field you're probably looking at dumb luck or a mixture of high-ish to high scores in all three mental stats

As far as a person's personal sense of whether a particular action pings as right or wrong to them before they do it, yeah, I could see wisdom playing a role in that, especially since alcohol is portrayed as a wis-damaging substance...

KacyCrawford
2013-07-22, 06:58 AM
I agree with Grod_The_Giant.

prufock
2013-07-22, 07:15 AM
Let me change the question a little, though. If I was playing a fighter with optimal attribute distribution for spring attack/tripping (16 STR, 13 INT, 13 DEX, 14 CON, 10 WIS, and 8 CHA), could I roleplay as a smarter tactician than our party wizard (18 INT)?

Sure. "Listen, slim - you might be an expert on magical theory, and planar legends, and where to sit on a freaking couch, but this is WAR."


Often times when ethics gets brought up in character, I have my wizard contribute intellectually to the discussion. This was partially a result of me having studied ethics academically, so I could contribute more than others at the table. Most everyone was fine with this. DM and players.

Except one player, who said that ethics is WIS, and since my WIS was 8, my wizard can't discuss ethics. I definitely wasn't allowed to show up our party cleric, who had a WIS of 16.

The other player is being a tremendous ass. Ignore him.

If you want an in-game reason to disregard his ignorance, point out that there is no "ethics" skill, but if there were it would likely be a Knowledge skill, which keys off of intelligence. It could be filed under Religion or Local (which includes laws, customs, traditions). However, you certainly aren't obligated to explain yourself to this clown, who is breaking one of the cardinal rules of roleplaying - don't tell other people how to play their characters.

valadil
2013-07-22, 08:40 AM
There is a difference between understanding ethics and following them. The CE person could easily understand the ethical implications of his action and be able to debate the various methods and implications of different systems of ethics effortlessly and then do the exact opposite becuase hes evil and ethics interferes with what ever his goals happen to be.

Word. Another alternative to the hypocrite idea is that the character could understand most of ethics, but get one or two key points wrong. I've never found monstrously evil characters to be believable. But those villains who you agree with 99% of the time, except when they take things a step too far, they make great characters.

Joe the Rat
2013-07-22, 09:00 AM
Lessee...

High Intelligence, coupled with some ranks in Knowledge (Religion) or (Local), means the character not only has logic, but knows what the heck he is talking about. If you don't have the knowledge, you are reasoning well, but still talking out of your donkey saddle.

Lower Wisdom, however, means he might not actually be right in his arguments. You can debate eloquently and logically, and still come to the wrong conclusions. You are not so far off that you're always wrong (and heck, maybe it's just the willpower and social reading you lack), but the cleric is more likely to be right (direct channels to entities literally made out of ethics notwithstanding)

Lower Charisma also means that you are going to be less persuasive. You can have a sound, rational argument, but not be a terribly convincing speaker.


High Int and low Wis immediately makes me think of Sheldon Cooper.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0xgjUhEG3U

The way I see it is that your character should be able to discuss ethics theory all he wants, but would probably have very little understanding of the practical consequences of applying that theory in real life.With that stat block, he pretty much is Sheldon Cooper :smallwink:

Mutazoia
2013-07-22, 09:37 AM
With 8's that you have (str, wis, cha) I see a wimp that always needs to be right. Not correct.

Soooo...your average Forum troll? (Irony of this post is intentional)

Terazul
2013-07-22, 09:46 AM
Yeah, your character is fine. For some reason people seem to take anything less than 10 as "completely an irrevocably crippled in that sense". When it just means you're a bit less... fine-tuned on average really. It's a -1 to rolls compared to a +0.

Also, in terms of what ability governs the realm of ethics, I'd have to go with Int here, given that an Int above 2 is what governs sentience and free thought to begin with. Otherwise, we've got Mr Eagle over there with an Int of 2 and Wis of 14; I doubt it has any knowledge of good and evil. Note that Celestial/Fiendish creatures to animal counterparts have to have an Int of at least 3, presumably so they can actively understand what their Good/Evilness actually means.

Mutazoia
2013-07-22, 10:03 AM
There are quite a few people who know quite a lot about a subject but still make poor judgement calls about said subject. Stock brokers who lose a fortune on long shots, Generals who march their platemail laden troops across a scorching desert, Doctors who leave surgical tools inside a patient... Simply because you have a low Wis score does not mean that you can not know a thing or two about ethics. I'm sure your prof. at Uni was quite an intelligent, knowledgeable expert on the subject, but I'm also sure he's made some less than moral decisions during his career. Having the knowledge is one thing, having the wisdom to listen to that inner voice telling you this is a bad idea is something else.

Look at it another way..your high Int means you can know a lot about a subject, your low Wis/Chr means you see nothing wrong with rubbing that knowledge in other peoples faces despite the obvious consiquences.

Sheldon: Iím not going to apologise, I didnít say anything that wasnít true.

Mrs Cooper: Now you listen here, I have been telling you since you were four years old, itís okay to be smarter than everybody but you canít go around pointing it out.

Sheldon: Why not?

Mrs Cooper: Because people donít like it. Remember all the ass-kickings you got from the neighbour kids?

VeisuItaTyhjyys
2013-07-22, 12:32 PM
With regard to the OP, I agree that there isn't any solid reason to say ethics are wisdom, rather than intelligence. Even so, that doesn't seem likely to get you too far as an argument, since the stats are arbitrary enough that it's easy to back up both positions and essentially impossible to prove either definitively. I would go with the argument that intelligence certainly represents memory and academic ability, since it governs knowledge skills and is specifically stated to include memory, and thus your wizard may not come up with a novel ethical idea or system on his own, he is certainly more than capable of reading, comprehending, and retaining the ideas of others, and can contribute from the knowledge he's acquired.


Say the wizard is an ex-general or something, and has all the ranks in profession (military officer) but . . . I turn out to be a better tactician. How should we resolve this fluff-wise?

This is pretty easy to fluff around, really. If the wizard is an ex-general with ranks in Profession (Military Officer) rather than, say, Profession (Soldier), maybe she went into command as soon as she graduated the academy, and has little to no practical experience with small unit tactics, having always been focused on the bigger picture. She may knows how to command armies, but you know how to enact those plans on the ground level.


The problem with "wisdom = ethics":

You can have a CE character with a WIS of 18. Is this character an expert on ethics? Can any CE character be an expert on ethics?

I think at least some understanding of ethics is essential to an evil character, since animals are neutral regardless of their behavior; seemingly, part of being D&D evil is knowing that what you're doing is wrong, or at least having a certain capacity for that knowledge.

Also, I'm not too familiar with Big Bang Theory, but I'd say Sheldon's boorishness is arguably more a reflection of a low Charisma than a low Wisdom, given that Wisdom has nothing to do with how you influence other people, by RAW; the only social skill governed by Wisdom is Sense Motive. Of course, one could argue on the other hand that Wisdom is knowing what to say and what not say, and Charisma is simply the skill that lets people get away with it; Sheldon Cooper and Tony Stark are both pretty full of themselves and dismissive of those around them, but Stark pulls it off with enough charm that his arrogance becomes likable.

Knaight
2013-07-22, 12:44 PM
Word. Another alternative to the hypocrite idea is that the character could understand most of ethics, but get one or two key points wrong. I've never found monstrously evil characters to be believable. But those villains who you agree with 99% of the time, except when they take things a step too far, they make great characters.

Alternately, they could be applying ethics perfectly well to the world as they understand it, but factual defects in that understanding lead to them doing terrible things.

Segev
2013-07-22, 02:01 PM
I would like to take this opportunity to offer a somewhat satirical but hopefully illustrative discussion between ... well, we'll see if I make it all 16 characters, but here's the intended cast:

L.G. Cler: Lawful Good individual with high Wis and average Int
L.G. Wiz: Lawful Good individual with high Int and average Wis

...and, actually, everybody here can figure out the others, who follow the same format.

L.G. Wiz: "Ethics? It's a complex issue, with many corner cases, but can usually be reduced to base principles. We need well-defined rules that promote the common good, and this is best achieved by encouraging individual enterprise and responsibility through rewards freely given by the beneficiaries of others' actions. Punishment must be meted out when people take from others - whether life, liberty, or property - dishonestly. Sometimes, the laws may be flawed, and guilty men will get away with something; that is just a sign we need to re-evaluate our laws. But no system is perfect."

N.G. Wiz: "My esteemed colleague is quite right, but he fails to see that when the law screws up, sometimes we need to do more than merely re-evaluate it. Sometimes, the greater good does require the rules to be bent, if not outright broken. These are, after all, the corner cases. We can try to re-evaluate and fix the laws so they aren't broken again, but the right thing must happen even if it abrogates order a little bit. To do otherwise is to encourage the specific kind of malefaction that hunts down these corner cases and undermines the good of all for its own selfish benefit."

L.N. Cler: "No! You can't break the law just because it's convenient! Law separates us from savagery. A little individual tragedy and a little individual vice is no excuse to upturn the established order. That sort of corruption leads to madness, because the "common good" is subjective! You can't say one thing is good just because it benefits the many, and throw out the rules because of it. That way lies mob rule."

L.G. Cler: "I'm afraid my friend has a point, though he puts too much allowance for corruption within the system. L.G. Wiz is actually making the better point, because it is tragic when the innocent are wronged and the guilty allowed to prosper by loophole in the law. It's important for us, as the keepers of the law and the stewards of the good of all, to attempt to help the innocent when that happens, and to keep a closer eye on the malefactors who abused the letter of the law so that we can help the law-abiding know who to trust."

L.N. Wiz: "Don't be silly. These 'malefactors' of whom you speak, in controlled numbers, do us a service! They find for us those 'loopholes' so that we may close them. At the same time, it is the individual responsibility of each citizen to be diligent and aware; make use of a well-constructed system, and most abuses will fail as the intelligent agent will know better than to fall for the scheme, legal or not. Still, promoting the public trust is essential to maintaining a common order. As L.N. Cler said, we must adhere to our laws, because those are what we've agreed to. We may not change them on a whim, but all must trust that the law is applied impartially, which is why our N.G. associates are so woefully mistaken."

N.G. Cler: "Have you no heart? How can you be so cold towards the victims of such abuses of the law? No, I agree, we can't rely on vigilante justice to take revenge, but we must help the innocent. Only then will people feel safe enough to work together, and besides, it's only right! And of course we have to change the law when it is abused. Heck, it is not without merit to have some leeway given to our judges so that they can declare somebody in defiance of the spirit of the law so that they need not rule in their favor. But we do need to be careful, there, because that could allow evil men to seek judicial power to abuse such a clause."

L.G. Wiz: "Such attraction to so abusable a power is why we must adhere to the law's letter at all times, I am afraid."

L.N. Cler: "Indeed. The clever discovery of loopholes is how we achieve things that need to be done without abusing the public trust and descending into anarchy."

L.E. Wiz: "Not to mention, it's profitable. You speak of law as if it exists to coddle the weak. Not so. It exists so we all can work together peaceably, knowing that the rules are applied as stated. It keeps us from wasting resources on violence, and ensures that the most fit to use them wind up with said resources. It takes great intelligence to understand how all these complex societal agreements interact. And with that intellect comes the power of mind to exploit the resources and direct the lesser minds and bodies most effectively."

L.E. Cler: "Absolutely. You don't want anarchy, and you don't want the weak dictating to the strong. Both ways lead to barbarism. Do what you say you will, exploit what is yours, and take what you can get from the fools who do not deserve it. Laws exist to support the best of the best, and to protect from the mobs of the wasteful and weak. If you cannot operate within them, you don't deserve what you have."

C.G. Cler: "And this is the kind of person your blind adherence to law empowers! Tyrants who will bend and twist words until you're their slaves, and mock you for not thanking them for it! 'The common good' is best served when men are free. Yes, agreements between willing men and women must be honored, but it's the spirit in which the agreement was made that's most important. Only when one is maliciously backing out should it be enforced by force of 'law,' and even then, it's best dealt with personally. When people agree in good faith, they can adjust the agreement as they go along, or back out with no harm done."

N.G. Wiz: "Your ideal is lovely, my good man, but a little naive. Even the best of intentions can lead to two mutually exclusive views of an agreement. Sometimes, it must be enforced because we cannot be certain of the hearts and minds of those involved, and a fair way for harm to be minimized must be arbitrated."

C.G. Wiz: "Oh, arbitration is all well and good, but it ultimately must come down to the intentions of the participants. When one is seeking to exploit a loophole or abuse the letter of an agreement, the agreement is itself meaningless. Obviously, if two good-hearted men work together in good faith, the arbiter's job is simply to help them remember their intentions and respect for each other. If one or both men seek advantage through malicious indifference, they should not have reasonable expectation of any more 'fair' treatment. Yes, agreements were made, but unconscionable agreements should never be enforced, lest they allow evil to triumph.

"Frankly, if such evil does come out ahead under the so-called 'law' imposed by imperfect (demi-)human(oid)s, it is not unreasonable for matters to be taken outside the law. Of course, one must be very careful with such actions, lest it be used, itself, to justify evil, but there are times it's quite clear what needs to be done, and shrinking from that is wrong."

C.N. Cler: "Pshaw. Care? Good sirs - and you each know who I mean - people are smarter and cleverer than you give them credit for. They know when they're being messed with. This whole "Law" thing is really just imposition and moralistic prattle designed to make bullies feel good about themselves while they force others to comply.

"If you've been wronged, you know it. Go take care of it yourself. 'Oh, anarchy!' you cry? Only when you promote that 'law' business."

C.E. Cler: "Hah! Exactly! The only 'law' is that of the jungle! Think about it: what is 'law's' power other than that of a bunch of people agreeing to be somebody else's patsy? The only real power is what you can do yourself!"

L.E. Cler: "Fools. Law is the application of the force of the many. It is empowering precisely because the smartest and most dedicated rise to the top, enforcing a natural order far more refined than the brutal chaos you envision."

C.N. Wiz: "Now, now. Again, it is not anarchy that my colleague and I propose. That is the province of our Chaotic Evil friends, who mistake freedom to swing their fists as the right to impact others' faces. No, the objective analysis of things indicates that the only one who can know what is intended is the one who is taking the action. While both C.G. and C.E. grasp the import of this, they both make the slight mistake of thinking that it is their place to arbitrate with others over it.

"Good believes it's only right and fair, while Evil leans more towards ensuring that they get what they want. Both are wrong; the sole responsibility one has is to oneself, and thus also to respect that in others. Only when others wrong you do you take it upon yourself to stop them. But you always take it upon yourself to stop them! Unless you agree, I suppose. And it doesn't hurt to be interested in your friends' situations, because despite what our Lawful gentlemen might say, we do not deny the obvious advantage of strength in numbers. Just the right to demand that all fall in line to give it!"

C.E. Wiz: "Oh, you do like to hear yourself talk. Trying to justify elements of the feel-good 'rules' while claiming to be against rules other than your own. Look. You're a smart guy. Most of you, really, have some understanding of these matters. But you're all getting lost in the details. At the end of the day, there is only one thing that matters: Can I do it, and can you stop me?

"Getting others to work with you makes it more likely you can do it. Whether you do this by beating them up, bribing them, threatening them, or simply deceiving them is irrelevant. And if you can do it on your own, you don't even need to go that far. Just destroy those who get in your way before the 'law' types can band the useful idiots together. And if you're too weak, then solicit bribes by selling yourself to the highest bidder. Get what you can, because only what you can protect is worth anything. Everything else will belong to the stronger, soon enough."

N.E. Wiz: "The flaw in your reasoning is that you blind yourself to the wisdom offered by our Lawful compatriots. Strength in numbers is real, and you get more numbers when those working for you know they are safe in your promises. Your system leads to defection and disloyalty, as the efforts to cling to what they have begins to exceed their devotion to your cause.

"The strong must rule the weak. Rule requires a certain adherence to, well, rules. Not the rigid interpretations of L.E. Wiz and Cler, and certainly not the nonsense about 'greater good' being served by them prattled by the Good contingent. But yes, rule that the minions at least know will be enforced and respected. When you promise them something, they serve best if they know they'll get it even if they exhaust themselves in your service and can no longer personally enforce it."

N.E. Cler: "Of course. But that doesn't mean rewarding failure or disloyalty just because they twist some letter of the rules into place! They know when they've earned it for real, and so does the wise leader. Punishment and reward for results, not just for personal immediate gain and not just for toeing but not crossing the line. That gets results!"

valadil
2013-07-22, 02:19 PM
Alternately, they could be applying ethics perfectly well to the world as they understand it, but factual defects in that understanding lead to them doing terrible things.

I think that's one of the things I meant at first, but it didn't come out that way in retrospect. The "one or two key points" thing should have applied to their ethics or their understanding of the world.

TY for clarifying!

denthor
2013-07-22, 02:24 PM
I would like to take this opportunity to offer a somewhat satirical but hopefully illustrative discussion between ... well, we'll see if I make it all 16 characters, but here's the intended cast:

L.G. Cler: Lawful Good individual with high Wis and average Int
L.G. Wiz: Lawful Good individual with high Int and average Wis

...and, actually, everybody here can figure out the others, who follow the same format.

L.G. Wiz: "Ethics? It's a complex issue, with many corner cases, but can usually be reduced to base principles. We need well-defined rules that promote the common good, and this is best achieved by encouraging individual enterprise and responsibility through rewards freely given by the beneficiaries of others' actions. Punishment must be meted out when people take from others - whether life, liberty, or property - dishonestly. Sometimes, the laws may be flawed, and guilty men will get away with something; that is just a sign we need to re-evaluate our laws. But no system is perfect."

N.G. Wiz: "My esteemed colleague is quite right, but he fails to see that when the law screws up, sometimes we need to do more than merely re-evaluate it. Sometimes, the greater good does require the rules to be bent, if not outright broken. These are, after all, the corner cases. We can try to re-evaluate and fix the laws so they aren't broken again, but the right thing must happen even if it abrogates order a little bit. To do otherwise is to encourage the specific kind of malefaction that hunts down these corner cases and undermines the good of all for its own selfish benefit."

L.N. Cler: "No! You can't break the law just because it's convenient! Law separates us from savagery. A little individual tragedy and a little individual vice is no excuse to upturn the established order. That sort of corruption leads to madness, because the "common good" is subjective! You can't say one thing is good just because it benefits the many, and throw out the rules because of it. That way lies mob rule."

L.G. Cler: "I'm afraid my friend has a point, though he puts too much allowance for corruption within the system. L.G. Wiz is actually making the better point, because it is tragic when the innocent are wronged and the guilty allowed to prosper by loophole in the law. It's important for us, as the keepers of the law and the stewards of the good of all, to attempt to help the innocent when that happens, and to keep a closer eye on the malefactors who abused the letter of the law so that we can help the law-abiding know who to trust."

L.N. Wiz: "Don't be silly. These 'malefactors' of whom you speak, in controlled numbers, do us a service! They find for us those 'loopholes' so that we may close them. At the same time, it is the individual responsibility of each citizen to be diligent and aware; make use of a well-constructed system, and most abuses will fail as the intelligent agent will know better than to fall for the scheme, legal or not. Still, promoting the public trust is essential to maintaining a common order. As L.N. Cler said, we must adhere to our laws, because those are what we've agreed to. We may not change them on a whim, but all must trust that the law is applied impartially, which is why our N.G. associates are so woefully mistaken."

N.G. Cler: "Have you no heart? How can you be so cold towards the victims of such abuses of the law? No, I agree, we can't rely on vigilante justice to take revenge, but we must help the innocent. Only then will people feel safe enough to work together, and besides, it's only right! And of course we have to change the law when it is abused. Heck, it is not without merit to have some leeway given to our judges so that they can declare somebody in defiance of the spirit of the law so that they need not rule in their favor. But we do need to be careful, there, because that could allow evil men to seek judicial power to abuse such a clause."

L.G. Wiz: "Such attraction to so abusable a power is why we must adhere to the law's letter at all times, I am afraid."

L.N. Cler: "Indeed. The clever discovery of loopholes is how we achieve things that need to be done without abusing the public trust and descending into anarchy."

L.E. Wiz: "Not to mention, it's profitable. You speak of law as if it exists to coddle the weak. Not so. It exists so we all can work together peaceably, knowing that the rules are applied as stated. It keeps us from wasting resources on violence, and ensures that the most fit to use them wind up with said resources. It takes great intelligence to understand how all these complex societal agreements interact. And with that intellect comes the power of mind to exploit the resources and direct the lesser minds and bodies most effectively."

L.E. Cler: "Absolutely. You don't want anarchy, and you don't want the weak dictating to the strong. Both ways lead to barbarism. Do what you say you will, exploit what is yours, and take what you can get from the fools who do not deserve it. Laws exist to support the best of the best, and to protect from the mobs of the wasteful and weak. If you cannot operate within them, you don't deserve what you have."

C.G. Cler: "And this is the kind of person your blind adherence to law empowers! Tyrants who will bend and twist words until you're their slaves, and mock you for not thanking them for it! 'The common good' is best served when men are free. Yes, agreements between willing men and women must be honored, but it's the spirit in which the agreement was made that's most important. Only when one is maliciously backing out should it be enforced by force of 'law,' and even then, it's best dealt with personally. When people agree in good faith, they can adjust the agreement as they go along, or back out with no harm done."

N.G. Wiz: "Your ideal is lovely, my good man, but a little naive. Even the best of intentions can lead to two mutually exclusive views of an agreement. Sometimes, it must be enforced because we cannot be certain of the hearts and minds of those involved, and a fair way for harm to be minimized must be arbitrated."

C.G. Wiz: "Oh, arbitration is all well and good, but it ultimately must come down to the intentions of the participants. When one is seeking to exploit a loophole or abuse the letter of an agreement, the agreement is itself meaningless. Obviously, if two good-hearted men work together in good faith, the arbiter's job is simply to help them remember their intentions and respect for each other. If one or both men seek advantage through malicious indifference, they should not have reasonable expectation of any more 'fair' treatment. Yes, agreements were made, but unconscionable agreements should never be enforced, lest they allow evil to triumph.

"Frankly, if such evil does come out ahead under the so-called 'law' imposed by imperfect (demi-)human(oid)s, it is not unreasonable for matters to be taken outside the law. Of course, one must be very careful with such actions, lest it be used, itself, to justify evil, but there are times it's quite clear what needs to be done, and shrinking from that is wrong."

C.N. Cler: "Pshaw. Care? Good sirs - and you each know who I mean - people are smarter and cleverer than you give them credit for. They know when they're being messed with. This whole "Law" thing is really just imposition and moralistic prattle designed to make bullies feel good about themselves while they force others to comply.

"If you've been wronged, you know it. Go take care of it yourself. 'Oh, anarchy!' you cry? Only when you promote that 'law' business."

C.E. Cler: "Hah! Exactly! The only 'law' is that of the jungle! Think about it: what is 'law's' power other than that of a bunch of people agreeing to be somebody else's patsy? The only real power is what you can do yourself!"

L.E. Cler: "Fools. Law is the application of the force of the many. It is empowering precisely because the smartest and most dedicated rise to the top, enforcing a natural order far more refined than the brutal chaos you envision."

C.N. Wiz: "Now, now. Again, it is not anarchy that my colleague and I propose. That is the province of our Chaotic Evil friends, who mistake freedom to swing their fists as the right to impact others' faces. No, the objective analysis of things indicates that the only one who can know what is intended is the one who is taking the action. While both C.G. and C.E. grasp the import of this, they both make the slight mistake of thinking that it is their place to arbitrate with others over it.

"Good believes it's only right and fair, while Evil leans more towards ensuring that they get what they want. Both are wrong; the sole responsibility one has is to oneself, and thus also to respect that in others. Only when others wrong you do you take it upon yourself to stop them. But you always take it upon yourself to stop them! Unless you agree, I suppose. And it doesn't hurt to be interested in your friends' situations, because despite what our Lawful gentlemen might say, we do not deny the obvious advantage of strength in numbers. Just the right to demand that all fall in line to give it!"

C.E. Wiz: "Oh, you do like to hear yourself talk. Trying to justify elements of the feel-good 'rules' while claiming to be against rules other than your own. Look. You're a smart guy. Most of you, really, have some understanding of these matters. But you're all getting lost in the details. At the end of the day, there is only one thing that matters: Can I do it, and can you stop me?

"Getting others to work with you makes it more likely you can do it. Whether you do this by beating them up, bribing them, threatening them, or simply deceiving them is irrelevant. And if you can do it on your own, you don't even need to go that far. Just destroy those who get in your way before the 'law' types can band the useful idiots together. And if you're too weak, then solicit bribes by selling yourself to the highest bidder. Get what you can, because only what you can protect is worth anything. Everything else will belong to the stronger, soon enough."

N.E. Wiz: "The flaw in your reasoning is that you blind yourself to the wisdom offered by our Lawful compatriots. Strength in numbers is real, and you get more numbers when those working for you know they are safe in your promises. Your system leads to defection and disloyalty, as the efforts to cling to what they have begins to exceed their devotion to your cause.

"The strong must rule the weak. Rule requires a certain adherence to, well, rules. Not the rigid interpretations of L.E. Wiz and Cler, and certainly not the nonsense about 'greater good' being served by them prattled by the Good contingent. But yes, rule that the minions at least know will be enforced and respected. When you promise them something, they serve best if they know they'll get it even if they exhaust themselves in your service and can no longer personally enforce it."

N.E. Cler: "Of course. But that doesn't mean rewarding failure or disloyalty just because they twist some letter of the rules into place! They know when they've earned it for real, and so does the wise leader. Punishment and reward for results, not just for personal immediate gain and not just for toeing but not crossing the line. That gets results!"


Thanks for the smile

Jornophelanthas
2013-07-22, 03:34 PM
If the other player insists that a character with a Wisdom score of 8 is not qualified to discuss ethics, he also implies that low-Wisdom characters (including most effective Barbarians, Bards, Fighters, Sorcerer and Wizards, as well as some rogues) cannot have a meaningful alignment.

Another_Poet
2013-07-22, 04:28 PM
Often times when ethics gets brought up in character, I have my wizard contribute intellectually to the discussion.

...one player... said that ethics is WIS, and since my WIS was 8, my wizard can't discuss ethics.

You could be great at discussing the philosophy of ethics in rational discourse, but then not actually put it into practice in real life. (This is a flaw that has been attributed to various real-world philosophers, not "living" their philosophies.)

This could manifest as talking a good game but then freezing up when you have to make an ethical decision; being rash and impulsive instead of thinking through consequences; or being selfish and unkind but then using elaborate moral arguments to "prove" you are doing the right thing.

All those sound high-Int, low-Wis compatible to me.

Or you could just talk to the player OOC and tell them it's your character.

Aquillion
2013-07-22, 07:05 PM
Even if you want to RP your stats (which is not obligatory; it's your character, so you decide what your stats mean for them), a high intelligence would still justify expounding on an intellectual understanding of morality. You can be someone who has read through all the great writers on morality, and thought about all of their conclusions, and has deep and meaningful opinions on them as befits your incredible intelligence.

You just suck at applying that knowledge in a practical matter. You're like the great philosopher who can write deep books about human nature but whose own personal life is nonetheless a mess.

EDIT: Ah! Someone said the same thing just before me. But anyway, it's true.


I think this is a very good applied analysis.

Let me change the question a little, though. If I was playing a fighter with optimal attribute distribution for spring attack/tripping (16 STR, 13 INT, 13 DEX, 14 CON, 10 WIS, and 8 CHA), could I roleplay as a smarter tactician than our party wizard (18 INT)?Sure. (I mean, 13 int is hardly a slouch, anyway.) Stats and even knowledge ranks are abstractions.

The fact that you have many levels in Fighter and a high BAB means that you have a lot of real-world combat experience, which means that even though you're not a genius like the wizard, in that particular field you can compete.

(However, I'd hesitate at "smarter tactician", because the Wizard also gets to define his character; if he's a combat spellcaster whose entire professional experience has been acting as strategist and spellcaster for an army, he's going to be pretty good at tactics, too. You can both be excellent tacticians and argue over tactics -- with you drawing on your experience and the Wizard drawing on his readings of Tacticus, etc. In general, trying to define yourself as "better than that other PC" is a recipe for problems. You can just be Lu Bu to his Zhuge Liang.)

TuggyNE
2013-07-22, 07:32 PM
I would like to take this opportunity to offer a somewhat satirical but hopefully illustrative discussion between ... well, we'll see if I make it all 16 characters, but here's the intended cast:

L.G. Cler: Lawful Good individual with high Wis and average Int
L.G. Wiz: Lawful Good individual with high Int and average Wis

...and, actually, everybody here can figure out the others, who follow the same format.[snip]

Wow, nice work. But where's the fist-fight? :smalltongue:

Kalaska'Agathas
2013-07-23, 01:13 AM
the Wizard drawing on his readings of Tacticus, etc.

At first I was all "I can get how Tacitus would be germane to the discussion of ethics, I guess (the Annals and Histories offer abundant examples of ethical issues and persons of high and low morals both, after all) but what does that have to do with an understanding of tactics?" Then I read the name again.

In any case, knowledge of tactics is great for armchair fighters/wizards, but professional fighters/wizards study logistics.

faircoin
2013-07-23, 01:31 AM
Int-based ethics:

"It is wrong to steal because of the instability of a system in which it is ethically acceptable to steal. In such a system we would have no property rights and this would therefore decrease the motivation towards individual enterprise. Furthermore, we would encounter a tradgedy of the commons type situation in which a number of individuals would parasitize the work of others, without having any disadvantage to themselves for applying this strategy. Therefore, we should apprehend this thief."

Wis-based ethics:

"This thief isn't stealing because he needs to, he's stealing because he wants to. It doesn't look like he's suffering for money given what we've seen of his gear and his targets, so he probably is doing this for attention or the thrill of it. So really, his behavior is just harmful without redeeming qualities and so we should apprehend him (though here are a few ideas to redeem him or direct him towards more useful endeavors, such as employing him as a spy or scout)"

So, this is my favorite post so far. I think it captures best the intended difference between INT- and WIS-based ethics.


Easy: you, OOC, come up with the tactics, then, OOC, run it past the other guy, and then have it be the wizard's idea.
If someone objects, say you're trying to roleplay while maintaining verisimilitude, since the wizard is actually smarter and more skilled in the field than anyone actually playing, and as such it just makes sense for him to be smarter than the player in such areas.

I thought of this as well, but wizards can't yell tactics as an immediate action in character. And I would prefer not to be obligated to purposefully behave stupidly just because the wizard wasn't cognizant of his plan until that turn. I could always justify it by saying, "We discussed this all beforehand!" But there's also the added disability that I don't get to play a Tarquin without having solid stats in every attribute just because I want to contribute mechanically with an optimally built fighter.

I think I'll just go with, attribute is mechanical, how I roleplay is up to fluff. Unless it was something ridiculous, like INT or WIS 1.

Fortunately, I'm not playing a fighter, but instead a wizard.


Word. Another alternative to the hypocrite idea is that the character could understand most of ethics, but get one or two key points wrong. I've never found monstrously evil characters to be believable. But those villains who you agree with 99% of the time, except when they take things a step too far, they make great characters.

My LE wizard is modeled after some harsher version of Lord Asriel from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. I should've made it a factotum, though. Much more fitting.


Even if you want to RP your stats (which is not obligatory; it's your character, so you decide what your stats mean for them)

As of now, I'm thinking this is best.


(However, I'd hesitate at "smarter tactician", because the Wizard also gets to define his character; if he's a combat spellcaster whose entire professional experience has been acting as strategist and spellcaster for an army, he's going to be pretty good at tactics, too. You can both be excellent tacticians and argue over tactics -- with you drawing on your experience and the Wizard drawing on his readings of Tacticus, etc. In general, trying to define yourself as "better than that other PC" is a recipe for problems. You can just be Lu Bu to his Zhuge Liang.)

I like this consideration as well.

SimonMoon6
2013-07-23, 10:33 PM
I think at least some understanding of ethics is essential to an evil character, since animals are neutral regardless of their behavior; seemingly, part of being D&D evil is knowing that what you're doing is wrong, or at least having a certain capacity for that knowledge.

Well, real-world evil people (sociopaths) tend not to acknowledge that anything they do is wrong. People have a remarkable ability to come up with justifications. I'm always thinking of how any player who starts a sentence with "Summoning undead isn't evil because..." is just an evil person trying to justify why it's okay to do evil things.

Of course, in a D&D world, people can determine whether or not they are evil, which must make their lives very weird.

But in regard to unintelligent creatures always being neutral, I wouldn't say that reflects any knowledge of ethics per se; instead a character can be good or evil only if they are intelligent enough to have the potential to understand that their actions would cause pain or harm or loss of property to another person and having the choice to take or not take that action, being able to care or not care that their actions are harmful or wrong.

But then I also think there could be "good" animals and "evil" animals on an individual basis. I've known cats who were more aware or less aware of the effects on their actions on others.

TuggyNE
2013-07-23, 10:51 PM
Well, real-world evil people (sociopaths) tend not to acknowledge that anything they do is wrong. People have a remarkable ability to come up with justifications. I'm always thinking of how any player who starts a sentence with "Summoning undead isn't evil because..." is just an evil person trying to justify why it's okay to do evil things.

Of course, in a D&D world, people can determine whether or not they are evil, which must make their lives very weird.

You have vastly less faith in the ability of people to justify away even the most seemingly obvious evidence of their evil than I do, let me tell you. For the detect line, all they need is to call it some convenient near-synonym, like "Detect Light" vs "Detect Dark". After all, what drow wouldn't want to be dark?

lsfreak
2013-07-23, 11:06 PM
Well, real-world evil people (sociopaths) tend not to acknowledge that anything they do is wrong. People have a remarkable ability to come up with justifications. I'm always thinking of how any player who starts a sentence with "Summoning undead isn't evil because..." is just an evil person trying to justify why it's okay to do evil things.
Don't want to get into a debate here, but sociopath =/= evil. A sociopath is someone whose brain is wired such that they don't empathize with others. This may correlate with violating moral expectations more often (mostly because morality is based heavily on empathy) but doesn't automatically render them "evil." And it hardly takes a sociopath to justify their actions otherwise - paranoid schizophrenia, narcissistic and hystrionic personality disorders, simple denial as a coping mechanism.

More on topic, the Wis 8 meaning you can't contribute is nonsense. One out of every six people in the world are assumed to have Wis 8. Next time you're in class or at work, ask yourself if you really, truly think a sixth of the people in the room are incapable of understanding or arguing morality.

TuggyNE
2013-07-24, 12:26 AM
Next time you're in class or at work, ask yourself if you really, truly think a sixth of the people in the room are incapable of understanding or arguing morality.

Now look at a paladin morality thread, and ask yourself the question again. :smalltongue:

OK, OK, seriously, I agree with you. But I'd add the caveat that the various mental stats can fill in for each other to some extent, so someone with high Cha can give at least a semi-plausible illusion of understanding what you're talking about/convince people that they have sufficiently similar morals, someone with high Int can reason things out the long way instead of relying on intuition and pattern-recognition, and so on and so forth.

tomandtish
2013-07-24, 06:00 PM
As some have said, Sheldon from Big Bang Theory seems a good example of hgh INT and low WIS (as well as low CHA. He KNOWS things, but regularly doesn't understand how to apply them in the real (so to speak) world.

A good ethical example for him might be when he was called into the HR office for sexual harassment and also ended up being fairly racially insensitive to the HR rep. He KNOWS he should never sexually harass anyone or be racist (thus he knows the appropriate ethics if you will), but he has no clue how to keep his straightforward (to him) statements from getting himself in trouble (low WIS). (Sorry, I'm at work so no link to any clip).

I say low WIS because while there are plenty of times Sheldon probably wouldn't bother editing himself, there's also plenty of times where it's clear he has no clue what he just said or of the consequences.

Since ethics are not quite the same as morals (yes, there is a difference), you can also have a low WIS character not understand that ethics are more likely to be situational even for an individual while morals are not. For example, applying morals to ethical situations and vice versa.

BayardSPSR
2013-07-25, 10:19 AM
I would like to take this opportunity ...

... gain and not just for toeing but not crossing the line. That gets results!"

Philosophy through dialogue: how Platonic!

That would make an excellent RP thread, actually.

Serpentine
2013-07-25, 11:03 AM
I would like to take this opportunity to offer a somewhat satirical but hopefully illustrative discussion between ... well, we'll see if I make it all 16 characters, but here's the intended cast:

L.G. Cler: Lawful Good individual with high Wis and average Int
L.G. Wiz: Lawful Good individual with high Int and average Wis

...and, actually, everybody here can figure out the others, who follow the same format.

L.G. Wiz: "Ethics? It's a complex issue, with many corner cases, but can usually be reduced to base principles. We need well-defined rules that promote the common good, and this is best achieved by encouraging individual enterprise and responsibility through rewards freely given by the beneficiaries of others' actions. Punishment must be meted out when people take from others - whether life, liberty, or property - dishonestly. Sometimes, the laws may be flawed, and guilty men will get away with something; that is just a sign we need to re-evaluate our laws. But no system is perfect."

N.G. Wiz: "My esteemed colleague is quite right, but he fails to see that when the law screws up, sometimes we need to do more than merely re-evaluate it. Sometimes, the greater good does require the rules to be bent, if not outright broken. These are, after all, the corner cases. We can try to re-evaluate and fix the laws so they aren't broken again, but the right thing must happen even if it abrogates order a little bit. To do otherwise is to encourage the specific kind of malefaction that hunts down these corner cases and undermines the good of all for its own selfish benefit."

L.N. Cler: "No! You can't break the law just because it's convenient! Law separates us from savagery. A little individual tragedy and a little individual vice is no excuse to upturn the established order. That sort of corruption leads to madness, because the "common good" is subjective! You can't say one thing is good just because it benefits the many, and throw out the rules because of it. That way lies mob rule."

L.G. Cler: "I'm afraid my friend has a point, though he puts too much allowance for corruption within the system. L.G. Wiz is actually making the better point, because it is tragic when the innocent are wronged and the guilty allowed to prosper by loophole in the law. It's important for us, as the keepers of the law and the stewards of the good of all, to attempt to help the innocent when that happens, and to keep a closer eye on the malefactors who abused the letter of the law so that we can help the law-abiding know who to trust."

L.N. Wiz: "Don't be silly. These 'malefactors' of whom you speak, in controlled numbers, do us a service! They find for us those 'loopholes' so that we may close them. At the same time, it is the individual responsibility of each citizen to be diligent and aware; make use of a well-constructed system, and most abuses will fail as the intelligent agent will know better than to fall for the scheme, legal or not. Still, promoting the public trust is essential to maintaining a common order. As L.N. Cler said, we must adhere to our laws, because those are what we've agreed to. We may not change them on a whim, but all must trust that the law is applied impartially, which is why our N.G. associates are so woefully mistaken."

N.G. Cler: "Have you no heart? How can you be so cold towards the victims of such abuses of the law? No, I agree, we can't rely on vigilante justice to take revenge, but we must help the innocent. Only then will people feel safe enough to work together, and besides, it's only right! And of course we have to change the law when it is abused. Heck, it is not without merit to have some leeway given to our judges so that they can declare somebody in defiance of the spirit of the law so that they need not rule in their favor. But we do need to be careful, there, because that could allow evil men to seek judicial power to abuse such a clause."

L.G. Wiz: "Such attraction to so abusable a power is why we must adhere to the law's letter at all times, I am afraid."

L.N. Cler: "Indeed. The clever discovery of loopholes is how we achieve things that need to be done without abusing the public trust and descending into anarchy."

L.E. Wiz: "Not to mention, it's profitable. You speak of law as if it exists to coddle the weak. Not so. It exists so we all can work together peaceably, knowing that the rules are applied as stated. It keeps us from wasting resources on violence, and ensures that the most fit to use them wind up with said resources. It takes great intelligence to understand how all these complex societal agreements interact. And with that intellect comes the power of mind to exploit the resources and direct the lesser minds and bodies most effectively."

L.E. Cler: "Absolutely. You don't want anarchy, and you don't want the weak dictating to the strong. Both ways lead to barbarism. Do what you say you will, exploit what is yours, and take what you can get from the fools who do not deserve it. Laws exist to support the best of the best, and to protect from the mobs of the wasteful and weak. If you cannot operate within them, you don't deserve what you have."

C.G. Cler: "And this is the kind of person your blind adherence to law empowers! Tyrants who will bend and twist words until you're their slaves, and mock you for not thanking them for it! 'The common good' is best served when men are free. Yes, agreements between willing men and women must be honored, but it's the spirit in which the agreement was made that's most important. Only when one is maliciously backing out should it be enforced by force of 'law,' and even then, it's best dealt with personally. When people agree in good faith, they can adjust the agreement as they go along, or back out with no harm done."

N.G. Wiz: "Your ideal is lovely, my good man, but a little naive. Even the best of intentions can lead to two mutually exclusive views of an agreement. Sometimes, it must be enforced because we cannot be certain of the hearts and minds of those involved, and a fair way for harm to be minimized must be arbitrated."

C.G. Wiz: "Oh, arbitration is all well and good, but it ultimately must come down to the intentions of the participants. When one is seeking to exploit a loophole or abuse the letter of an agreement, the agreement is itself meaningless. Obviously, if two good-hearted men work together in good faith, the arbiter's job is simply to help them remember their intentions and respect for each other. If one or both men seek advantage through malicious indifference, they should not have reasonable expectation of any more 'fair' treatment. Yes, agreements were made, but unconscionable agreements should never be enforced, lest they allow evil to triumph.

"Frankly, if such evil does come out ahead under the so-called 'law' imposed by imperfect (demi-)human(oid)s, it is not unreasonable for matters to be taken outside the law. Of course, one must be very careful with such actions, lest it be used, itself, to justify evil, but there are times it's quite clear what needs to be done, and shrinking from that is wrong."

C.N. Cler: "Pshaw. Care? Good sirs - and you each know who I mean - people are smarter and cleverer than you give them credit for. They know when they're being messed with. This whole "Law" thing is really just imposition and moralistic prattle designed to make bullies feel good about themselves while they force others to comply.

"If you've been wronged, you know it. Go take care of it yourself. 'Oh, anarchy!' you cry? Only when you promote that 'law' business."

C.E. Cler: "Hah! Exactly! The only 'law' is that of the jungle! Think about it: what is 'law's' power other than that of a bunch of people agreeing to be somebody else's patsy? The only real power is what you can do yourself!"

L.E. Cler: "Fools. Law is the application of the force of the many. It is empowering precisely because the smartest and most dedicated rise to the top, enforcing a natural order far more refined than the brutal chaos you envision."

C.N. Wiz: "Now, now. Again, it is not anarchy that my colleague and I propose. That is the province of our Chaotic Evil friends, who mistake freedom to swing their fists as the right to impact others' faces. No, the objective analysis of things indicates that the only one who can know what is intended is the one who is taking the action. While both C.G. and C.E. grasp the import of this, they both make the slight mistake of thinking that it is their place to arbitrate with others over it.

"Good believes it's only right and fair, while Evil leans more towards ensuring that they get what they want. Both are wrong; the sole responsibility one has is to oneself, and thus also to respect that in others. Only when others wrong you do you take it upon yourself to stop them. But you always take it upon yourself to stop them! Unless you agree, I suppose. And it doesn't hurt to be interested in your friends' situations, because despite what our Lawful gentlemen might say, we do not deny the obvious advantage of strength in numbers. Just the right to demand that all fall in line to give it!"

C.E. Wiz: "Oh, you do like to hear yourself talk. Trying to justify elements of the feel-good 'rules' while claiming to be against rules other than your own. Look. You're a smart guy. Most of you, really, have some understanding of these matters. But you're all getting lost in the details. At the end of the day, there is only one thing that matters: Can I do it, and can you stop me?

"Getting others to work with you makes it more likely you can do it. Whether you do this by beating them up, bribing them, threatening them, or simply deceiving them is irrelevant. And if you can do it on your own, you don't even need to go that far. Just destroy those who get in your way before the 'law' types can band the useful idiots together. And if you're too weak, then solicit bribes by selling yourself to the highest bidder. Get what you can, because only what you can protect is worth anything. Everything else will belong to the stronger, soon enough."

N.E. Wiz: "The flaw in your reasoning is that you blind yourself to the wisdom offered by our Lawful compatriots. Strength in numbers is real, and you get more numbers when those working for you know they are safe in your promises. Your system leads to defection and disloyalty, as the efforts to cling to what they have begins to exceed their devotion to your cause.

"The strong must rule the weak. Rule requires a certain adherence to, well, rules. Not the rigid interpretations of L.E. Wiz and Cler, and certainly not the nonsense about 'greater good' being served by them prattled by the Good contingent. But yes, rule that the minions at least know will be enforced and respected. When you promise them something, they serve best if they know they'll get it even if they exhaust themselves in your service and can no longer personally enforce it."

N.E. Cler: "Of course. But that doesn't mean rewarding failure or disloyalty just because they twist some letter of the rules into place! They know when they've earned it for real, and so does the wise leader. Punishment and reward for results, not just for personal immediate gain and not just for toeing but not crossing the line. That gets results!"Woooow. *slow clap* :smallsmile:

I thought of this as well, but wizards can't yell tactics as an immediate action in character.But... speaking is a free action? :smallconfused: "Dwarf, go for the knees. Cleric, try to blind it!" Seems pretty standard to me...

Think everyone else has pretty much got the gist of it. There is one aspect that I think hasn't been touched on too much: the type of philosophy these different types of characters might have. I might suggest, for example, that high Wis characters might tend to look as ethics in terms of right/wrong, whereas high Int characters may look at it more as useful/detrimental. Or a high Wis character might tend to internalise it - "what sort of a world would I want to live in/how would I want to be treated?" - whereas a high Int character might be more likely to approach it analytically - "what have past great minds thought about it? What has been tried before, and did it work?"
Furthermore, regarding the "Can CE characters be ethical?" question: first of all, the "moral villain" is pretty classic - the bad guy who is doing terrible things for extremely well-thought out, "for the greater good" reasons. Secondly, I've never studied ethics but even I know of several philosophies that could easily be twisted or appropriated to very Evil purposes - Ayn Rand and Nihilism come most readily to mind, but I have no doubt there's plenty more. Hell, even Humanism of all things has been used to justify some pretty awful stuff.

For the important bit, though: yeah, having ethical opinions has nothing to do with any stat. Stats might influence their approach to philosophy or even their conclusions, and how well they can articulate and argue in their favour, but any being that can think can be moral - and just because you can think better doesn't, in this case, mean you'll be more right.

Alejandro
2013-07-25, 11:34 AM
Philosophy and viewpoint is a good point to mention. A 'lawful good' person in, say, a North American country might operate very differently from a 'lawful good' person in a European country, or a SE Asian one.

kyoryu
2013-07-25, 12:17 PM
High Int: "The Elitharian system of ethics says that the highest good of all is freedom. As such, we are in a position to free someone that has been imprisoned. We do not know why he has been imprisoned, and his cell appears to be abandoned - none of his jailers are here to tell us of his crimes. Given this, and the very clear statements made by the Washanda ethical system regarding the duties of people when information is unknown, it is quite clear that our only ethical option is to release the prisoner."

High Wis: "That's nice. But if we release this ravenous demon, it's going to eat everybody in the town. That's not going to happen."

xkaliburr
2013-07-25, 02:13 PM
High Int: "The Elitharian system of ethics says that the highest good of all is freedom. As such, we are in a position to free someone that has been imprisoned. We do not know why he has been imprisoned, and his cell appears to be abandoned - none of his jailers are here to tell us of his crimes. Given this, and the very clear statements made by the Washanda ethical system regarding the duties of people when information is unknown, it is quite clear that our only ethical option is to release the prisoner."

High Wis: "That's nice. But if we release this ravenous demon, it's going to eat everybody in the town. That's not going to happen."

This.

I would say the difference between High Wisdom and High Intelligence in an ethical debate would be the difference between Spock and McCoy in Star Trek. Essentially, the Wisdom will give you empathy, while Intelligence would be more pure logic.

An example to this would be a war will break out unless this artifact is returned to it's rightful owner, so the party is dispatched. They find the item, which is being used by a band of freedom fighters to protect a village. A logical ethical person would essentially believe in the greater good, let this village burn while we keep thousands from being slaughtered in a war, while a person with high Wisdom may argue that removing the item is tantamount to slitting the villager's throats yourself, and that another solution needs to be reached.

But in the end, it is your character, not his/hers

kyoryu
2013-07-25, 05:35 PM
I always view high Int, low Wis characters as being the type to have amazing justifications for *really bad* ideas.

tomandtish
2013-07-25, 06:45 PM
I always view high Int, low Wis characters as being the type to have amazing justifications for *really bad* ideas.

Exactly. To quote Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park:

"Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should"

The perfect example of high INT low WIS.

lsfreak
2013-07-26, 12:49 AM
In terms of moral philosophy, High Int Low Wis seems like it would be drawn to utilitarianism. Not that you can't have high Wis and be utilitarian (in fact I'd argue the opposite, they'd likely be much better at recognizing the complexities of defining "maximizing utility" and less likely to do accidental harm as a result), but it seems like the analytic part of it would be especially appealing. Existentialism (especially Sartrean, from what I remember) and nihilism as well. (All I can say about Rand is that it's "interesting," because it's the only moral system I know of where you logically try to hide all evidence of its belief and instead evangelize as much as possible to keep others from adopting it.)

Drachasor
2013-07-26, 01:16 AM
I completely disagree that Sheldon Cooper is an example of a High Int, Low Wisdom character.

One, the main low mental stat he has is Charisma. He seems perfectly capable of noticing things, has a lot of willpower, and in general his wisdom doesn't seem bad.

More significantly though, Sheldon is pretty much a great example of someone with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome. He's not capable of picking up social cues or conventions the normal. His high intelligence has dealt with this by make up his own list of rules people should behave by and occasionally (rarely) listening when other people tell him of social customs. He has trouble with body language, etc, etc.

In-game something like Asperger's would be represented as a penalty to certain types of social checks (sometimes wisdom-based, sometimes charisma-based).


Exactly. To quote Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park:

"Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should"

The perfect example of high INT low WIS.

I wouldn't say that so much. It's more like not realizing they should have deep trenches and totally relying on electric fences. That's a lack of common sense and not noticing the obvious.

Then again, the game makes this VERY hard to distinguish. Because "common sense", "intuition", and "reasoning" are not really distinct. Give someone a plan for containing the dinosaurs, and if they are smart and skilled, they should notice that something totally reliant on power won't work. There are logical problems with it that a basic security analysis would reveal.

Hmm, one might almost consider "common sense" to be "untrained knowledge checks" in a way. As usually it is applied as something anyone could notice. It's doubly odd in that being practical IS a trainable skill.


Now, let us consider the Wisdom text again:

Wisdom describes a characterís willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition. While Intelligence represents oneís ability to analyze information, Wisdom represents being in tune with and aware of oneís surroundings. Wisdom is the most important ability for clerics and druids, and it is also important for paladins and rangers. If you want your character to have acute senses, put a high score in Wisdom. Every creature has a Wisdom score.

I think the bolded section is most relevant to actually using Wisdom in a practical way here. Someone with a high intelligence would be REALLY good at applying moral principles to problems. Give them the variables and they'll give you a sound answer the vast majority of the time. That's the stat for analyzing things.

On the other hand, put these people in an actual situation, and the intelligence guy will STILL analyze the variables he's aware of correctly. The wisdom guy will notice the missed variable that changes the whole dynamic into a problem with another solution. Without intelligence to back it up though, the extra variables he notices might not actually help him much.

I think that's the main difference. The intelligence guy is generally the one you want in a debate. He can analyze and reason with the best of them. You want to back it up with wisdom in an actual situation so that you can make sure you comprehend what is going on.

Felhammer
2013-07-26, 02:25 AM
Often times when ethics gets brought up in character, I have my wizard contribute intellectually to the discussion. This was partially a result of me having studied ethics academically, so I could contribute more than others at the table. Most everyone was fine with this. DM and players.

Except one player, who said that ethics is WIS, and since my WIS was 8, my wizard can't discuss ethics. I definitely wasn't allowed to show up our party cleric, who had a WIS of 16.

:(

What do you think? I could just ignore the player, but since we're all reasonable people, I think I should put more thought into this.

Playing to your character's ability scores is often harder the more you drive down into the system's eccentricities and arbitrary divisions.

To quell any arguments, I would change your MO to be more like Data from Star Trek. He looks at a situation and analyzes it through the lens of different cultures. "On Vulcan, they do X, while on Andoria they do Y, while in China they do Z." Just list them but do not weigh in on which code is the superior model. You do not really care one way or the other, so let your companions use the information you have provided as a tool to come to a decision they feel is best.

Let's say a Goblin has surrendered to the PC's and everyone is debating what to do with him. Your character would look at the situation and spout off the ethics of many different cultures.

"Since this group does not follow any singular code of ethics and instead lives in a fantasy world where each incident is tried on its own merits, I offer you the following advice: In Orc culture, the Goblin would be killed for his cowardice. In Drow culture, the Goblin would be flogged twenty times and then sacrificed to their dark goddess. While the Code of Shimmering Knights says we must treat prisoners as if they were kin. "

Drachasor
2013-07-26, 03:27 AM
Playing to your character's ability scores is often harder the more you drive down into the system's eccentricities and arbitrary divisions.

To quell any arguments, I would change your MO to be more like Data from Star Trek. He looks at a situation and analyzes it through the lens of different cultures. "On Vulcan, they do X, while on Andoria they do Y, while in China they do Z." Just list them but do not weigh in on which code is the superior model. You do not really care one way or the other, so let your companions use the information you have provided as a tool to come to a decision they feel is best.

Let's say a Goblin has surrendered to the PC's and everyone is debating what to do with him. Your character would look at the situation and spout off the ethics of many different cultures.

"Since this group does not follow any singular code of ethics and instead lives in a fantasy world where each incident is tried on its own merits, I offer you the following advice: In Orc culture, the Goblin would be killed for his cowardice. In Drow culture, the Goblin would be flogged twenty times and then sacrificed to their dark goddess. While the Code of Shimmering Knights says we must treat prisoners as if they were kin. "

Eh, but Data would be able to say that one was superior to another. He does have a system of ethics. He'd be able to analyze how each culture did things and point out the problems in their methods. Granted, Data tends to be quite polite, so he might not always point these details out.

It seems like you are saying that without wisdom you have no opinion of your own, but that's definitely not how it works.

Felhammer
2013-07-26, 04:51 AM
Eh, but Data would be able to say that one was superior to another. He does have a system of ethics. He'd be able to analyze how each culture did things and point out the problems in their methods. Granted, Data tends to be quite polite, so he might not always point these details out.

It seems like you are saying that without wisdom you have no opinion of your own, but that's definitely not how it works.

My method was simply a compromise more than anything else. There's no right or wrong answer here because the rules are extraordinarily vague. If the DM consents then in his world it's a-ok. That should be all the troubled player needs. My compromise was intended to simply avoid an argument while giving the OP his desire while paying lip service to the troubled player. :smallsmile:

Drachasor
2013-07-26, 05:01 AM
My method was simply a compromise more than anything else. There's no right or wrong answer here because the rules are extraordinarily vague. If the DM consents then in his world it's a-ok. That should be all the troubled player needs. My compromise was intended to simply avoid an argument while giving the OP his desire while paying lip service to the troubled player. :smallsmile:

The troubled player is telling someone else how to roleplay and they are also very, very wrong. I think it would be more important to get them not to do stuff like this rather than compromise with their silly and incorrect beliefs.

Unless the troubled player is disrupting the game every time this comes up, can't be reasoned with, and for some reason must remain in the group, then I think educating him is better. That or ignoring him as the OP initial considered.

Felhammer
2013-07-26, 05:18 AM
The troubled player is telling someone else how to roleplay and they are also very, very wrong. I think it would be more important to get them not to do stuff like this rather than compromise with their silly and incorrect beliefs.

Unless the troubled player is disrupting the game every time this comes up, can't be reasoned with, and for some reason must remain in the group, then I think educating him is better. That or ignoring him as the OP initial considered.

It's not wrong, just misguided. Think of it this way - Let's say you are playing a character with an 8 INT. You then have your character eloquently opine about the subtle yet firm nature of angel feather pillows. Everyone around you would scoff because an 8 INT does not equate to eloquently opining about anything.

The Troubled Player believes the in depth discussion of Ethics by a character with 8 WIS to be an equivalent situation of a character eloquently opining about angle feather pillows.

Everyone here can see the difference but he does not. He must be taught that ability scores only go so far. They are general guidelines, doubly so for the fiddly esoteric bits that sit on the fence between the arbitrary lines the designers have imposed on the playing audience.

SethoMarkus
2013-07-26, 07:49 AM
It's not wrong, just misguided. Think of it this way - Let's say you are playing a character with an 8 INT. You then have your character eloquently opine about the subtle yet firm nature of angel feather pillows. Everyone around you would scoff because an 8 INT does not equate to eloquently opining about anything.


If it was a character with 3-5 INT I could understand that viewpoint, but with an 8 INT this is like saying that no one can have a special interest. Perhaps the character has a special affinity for angel feather pillows, so he/she knows quite a good deal about them, but he/she is completely ignorant towards types of pastries or locally relevant history. And what of savant characters? Characters who really excel in one area? This would be represented by having high skill points in a subject, probably, but what about subjects that don't impact the game mechanics; isn't that the realm of fluff background?

I think we just need to remember that a score of 8 in a stat isn't low. It is average. 8-9 INT would be the kid in school that gets all D's and C's; 10-11 INT would be the kid that got a mix of C's, B's, and A's; 12 INT and higher would probably be mostly straight A's, maybe a few B's. Anything over 15 INT probably failed out of primary school because they just think too differently for the schools to be a good match; think of Sir Isaac Newton or Stephen Hawking, neither of which had stellar academic performance at lower grades, but began to excel in more "difficult" courses later in their academic careers.

If this were a discussion about a truly high INT low WIS character, such as 16+ INT and under 6 WIS, then I can see the character being "empathy-blind" in their ethical views. However, an 8 WIS is probably the score that would be given to any person that was "book smart but lacked common sense". Don't think Sheldon, think Howard or Raj. 8 in a stat is slightly below average, that is all. Just like 12 in a stat is slightly above average- you're not the best in the village or city, just the top of your class; the strongest lumberjack in a company, the best archer in the town guard, the diplomatic mayor in a small town. You might win competitions in your specialty in your home town, but won't regularly win at regional competitions. Same thing with an 8; it doesn't mean that you're always last place in small-town competitions, you just don't regularly place in the top 3 and probably never came in first.

Sorry about the rant, it ended up being longer than I intended. It just gets under my skin when people treat 8-9 in a stat like it's a caveman clinking two stones together in the mud.

NichG
2013-07-26, 11:36 AM
It's not wrong, just misguided. Think of it this way - Let's say you are playing a character with an 8 INT. You then have your character eloquently opine about the subtle yet firm nature of angel feather pillows. Everyone around you would scoff because an 8 INT does not equate to eloquently opining about anything.


See, I think this is the danger of interpretting someone else's roleplay. Your example strikes me as something that would be difficult for a low CHA character, not a low INT character. Nothing in particular tells me that being able to say pretty things about angel feather pillows means that a person is or has to be smart, but being able to say pretty things about something falls more naturally under CHA for me.

Someone else might well say its WIS based even, as per the storybook riddle of the king asking wise men what the softest pillow was.

Its best in general to stay away from interpretations of 'X stat means you cannot say/think Y', because when it comes down to it, the only person who really knows if it makes sense for their character is the person playing them, and specific background, details, character concepts, and the like can always trump loose interpretations of the mental statistics.

Aquillion
2013-07-26, 12:07 PM
It's not wrong, just misguided. Think of it this way - Let's say you are playing a character with an 8 INT. You then have your character eloquently opine about the subtle yet firm nature of angel feather pillows. Everyone around you would scoff because an 8 INT does not equate to eloquently opining about anything.Int isn't eloquence; if anything, that's governed by Charisma.

But ultimately, it's more important that people find their characters fun to play than that they abide by one strict interpretation of what their stats (or alignments, etc) mean. If they're completely ignoring the meaning of the stuff on their sheet and not expressing it in any way shape or form, sure, I could see raising an eyebrow at them; but if someone wants to express their 8 Int as having their character be bad at math and having a bit of trouble reading, while saying that their high Charisma or Wisdom still makes them eloquent when delivering flowery speeches or folksy wisdom, that's up to them.

(There are plenty of people in real life who are good at talking but ultimately not very bright -- I mean, we're not talking obviously-impaired-intelligence here, we're talking very-slightly-below-average.)

And if someone had a character with those stats flipped -- high int, low cha -- they could interpret it the other way, and have a character who delivered brilliant, intelligent, flowery speeches filled with clever wordplay. These speeches wouldn't be as convincing as they would coming from someone with high Charisma, but the reason why they're not convincing is up to the player to decide -- they can say their character is bad at reading a crowd and says things that offends them, or just tends to offend people with a supercilious manner in general, or has poor bodily hygiene, or has a weird accent, or is just ugly or whatever.

Likewise, someone with high Int / low Wis can have a very deep, intelligently-thought-out personal philosophy. They would have more trouble applying it directly, and they'll have a low Will save and make a bad Cleric and such as a result, but it's up to them to decide exactly how the effects of their low Wisdom manifest themselves.

Cerlis
2013-07-26, 01:46 PM
well i'm not sure if its Ethics per sei (though i think it is) it reminds me of when my roomy talks about debating ethics. That there is a logic behind it. For instance most people talk about one thing or another and say its bad or good due to Slipper Slope, Strawman, or False Correlation fallacies. And the notion of Ethics as he presented it to me was that you use correct LOGIC when dealing with these issues. Opinions are one thing, but ethics was the notion of "well if you are going to say that This is that, you need to also apply it over here and ask yourself which of these two is more important"

So basically ethics are the opinion, that Ethics (the philosophy) is mostly intellectual. And often in real life the problem arises between people who feel strongly about something (confusing those strong feelings for legitimacy) conflict with people who use logic but dont utilize empathy for those feelings of the other person.

But basically TALKING about ethics is basically just saying "If A+B=C, then C-B=A". Its just math and the notion of making a decision based on that logic (and any emotion involved) is a separate entity.

You could imagine a Vulcan who has spent alot of time on a federation starship. He sees two forms of logic. That retreat could yield later victory and a better cause to the war, and Staying and Fighting to the death will show the enemy their defiance and raise moral among allies. A non federation vulcan might say that the second is irrelevant because its is just an "excuse" for an emotional need to not back down. While the federation Vulcan knows that most of the federation are emotional beings and that a noble sacrifice might be needed. And so he willingly obeys his commander and allows such a sacrifice.

The Vulcan used ethics to determine the ramifications of his actions using intellect, while the emotional part (which the other player is focusing on) is simply a separate thing that though it lead to the current decision is largely irrelevant.

Drachasor
2013-07-26, 03:03 PM
It's not wrong, just misguided. Think of it this way - Let's say you are playing a character with an 8 INT. You then have your character eloquently opine about the subtle yet firm nature of angel feather pillows. Everyone around you would scoff because an 8 INT does not equate to eloquently opining about anything.

The Troubled Player believes the in depth discussion of Ethics by a character with 8 WIS to be an equivalent situation of a character eloquently opining about angle feather pillows.

Everyone here can see the difference but he does not. He must be taught that ability scores only go so far. They are general guidelines, doubly so for the fiddly esoteric bits that sit on the fence between the arbitrary lines the designers have imposed on the playing audience.

Wisdom and an understanding of ethics have very little to do with each other. The main cross-over is with Wisdom improving your ability to NOTICE things, like the emotional states and wants of those around you. That doesn't do a dang thing to make you CARE about those emotional states or wants.

The troubled player isn't just misguided, he's flat-out wrong.


If this were a discussion about a truly high INT low WIS character, such as 16+ INT and under 6 WIS, then I can see the character being "empathy-blind" in their ethical views. However, an 8 WIS is probably the score that would be given to any person that was "book smart but lacked common sense". Don't think Sheldon, think Howard or Raj. 8 in a stat is slightly below average, that is all. Just like 12 in a stat is slightly above average- you're not the best in the village or city, just the top of your class; the strongest lumberjack in a company, the best archer in the town guard, the diplomatic mayor in a small town. You might win competitions in your specialty in your home town, but won't regularly win at regional competitions. Same thing with an 8; it doesn't mean that you're always last place in small-town competitions, you just don't regularly place in the top 3 and probably never came in first.

I think the Big Bang Theory in general is a poor place to go, because all the characters act like major jerks on a semi-regular basis. (Sheldon, imho, at least has a reasonable excuse for his behavior). But hey, I couldn't stand watching the show after a while, so I'm probably a little biased.

But let's consider someone with a wisdom of 4. They'll have a major difficulty noticing how others are feeling (lack of sense motive). They'll have trouble noticing how details about their surroundings, dress, etc, etc relate to that. That DOES NOT mean they can't understand it if someone points these things out. In fact, they are perfectly capable of having an extremely strong reaction to learning that someone is in pain. Their empathy isn't impaired, their ability to read others is -- there's a difference.

Their ethical judgements might be impaired in practice only because they have trouble recognizing the emotions of others. Hence they might misjudge where others stand on certain issues and how they'd feel about certain decisions. Give them good information however, and there's no reason they'd be more impaired than anyone else.


well i'm not sure if its Ethics per sei (though i think it is) it reminds me of when my roomy talks about debating ethics. That there is a logic behind it. For instance most people talk about one thing or another and say its bad or good due to Slipper Slope, Strawman, or False Correlation fallacies. And the notion of Ethics as he presented it to me was that you use correct LOGIC when dealing with these issues. Opinions are one thing, but ethics was the notion of "well if you are going to say that This is that, you need to also apply it over here and ask yourself which of these two is more important"

So basically ethics are the opinion, that Ethics (the philosophy) is mostly intellectual. And often in real life the problem arises between people who feel strongly about something (confusing those strong feelings for legitimacy) conflict with people who use logic but dont utilize empathy for those feelings of the other person.

But basically TALKING about ethics is basically just saying "If A+B=C, then C-B=A". Its just math and the notion of making a decision based on that logic (and any emotion involved) is a separate entity.

There are MANY different ethical systems. What every single one of them that's worth a darn has in common is that they are ALL concerned with the internal states of others. It might be happiness, virtue, autonomy, etc, etc, but they are all concerned with these states.

Proposing Ethics doesn't concern itself with emotion is like proposing Economics doesn't concern itself with money. It's an essential component that cannot be ignored in the theory. Emotions are not some ethereal thing that reason cannot grasp or handle.


Edit: Final Note. Any issue someone might have due to a low ability, let's remember that even a 4 is just a -3. That means you can still hit a 10 or more a decent amount of the time on a Sense Motive. You can also train up weaknesses you have. So in general, as Aquillion said, I would not read TOO much into a stat. Even an awful stat is really just a moderate handicap, not a severe one.

Segev
2013-07-26, 04:48 PM
Taking a step back, you might ask the player what it is about it that bothers him. Is it harming his sense of verisimilitude? Does he feel like you're stepping on his toes? Are other players privately telling him that he needs to stand up to you despite him not really being bothered? Does he think there's some in-game or meta-game advantage you're taking which is unfair and against the spirit or letter of the rules?

Each of these - and any number of other reasons why he's objecting - has a different OOC response. And it may be that OOC is the place to handle it, because understanding the root cause of what is bothering this player will let you address that without having to fight over the apparent surface issue. And if it's just that he feels you're "doing it wrong" and he is offended that you'd be wrong at the gaming table, I think even just pointing out to him that it isn't hurting anything might help him mellow out a bit on it. If he feels you're somehow cheating him by being better than you should be at his expense, then that, too, needs to be addressed more clearly than simply "argue that you can do what you want" or "acquiesce to his demands of how you play your PC."