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Spore
2016-10-16, 07:31 AM
Greetings playground,

we are currently planning on a D&D 5 campaign in a modern Dungeonpunk setting (with mobiles and cars but also magic and swords). The city is overrun with corrupt rich people and the slums which we start in are controlled by a mob boss named Riley.

My two favorite characters of past campaigns were (fanatically) good to the point of self destruction. This time I want to try something different. My character should "show potential for heroic deeds" as per request of the DM. But deep deep inside I want to introduce evil parts into my neutral character. I dislike "neutral" being basically "diet good".

The character got tossed from a rich family after learning that he is the product of an affair his mother had. (He is also a Shifter, so I want to use parts of wolf pack mentality here). At age 13 he had to fight for himself down in the slums. After a while he went into the army and they found out his affinity to nature magic (ranger). They put him into an important task force infiltrating enemy territory (strictly speaking both countries are not at war). There he executed an enemy general to save his entire platoon. This was a diplomatic desaster leading to him deserting the task force before he could be imprisoned for war crimes. Now he is stuck in the slums again, using his abilities to track down individuals for money. He noticed that his half brother is using his family's fortune to support the leading gang boss (basically our BBEG).

Do you think the following personality traits are reasonable?

1) Using the wolf pack analogy, anyone able to defend themselves or supporting people who defend them are worth fighting for. A poor and sick beggar? I'd kill him to put him out of his misery as he pulls the community down.

2) Hunting down one of the mob bosses' goons and cornering him? Yup, we torture him for the needed information and then kill him.

3) Someone breaks into our territory threatening our people? Break his arms and send him back as a statement.

Of course none of these decisions are mine alone and I will probably not be able to do so without subterfuge but the intent of evil for the sake of good should be there. What do you think?

Knitifine
2016-10-16, 07:52 AM
Using the wolf pack analogy, anyone able to defend themselves or supporting people who defend them are worth fighting for. A poor and sick beggar? I'd kill him to put him out of his misery as he pulls the community down.This is the kind of mentality that puts you in the Lawful Evil camp pretty much immediately no matter what extra 'good' you do on the side. So I'd avoid that.


Hunting down one of the mob bosses' goons and cornering him? Yup, we torture him for the needed information and then kill him.Well aside from the fact that torture doesn't actually work, assuming your character is too dumb to know that this is a fairly reasonable 'evil' element to a neutral character's worldview. The whole "I don't want to do it, but someone has to."


Someone breaks into our territory threatening our people? Break his arms and send him back as a statement.I would rate this as a neutral action.

Koo Rehtorb
2016-10-16, 09:34 AM
I'm a fan of being touchy and very willing to go to violence over perceived insignificant slights.

You can't be too aggressive about it and go around murdering people in their sleep. But you can demand apologies over things, smack people around if they refuse, and kill people if they keep doing it after being warned.

dps
2016-10-16, 12:33 PM
This is a touchy area, but you could consider making him a bit misogynistic or racist. This can be a good roll-playing element that allows for character development over time (becoming less bigoted), but I advise caution in using this. Talk to the DM and other players about it first to make sure that no on is uncomfortable with the concept, and that everyone is clear that this is a personality trait of your character, not you. If anyone is uncomfortable with the idea, don't do it. In that case, I concur with Koo Rehtorb's suggestion.

Ashes
2016-10-16, 12:54 PM
My two favorite characters of past campaigns were (fanatically) good to the point of self destruction. This time I want to try something different. My character should "show potential for heroic deeds" as per request of the DM. But deep deep inside I want to introduce evil parts into my neutral character. I dislike "neutral" being basically "diet good".


Your DM obviously wants to run a Good campaign. Don't ruin that. Save the character for the next one.

Geddy2112
2016-10-16, 01:32 PM
1) Using the wolf pack analogy, anyone able to defend themselves or supporting people who defend them are worth fighting for. A poor and sick beggar? I'd kill him to put him out of his misery as he pulls the community down.
Second that this is pretty textbook LE. Might makes right to keep structure and order and not hesitating to kill for a greater good are Lawful Evil 101.


2) Hunting down one of the mob bosses' goons and cornering him? Yup, we torture him for the needed information and then kill him.
Hunting down a goon in and of itself is not really an aligned action.
Torture instantly puts you into the not good camp by most standards. The thing is, neutral people only use torture as a last resort to get information, as an absolute necessity. Neutral people also don't enjoy torture and will likely show remorse by saying things like "I wish it did not have to go down that way". Evil people will be a okay torturing somebody, and most will enjoy it. You don't have to go to the extreme of turning torture into some form of sadomasochistic sexual thing, but you should at least be willing to do horrible things to an enemy, and sleep like a baby afterward.


3) Someone breaks into our territory threatening our people? Break his arms and send him back as a statement.
If you are needlessly sadistic about it, maybe evil. Otherwise, roughing an enemy up and sending him back as a warning is not evil. If the injuries are not permanent, even good(looking at you CG) people are not against giving him a good whooping and sending him back to show that they will fight to defend themselves. It really gets evil when you start crucifying enemies around your territory, sending heads/fingers back, videos of torture and gruesome deaths/mutilation.


Of course none of these decisions are mine alone and I will probably not be able to do so without subterfuge but the intent of evil for the sake of good should be there. What do you think?
Certainly the road to hell is paved with good intentions. You can be an evil character but still root for the good outcome of the campaign. You should say things like "there is no other way" or "we have to do this for the greater good" and "we have to fight them on their level, we can't hold back and show quarter" etc etc.

Overall, the good team can win, and you can be the bad guy who did the things they needed done, but were too soft to do. Let the group goody goodies know that you are there to do the stuff they can't. Their hands are clean, yours are not. If dirty things have to be done, only yours should get dirty.

Zampanů
2016-10-16, 01:37 PM
Neutral characters in a good campaign have a lot of extra wiggle room. A morally dubious intimidate check can really grease the wheels of the plot. Obviously if the DM wants to impose consequences for evil action, then you'll have to weigh the costs and benefits. But my true neutral character is always pragmatic.

Spore
2016-10-16, 05:32 PM
Taking your input into consideration I will dial down the cruelty to a minimum where I can believably say: "I did what has to be done."


Neutral characters in a good campaign have a lot of extra wiggle room. A morally dubious intimidate check can really grease the wheels of the plot. Obviously if the DM wants to impose consequences for evil action, then you'll have to weigh the costs and benefits. But my true neutral character is always pragmatic.

I had a pragmatic CN Alchemist in a Pathfinder campaign. Playing him with Cha 7 (crippling anxiety!) in an extremely pragmatic way ultimatively robbed me of any fun I had with the character and his developments.

He was ignoring the feelings and opinions of both enemies and the group alike. He accepted gifts from an evil fallen angel who wanted revenge on the nobles that corrupted her into a devilish form. Gifts that most likely stemmed from murdered victims. The devil helped the group bypassing some enemy groups (by infecting the whole enemy base with bubonic plague).

While this is certainly not text-book pragmatism it is very convenient for the group and was accepted by 2 of 5 members of the group. So I can really overdo pragmatism and evil for the sake of convenience. I fear that instantly torturing captured prisoners might yield similar negative results. Although the players are vastly different. Also the characters seem to be muddied greyish white (mostly good with a good dose of egoism). The Paladin (who will probably be the face and party leader) seems to be neutral good but he is also amnesiac and is a Vengeance Paladin whose kit does lend itself for instant judge jury and executioner gameplay.

Geddy2112
2016-10-17, 01:41 PM
I fear that instantly torturing captured prisoners might yield similar negative results.
Torture should never be a default for a neutral character-even most evil characters won't default to torture if they don't need it. The thing is, for your character, torture is a totally viable option if need be. It might be the last option, or closer to last, but it is certainly on the table. Likewise, the threat of torture from your character is very legitimate.

There is no need to torture people who are cooperating, even if they need to be buttered up a bit. Even the sickest evil monster knows you catch more flies with honey than vinegar if they are halfway intelligent.


Also the characters seem to be muddied greyish white (mostly good with a good dose of egoism). The Paladin (who will probably be the face and party leader) seems to be neutral good but he is also amnesiac and is a Vengeance Paladin whose kit does lend itself for instant judge jury and executioner gameplay.
The key here is to play the anti-hero. You have bad guy traits, but you are on the good guy team. You are fighting for your own selfish and evil reasons, but your endgame results in the good team winning. Nobody should question how much you hate the bad guys or your dedication to the good team victory, even if they think your methods of fighting evil are well...evil.

Sometimes the anti heroes are the only ones that can do the job, and it takes a hero/antihero team(Colossus and Deadpool from the recent Deadpool movie) to save the day. Don't showboat your evil behavior in front of the paladin, and always remind him that you are allies. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, war makes strange bedfellows, etc etc.

Segev
2016-10-17, 02:07 PM
It sounds like what you should focus on here isn't "adding evil" to balance the "diet good," but rather your motivations.

Neutral people aren't "diet good" unless they're "good-intentioned, but too selfish/weak-willed to really act it."

No, what I think you're looking for is the "what's in it for me?" neutral. Keeping your allies happy? Hanging out with friends? Doing friends favors because you know they're there for you? Neutral people are good with that. But they aren't going to go out of their way to help others who aren't close to them. Not without there being something in it for them. They want pay before they'll help that orphan brat find his lost macguffin that his sister had when she was kidnapped. They are going to help the pretty girl because they hope she'll take a shine to him, and will ignore the ugly down-and-out man who needs help more desperately.

But they also won't willfully hurt others. They will be rightfully appalled that Dastardly O'Badguy kidnapped that orphan girl. And they'd balk at being paid to do the same to her bratty brother. But they're not going to HELP the brats, either.

If you want the "diet good" variety, that's where the grumbling anti-hero comes in. He WILL help the brats...while calling them brats...and trying to find an excuse as to why there's something in it for him.

If you want the "not diet good" version... be self-interested, but don't be cruel and draw the line at hurting people who haven't done anything to you to deserve it. Even if you could be given a palace full of servants to do your bidding for beating up that orphan boy, you wouldn't, because THAT would be wrong.

Spore
2016-10-17, 03:16 PM
If you want the "not diet good" version... be self-interested, but don't be cruel and draw the line at hurting people who haven't done anything to you to deserve it. Even if you could be given a palace full of servants to do your bidding for beating up that orphan boy, you wouldn't, because THAT would be wrong.

That is reasonable and basically just normal behaviour. And that is why I feel it is partly wrong for D&D characters. The classical "murderhobo" is an extreme example for what my gripes is with innocent white knights in shining armor. In D&D you kill stuff and you get loot for it.

Imho you cannot do that while maintaining a good or lawful disposition. You steal from the dead, you kill people because they have other ideals than you. Than in and of itself cannot be good. I want an alignment that allows me to be closer to "kill people who oppose my ideals" and "loot their stuff because I am poor and I don't want to be poor". Or you dispatch important people hampering your way into freeing the slums. Or you make money illegally because someone needs to be able to pay for a revolution.

It is "not right", it is "not good" but is necessary for our plans to work in such a dire situation. We are cornered by areas already under the crime lord's control. We will fight an uphill battle. There is no place for goody-two-shoeing here.

I know the D&D alignment system does not have a huge philosophical background (other than Altruism vs. Egoism) but this thread is not about asking what to write on my charsheet. It is about crafting the idea on where the character draws the line.

Segev
2016-10-17, 04:08 PM
I'd argue that most real-world Western society people would do more "diet good" than "selfish neutral," if only because we have cultural expectations of "Christian charity" or "humanist altruism" as highly-respected virtues. A TN who is honest enough to say "nope, gotta have something in it for me" is almost refreshing, considering how many will strive to find justifications for living up (or down) to that selfish attitude.

"Diet good" is Neutral but can be guilted into Good behavior - generosity, altruism, helpfulness - for little to nothing in return. At least, that's how I read it.

As to "where to draw the line," I'd say it's simply "don't hurt others who don't deserve it." (If you need a rigid definition of "who doesn't deserve it" vs. "who does," then you're looking for LN, not TN or CN.)

Spore
2016-10-18, 12:16 PM
A TN who is honest enough to say "nope, gotta have something in it for me" is almost refreshing, considering how many will strive to find justifications for living up (or down) to that selfish attitude.

I agree but I almost live that attitude then (without flatout saying it) and sometimes I get so much flak for it. For being selfish. For not being a good team member. In the context I will not carry "weak" team members if the weakness is not temporary. I will not do more work if my perfectly apt coworker is just too lazy or too tired or too anything to do her part of the work. Just because people like her create any reason to go slow.

In the game context I will cover my team in order to make up for their weaknesses and expect help in return (i.e. in fights). I will however not look for the estranged daughter of a single father for free. I will protect him from money extortion however.

Lacuna Caster
2016-10-21, 05:00 AM
That is reasonable and basically just normal behaviour. And that is why I feel it is partly wrong for D&D characters. The classical "murderhobo" is an extreme example for what my gripes is with innocent white knights in shining armor. In D&D you kill stuff and you get loot for it.

Imho you cannot do that while maintaining a good or lawful disposition. You steal from the dead, you kill people because they have other ideals than you. Than in and of itself cannot be good. I want an alignment that allows me to be closer to "kill people who oppose my ideals" and "loot their stuff because I am poor and I don't want to be poor". Or you dispatch important people hampering your way into freeing the slums. Or you make money illegally because someone needs to be able to pay for a revolution.
Well... theoretically the white knight is supposed to be killing people with opposed ideals because those ideals consist of murder, rape and torture, so it's more 'expedited justice' and less 'commercial organ harvesting'. ...In theory.

You're correct that D&D doesn't typically examine this assumption too closely, but by the same token much of this griping about motivation doesn't really matter a bunch- the GM will prep a dungeon and the unspoken agreement among players is that you will enter said dungeon to loot and slay. If this paradigm doesn't apply in your group, well bully... but then reasonable and normal behaviour should be reasonable and normal.

So yeah, +1 for 'calculated adhesion to interest of self or immediate group members, with indifference to side-effects.'

Mastikator
2016-10-21, 06:03 AM
Your DM obviously wants to run a Good campaign. Don't ruin that. Save the character for the next one.

I second this. Whatever character idea you have, shelf it. Play another good character. If you want to put some darkness in him then do that but ultimately do not make the group suffer for your own selfish interest.

Spore
2016-10-22, 04:59 PM
I second this. Whatever character idea you have, shelf it. Play another good character. If you want to put some darkness in him then do that but ultimately do not make the group suffer for your own selfish interest.

If I do good - in a scale on how I understand good, thus being radiantly good with divine powers and all - I would essentially be the third guy fighting for the same god (the Sacred Flame in our homebrew setting), doubling up on either cleric or paladin. I cannot believably slaughter gangsters of our antagonizing mob boss and still believe in a good alignment on my sheet. At least not without looking for other ways to solve these conflicts. And boy am I tired of trying to solve simple problems in roleplaying games with talking.

D&D is made to do combat in, more than half the system is centered around fighting. Avoiding combat seems to defeat the point. Having a naive Paladin kill for the greater good is the only way I can accept someone slaughtering for good anymore.

No, no. I prefer being true neutral. I will fight for the good faction and try to get as much payment as needed (not as possible) because the good guys won't impose on my way to live. They won't extort money from me, they won't use my ranger's powers to track down and kill the enemies of the mob boss. And this is reason enough to cooperate with them.

Also I need some contrast to the campaign (in the same setting, with the same DM) that we dropped with my valiant Halfling Paladin in it. I won't double up on playing a Paladin (both in the old campaign with me AND in the new campaign with the Vengeance Paladin).

Shackel
2016-10-22, 10:00 PM
If I do good - in a scale on how I understand good, thus being radiantly good with divine powers and all - I would essentially be the third guy fighting for the same god (the Sacred Flame in our homebrew setting), doubling up on either cleric or paladin. I cannot believably slaughter gangsters of our antagonizing mob boss and still believe in a good alignment on my sheet. At least not without looking for other ways to solve these conflicts. And boy am I tired of trying to solve simple problems in roleplaying games with talking.

If your issue is a Good person wouldn't be the proactive one killing gangsters that are slowly squeezing a city dry through corruption and horrible acts, disregarding the fact that saving the city from them would be Good anyway, have you considered nonlethal attacks?

Segev
2016-10-23, 11:03 AM
Then don't insert "evil" traits other than the willingness to beat up the people you want to. It sounds like "what you can't do while good, but want to" is sufficient to be TN, here.

RazorChain
2016-10-23, 03:19 PM
That is reasonable and basically just normal behaviour. And that is why I feel it is partly wrong for D&D characters. The classical "murderhobo" is an extreme example for what my gripes is with innocent white knights in shining armor. In D&D you kill stuff and you get loot for it.

Imho you cannot do that while maintaining a good or lawful disposition. You steal from the dead, you kill people because they have other ideals than you. Than in and of itself cannot be good. I want an alignment that allows me to be closer to "kill people who oppose my ideals" and "loot their stuff because I am poor and I don't want to be poor". Or you dispatch important people hampering your way into freeing the slums. Or you make money illegally because someone needs to be able to pay for a revolution.

It is "not right", it is "not good" but is necessary for our plans to work in such a dire situation. We are cornered by areas already under the crime lord's control. We will fight an uphill battle. There is no place for goody-two-shoeing here.

I know the D&D alignment system does not have a huge philosophical background (other than Altruism vs. Egoism) but this thread is not about asking what to write on my charsheet. It is about crafting the idea on where the character draws the line.

This is why I would just ignore the alignment system altogether, it just tries to shoehorn you into some niche. Rather think about who your character is, what motivates him, what are his personality traits. Is he greedy? Lecherous? Selfish? Callous? Honest? Truthful? Pragmatic to a fault? Overconfident? Cowardly?

And then you just enter play and take it from there. Alignment is really just there to ruin your roleplaying freedom.

The bottom line is that most adventurers are neutral evil anyway. A group of people that goes out of their way to kill animals and sub-humans to get rich and powerful.

Spore
2016-10-23, 04:57 PM
Agreed. He should be moderately selfish, do the first jobs for money (before any real friendship exists between the characters) and have a quite misanthropic attitude. Most humans he knew let him down and disappointed him and he will be slow to trust people. I see no reason why he should trust the PCs quicker just because they are player characters. This is part of the challenge for the group. I have enough reason to better my surroundings from being selfish that I don't need to make the world an universal better place. I just need to make my place better.

Segev
2016-10-23, 08:01 PM
Ultimately, Sporegg, just write "good" on the character sheet, and play him the way you want to play him. If he slips from "good," so be it. If he doesn't, so be it. Don't force traits on him to match an alignment. It sounds like you KNOW how you want to play him. So just play him that way. Let the DM worry about what his alignment is.

Spore
2016-10-24, 02:41 AM
It sounds like you KNOW how you want to play him. So just play him that way.

Since I have opened this thread I have written his backstory. This might explain my sudden clarity in how my character should act like. This also explains why the character wants to act human but is pulled to feral behaviour every now and then.