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View Full Version : Reconciling Goodness and Sneaking



zeek0
2015-01-26, 09:11 PM
I am trying to create a character (OotA D&D Dex Paladin, for context) who strongly believes in doing and preserving good in the world. He believes in enjoyment, protection, laughter, kindness, and beauty.

It is notable that sneaking would be easy for him (dex). Sneaking means hiding yourself from the eyes of others, and concealment.

But is is possible to reconcile his philosophy with sneaking?

goto124
2015-01-26, 09:12 PM
Robin Hood Chaotic Good, works best with a Lawful Evil empire. Might help to be a paladin of freedom.

What is the campaign about, what does the DM rule, what's the setting?

How often will he actually sneak? If you want a Lawful Good, maybe he doesn't like to sneak, preferring more 'honorable' methods. He doesn't have to sneak even if he happens to be good at it.

JNAProductions
2015-01-26, 09:15 PM
If he's practical? "Sneaking around to avoid getting murdered and being a good person are wholly unrelated things. So no, I won't be shouting 'Here I come!' every time I fight an Orcish raiding party."

If he's extremely righteous? "When I fight beings of darkness, I must conceal the light, for it would be tainted by the sight of those unclean."

If he wants to crack a cocky joke about it? "If I didn't hide myself away, I'd make everyone else too jealous to be good people."

Honestly, I don't see any incompatibilities with sneaking and a good moral code. Sneak around when evil is afoot, and be honest, kind, and merry when goodness cavorts around you. You've got a bigger issue combining good morals with stabbing living, thinking beings to death, and yet that never seems to be a huge issue with paladins.

Red Fel
2015-01-26, 09:21 PM
If he's practical? "Sneaking around to avoid getting murdered and being a good person are wholly unrelated things. So no, I won't be shouting 'Here I come!' every time I fight an Orcish raiding party."

This.

Look, being a selfless, noble paragon doesn't mean you have to be an idiot. It doesn't mean walking around with a loudspeaker, broadly proclaiming, "The heroes are here! This is where you aim! I'm wearing shiny armor, it's easy to spot!"

Being kind and compassionate doesn't preclude you from embracing concepts like "Discretion is the better part of valor." There is nothing inherently wrongful about wishing to go unseen from time to time. It's not like you're committing assassinations from the shadows, breaking into homes, or watching people from a hole in the ceiling while they chew their food. You're just choosing not to be noticed every now and again. Using your stealth to locate a ghastly villain or elude his wicked patrols.

And frankly, things that help you survive long enough to do more good are good things, right? Right?

Tengu_temp
2015-01-26, 09:24 PM
There is nothing evil about sneaking. Some lawful types might think it's dishonorable, but honor is not the same as good, and it's just some lawful types - it's perfectly viable to make a sneaky lawful character, too. Just because you use stealth doesn't mean you're a thief.


or watching people from a hole in the ceiling while they chew their food.

Not evil, but definitely creepy.

goto124
2015-01-26, 09:36 PM
and hope your DM agrees

zeek0
2015-01-26, 09:43 PM
[I]There is nothing evil about sneaking.

I know that there is nothing evil about sneaking. My character is not concerned with honor. Instead, I am concerned that the ideal of facing evil and creating good is contradictory to the act of concealing oneself.

If hiding one's motives from others (and thereby lying) contradictory to the ideals of beauty and light?

JNAProductions
2015-01-26, 09:47 PM
You aren't hiding your motives-you're hiding your body.

And if you do consider it to be hiding motives, consider your current plan of action when sneaking-murder, or possibly theft (of goods or information), or many other things, none of which are inherently good and are oftentimes less than good. As a good good guy, it'd be good to hide those un-good actions.

Really, in my opinion you're overthinking this. Combat effectiveness and morals aren't an issue unless you're being a huge jerk in combat (say, concealing a swarm of live fire ants inside your blade to inject into open wounds) or your moral code finds itself in conflict with combat itself.

So long as you can fight, you can sneak.

zeek0
2015-01-26, 10:18 PM
I suppose that what I am imagining is the ideal world that a hero wishes to create.

Many of my heroes, including both The Operative from Serenity and V from V for Vendetta know that because of their methods they cannot live in the ideal world they want to create.


The Operative: It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die... so you can live in your better world?
The Operative: I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.
Serenity


Anarchy wears two faces, both creator and destroyer. Thus destroyers topple empires; make a canvas of clean rubble where creators can then build a better world. Rubble, once achieved, makes further ruins' means irrelevant. Away with our explosives then! Away with our destroyers! They have no place within our better world. But let us raise a toast to all our bombers, all our bastards, most unlovely and most unforgivable, let's drink to their health... then meet with them no more.
-V, V for Vendetta

So it seems that some characters feel that their methods displace them from the ideal world they wish to create. That the methods they use to create that world cause them to become individuals that cannot live in that world.

So I suppose this is my question: is sneaking one of these methods?

JDL
2015-01-26, 10:20 PM
Start with your Paladin's individual code of conduct. Outline the restrictions in writing. For example:

1. Serve the Land.
This means act in the best interests of the common citizens of the Land above all else.

2. Follow the Law.
This means to follow the written documents that define the core structure of the nation unless they conflict with the best interests of the common citizens.

3. Obey the Ruler.
This means you must follow the order of any authorized official unless they conflict with the written laws of the nation or work against the best interests of the common citizens.

Example 1:
Let's say you're planning to drive out a band of orcs in the local province. The sheriff has posted a reward for their extermination. They've been raiding the local farmsteads and killing and looting travellers on the road. You plan to sneak into their camp in the night, set fire to their tents, kill their leader in the confusion and escape in the chaos that follows. Since you're following the code of conduct you've defined in writing (both 1 and 3 are valid, and nothing in the local laws prevents you using these tactics on orcs) you can justify your actions as a Lawful Good character.

Example 2:
A local lord orders you to drive out a group of travelling gypsies on suspicion they're smugglers. You sneak into their camp, search their wagons and find they're organizing a rebellion against the tyrannical rule of the local lord. You refuse to obey the lord, instead banding with the local people to evict the despot ruling over their kingdom, sneaking inside his fort and opening the gates for the assembled mob. In this scenario you're violating number 3 (the order of the local lord), but only because following it would break number 1 (the will of the people) and 2 (murder of innocents). Ignoring the problem entirely and moving on would also be contrary to the best interests of the common people, thus you would be obliged to help the people against the lord.

Alignment and actions with grey morality are a hairy problem in D&D, but it is definitely helpful to have a written code of conduct to outline how your Paladin would respond to any situation. Write one up and clear it with your DM to check it's reasonable, so you have a way to justify your actions if anything comes up later.

JNAProductions
2015-01-26, 10:22 PM
The Operative and V were talking about their murders. They couldn't be part of a better world because they had an ocean of blood in their hands. It'd be the same if they walked right up to someone, said they were going to stab them to death, and then did-the fact that the killing happened while the target was unaware is unimportant.

veti
2015-01-26, 10:25 PM
This is your roleplaying decision. We can't answer it for you.

What do the rules say on the subject? Nothing. There is no contradiction between sneaking and paladinhood (if you don't count the fact that paladins get no kind of stealth skills).

The only things you need to worry about are: what does your paladin code say? (What, haven't you written it yet? Get on with it.) And what will those others, in-game, whose opinions matter to you think about it?

Example: if the paladin code says "you will be open and honest in all your dealings", then it's possible some members of your order might consider that incompatible with sneaking. If it says "you will always confront evil, never avoid it", then that would definitely be a problem. But the code doesn't have to say either of those things. It's up to you (and, to a lesser extent, your DM).

zeek0
2015-01-26, 10:33 PM
Thanks for all of your comments. I suppose that in the end I was really trying to determine whether sneaking would be part of my good paladin, not whether sneaking was compatible with goodness in general. I appreciate your help in exploring this with me.

Mark Hall
2015-01-27, 11:11 AM
I am trying to create a character (OotA D&D Dex Paladin, for context) who strongly believes in doing and preserving good in the world. He believes in enjoyment, protection, laughter, kindness, and beauty.

Consider that protection can be done by concealment; you can't destroy what you can't find. It is a means to an end, and while he'd seldom say that the ends justify the means, simply using concealment can be a justifiable means to that end; a path of least resistance, that reduces the danger to others, both on your side and on the others.

Jay R
2015-01-27, 12:45 PM
Ask the DM. Your character doesn't have to fit our ideas of alignment, but the DM's.

Honest Tiefling
2015-01-27, 01:06 PM
Ask yourself, is an ambush an evil act? Is it dishonorable? Because its a good deal of warfare for many eras and locations. Some might even just say that ambushing isn't dishonorable, just good tactics. And well, you should probably also ask the DM on this one.

Ravens_cry
2015-01-27, 05:29 PM
It would depend on how and when you are ambushing. If the reason you were able to get the drop on them was because of a promise of safe conduct for whatever reason, because of parlay or an agreement to exchange prisoners or to let the injured get to safety, yes, it's damn dishonourable and downright evil as well.
If, on the other hand, you were able to catch them in a situation that that was good for you but bad for them, say, an army travelling through a narrow pass surrounded by high cliffs, go for it, you're only using the situation to your advantage.

Bob of Mage
2015-01-27, 07:00 PM
This reminds me of the Knight class from the Player's Handbook 2 (3.5 ed). That whole class seems aimed to be more lawful then Paladins. Kinghts can't even get the flanking bonus or hit anyone whose flat-footed!

On topic there's nothing wrong with sneaking. The only thing wrong is if the PC follows some code that forbids it. In that case it's merely a Lawful issue. Lawful =/= Good

kyoryu
2015-01-27, 08:57 PM
Sneaking isn't good, or evil, or lawful, or chaotic. Much like fighting, it's a tool used to accomplish something.

Sneaking because that's part of the plan and you're following orders from your superior? Lawful.

Sneaking to get out of duty? Chaotic.

Sneaking to steal money, or to assassinate someone? Evil.

Sneaking past enemies to bring food to someone that's hungry? Good.

redwizard007
2015-01-27, 09:05 PM
Ever watch Sleeping Beauty? Prince Philip, who is basically the perfect paladin (except for the whole sleep creep thing,) attempts to sneak out of Maalefecent's dungeons?

Some versions of Robinhood even support this kind of pally. Since PJ is a usurper, resisting him as a tax robbing bandit, and providing for the poor (as King Richard would have wanted) is a paladin's duty.
- I realize the reality of the situation was quite different from that. I'm just talking about the over romanticized portrayals.

Sneaking is almost the only way to rescue a hostage without them being harmed. I'd say that even makes a case for adding it as a pally class skill.

Jay R
2015-01-28, 12:00 AM
This reminds me of the Knight class from the Player's Handbook 2 (3.5 ed). That whole class seems aimed to be more lawful then Paladins. Kinghts can't even get the flanking bonus or hit anyone whose flat-footed!

On topic there's nothing wrong with sneaking. The only thing wrong is if the PC follows some code that forbids it. In that case it's merely a Lawful issue. Lawful =/= Good

I would have no problem with a Knight who sneaks past three ambushes, five guards, and a couple of sentries to reach the evil baron. I then expect him to stand up in front of him and call out, "En Garde!", letting the baron draw his sword.

zeek0
2015-01-28, 12:16 AM
To give everyone some context for my character's concerns:

My character believes in beauty. He believes in truth. He believes in pleasure, wonder, and compassion.

I want my hero to stand up to evil. To act against it directly. To be a beacon of intention. There is something about sneaking that is counter to that.

I believe that my character will still sneak when necessary. But he will not specialize in it, if only as a symbolic gesture of his intention toward the world.

BWR
2015-01-28, 02:51 AM
I don't see a problem with good people employing stealth. Heck, I even allow paladins to do so.
In my Mystara campaign I have two paladins (one of whom is a sort of catoflk samurai) and both use stealth. They use it for scouting in dangerous areas or getting into places to help those in need or to set up favorable positions in combat. What the paladins do not do is use stealth for nefarious purposes. They don't sneak and steal, they don't backstab, they don't do it for mere convenience to avoid paying taxes or whatnot.
If they use stealth set up combat they get into position, ready their weapons, then announce their presence and demand the enemy surrender. If the enemy doesn't comply, then they attack. They never fire the first shot against an unaware enemy, they never attack helpless opponents regardless of how evil they are, and they never act sneakily for greed or personal gain.

Like killing things, stealth is a tool and how your employ it for what purpose determines the morality of the act. Some people might have a personal aversion to stealth, considering it dishonorable or dishonest, and that is fine, I just don't see that it is univesally so.

goto124
2015-01-28, 03:12 AM
Can paladins use stealth to give surprise hugs? :P

SiuiS
2015-01-28, 04:00 AM
Absolutely nothing in his philosophy is against sneaking. :smallconfused:

Storm_Of_Snow
2015-01-28, 04:34 AM
Don't think of him sneaking around like a thief or an assassin.

Think of him sneaking around like a military scout or an undercover police officer. Or Batman. :smallwink:

The_Snark
2015-01-29, 05:42 AM
To give everyone some context for my character's concerns:

My character believes in beauty. He believes in truth. He believes in pleasure, wonder, and compassion.

I want my hero to stand up to evil. To act against it directly. To be a beacon of intention. There is something about sneaking that is counter to that.

I believe that my character will still sneak when necessary. But he will not specialize in it, if only as a symbolic gesture of his intention toward the world.

I think that makes some sense. If the character feels that standing up to evil is the best thing to do (barring unusual circumstance), then sneaking is not an ideal tool. However, it doesn't hurt anyone, and sometimes there are unusual circumstances; better to avoid a confrontation you aren't prepared for. It's a pretty strict sort of personal code, but not totally impractical.

(Slight tangent - it seems to me that lying and verbal deception might be more problematic for this character, since that involves actively contributing to a society in which you can't trust what people say. Essentially, it fails the "what if everyone acted as I do" test.)

Arbane
2015-01-29, 06:02 AM
A simple rule I find helps in situations like this: "You cannot save the world if you are dead."

Kalmageddon
2015-01-29, 06:16 AM
I don't get how this might be a problem.
How is sneaking supposed to be against a Lawful Good alignment? This is one of those times where people really think that all Paladins are made from the same mold and are all loud knights in shining armor. A paladin is just a paragon of good and order, some choose to fight evil clad in heavy armor, others might employ more subtle tactics, why would it be relevant?

Beside, is not as if there isn't an example of a Lawful Good character that already does the whole "fight from the shadows" thing really well... (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Franchise/Batman)

Jay R
2015-01-29, 09:11 AM
Sneaking is merely hiding your movements.

If you are hiding your movements because they are illegal or immoral, then your sneaking is wrong. If you are hiding your movements so that the current evil enemy cannot stop you from saving people, then your sneaking is good and lawful.

It's like any other action. Is attacking somebody good or bad? Depends on who you're attacking, and why.

Is picking a pocket good or bad? Depends on whether you're taking a poor person's bread money or an evil person's detonator.

Is shoving an old lady good or bad? Depends on whether or not she's about to be run over by a bus.

redwizard007
2015-01-29, 09:14 AM
Twice now Batman has been invoked...

End of discussion.

Svata
2015-01-29, 09:29 AM
I don't get how this might be a problem.
How is sneaking supposed to be against a Lawful Good alignment? This is one of those times where people really think that all Paladins are made from the same mold and are all loud knights in shining armor. A paladin is just a paragon of good and order, some choose to fight evil clad in heavy armor, others might employ more subtle tactics, why would it be relevant?

Beside, is not as if there isn't an example of a Lawful Good character that already does the whole "fight from the shadows" thing really well... (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Franchise/Batman)

Do not link Tvtropes without warning. I've been stuck since you posted that.

Beta Centauri
2015-01-29, 02:06 PM
As a general rule, avoid making things alignment issues unless you absolutely have to. Focus on the really cut-and-dried stuff, and ignore the grey areas. At the same time, don't play the game of trying to skirt the cut-and-dried stuff, or using loopholes. If the GM's not out to get you, it should be easy not to have an alignment crisis.

illyahr
2015-01-29, 02:38 PM
To give everyone some context for my character's concerns:

My character believes in beauty. He believes in truth. He believes in pleasure, wonder, and compassion.

I want my hero to stand up to evil. To act against it directly. To be a beacon of intention. There is something about sneaking that is counter to that.

I believe that my character will still sneak when necessary. But he will not specialize in it, if only as a symbolic gesture of his intention toward the world.

If you want to see a good example of a sneaky paladin, look up the shadowbane inquisitor. That being said, it's your character. If you believe that sneaking doesn't suit him, it doesn't. No matter how we try to justify sneaking around, it is ultimately up to you. You sound like you already don't believe he should be sneaking so trying to convince yourself it's a good idea is a bad idea.

ElenionAncalima
2015-01-29, 03:36 PM
Call it scouting... :smallwink:

Seriously, though, it depends on the context and you characters motives. I can imagine plenty of instances where it would be easy justified in the name of protecting your companions or avoiding unnecessary bloodshed.

Ravens_cry
2015-01-29, 03:48 PM
Heck, one could even very easily argue sneaking past guards (who are just doing their job) to get at the tyrannical dictator whose ending would better the world is better than going in guns/spells blazing and killing everyone.

Ceiling_Squid
2015-01-29, 04:10 PM
I would have no problem with a Knight who sneaks past three ambushes, five guards, and a couple of sentries to reach the evil baron. I then expect him to stand up in front of him and call out, "En Garde!", letting the baron draw his sword.

Exactly this. As long as you confront the villain when you arrive, that might make you feel more knightly. It's also a dashing, even heroic arrival when they least expect you. Sort of an "in the nick of time" hero.

With a Batman-style Paladin, evil men don't know where he's going to strike from, but when he does arrive, he knows how to make an entrance, and can put fear into the heart of villains. That's one intimidating defender of good, and punisher of the wicked.

A sneaky Paladin hits evil where it hurts, and doesn't have to cut through an army out in the open just to get to the villain, which would be wasted effort. It's a good way to subvert "good is dumb".

Edit: Also, if you want to add more stipulations to appear more honorable, there are plenty of options. If you need to stealthily attack an unaware mook, you should only aim to incapacitate them. If you intend to kill, make your presence known first.