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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    theres nothing wrong with enjoying a game of DnD and getting to turn your brain off and just enjoy the experience
    turning your brain off, play DnD, and wallowing in racism and genocide just to enjoy the experience?
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    How does the existence of history books make stories less relevant to modern culture, philosophy, religion, and psychology?

    Saying the only purpose of stories should be entertainment is like saying the only purpose of ingesting food should be survival or the only purpose of architecture should be the to find the most cost effective structurally sound building plans.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    I tend to think that this sort of thinking, taken to an extreme, is a campaign against much of fantasy and science fiction in general, and leads to highly moralistic, straightjacketed D&D play.
    Fine, except what you've actually done is not highlight an argument that can be taken to extremes, but conflate two completely separate discussions out of a desire to reach the conclusion that the author is Doing It Wrong.

    Rich argues against the reduction of nonhumans to monsters that grant XP. He also makes most nonhumans intelligent in a very human way. That does not mean Burlew is against the idea of alien intelligences. I'm sure he would be happy with the Moties from The Mote in God's Eye, for example. He's just not writing the nonhumans in OotS that way.

    A good rule of thumb is that if your forced interpretation of the Giant's statements leads to an obviously stupid conclusion, that your interpretation is probably incorrect, because the Giant tends not to be obviously stupid.
    Last edited by Math_Mage; 2013-09-16 at 05:25 AM.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Math_Mage View Post
    Rich argues against the reduction of nonhumans to monsters that grant XP. He also makes most nonhumans intelligent in a very human way. That does not mean Burlew is against the idea of alien intelligences.
    This might, though.

    I don't know that "making inhuman sapients actually inhuman" is inherently invalid. I do know that every time I've seen someone on this board use that phrase--prominently and centrally including this thread--it's a blatant euphemism for, "Stop telling me there's something wrong with having goblins as walking targets," part of an argument for less moral complexity, not more. Immediately after "They think fundamentally differently from us" this argument always seems to get to, "And all we need to or should want to understand about how they think is that it means we should treat them like humanoid virii."
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    "The really unforgivable acts are committed by calm men in beautiful green silk rooms, who deal death wholesale, by the shipload, without lust, or anger, or desire, or any redeeming emotion to excuse them but cold fear of some pretended future. But the crimes they hope to prevent in the future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present--they are real." --Aral Vorkosigan

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    This, in a nutshell.
    Yes, exactly.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    My problem with the 'sometimes monsters should just be monsters' argument is that more often than not, it's laziness dressed up in fancy words. It's one thing to desire a convincing depiction of a truly inhuman sapience. But in context of fantasy and sci-fi, most such arguments boil down to a desire for enemies that are ostensibly sapient, but that the heroes do not need to act moral towards.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    This might, though.

    I don't know that "making inhuman sapients actually inhuman" is inherently invalid. I do know that every time I've seen someone on this board use that phrase--prominently and centrally including this thread--it's a blatant euphemism for, "Stop telling me there's something wrong with having goblins as walking targets," part of an argument for less moral complexity, not more. Immediately after "They think fundamentally differently from us" this argument always seems to get to, "And all we need to or should want to understand about how they think is that it means we should treat them like humanoid virii."
    Fair citation and fair point. I disagree with the Giant there--while a truly alien race by itself may not teach us anything, human interaction with such a race supplies the reflections he discusses. It would be difficult to write an interesting or useful story with NO human viewpoint, but that's not the same as writing a story with alien viewpoints.
    Last edited by Math_Mage; 2013-09-16 at 05:57 AM.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    You can have inhuman intelligences that live in peace with humans. A creature can view violent clashes as a part of day to day life to be kept within limits but still indulged in to establish your role in society, and see the theft of food as the greatest crime possible punishable by the most severe of penalties, and still be a dog.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by archon_huskie View Post
    turning your brain off, play DnD, and wallowing in racism and genocide just to enjoy the experience?
    except its not (or could be argued as such) racism or genocide. As they are fictional creatures. and -NO MATTER- what they may -REPRESENT- the FACT that they are NOT real creatures NEVER changes.

    I would equate looking down on someone for allowing people to kill goblins "because they are goblins" with looking down on someone because they decided to have their character kill another one without a fair trial or any proof the person WOULD threaten them in the future (and just testimony).

    Yes it would be reprehensible for the character, but the character did it not the player. and the player is not guilty for the crimes of his character because those crimes are not his crimes. and also the crimes are make believe.
    and as such that there is no racism and genocide because the only person committing or feeling that doesnt exist.

    the only crime committed is possibly lazy roleplaying or a -game- that doesnt take into account real life morals. I mean i'd love to play in a dark gritty game where we where faced with real life decisions and where deeply attached to our characters. But you cant fault someone for glossing over something irrelevant to the game just because you want damage dealing bags of experience to have some semblance (<--emphasis)of life .

    -------------------------------------------

    separate from that i'd think that the main line is drawn at creatures that are known to exist only to create evil. That doesnt mean breed for it, or raised to it. As in this thing's was possibly created to commit evil, and that everything that exists about it exists in order to help it commit evil (for instance its ability to love only exists because it allows it to form lasting bonds with kin and protect each other for continued evil, and breed to create more evil monsters).

    Such creatures would have to be very special as even upon hatching they would be inclined to make you suffer (or otherwise try to commit what evil acts they are capable.) For instance a larva or baby monster who can only hear when it is born but it knows that whatever it hears wants to make suffer.

    And most creatures in any books i've read aren't like that.

    I do think that in one dragonlance book we saw that Black dragons really where evil. We only got perspective from a black dragon weeks after it hatched so the big final question would be when it became sentient and how it felt then. But at the end of the story we saw that it was only using the children as a form of protection and that it was satisfied when it found its new home that when he was big enough he would be able to subjugate the surrounding area. And that the only reason it allowed the humans to live is so their families wouldnt go hunting for him. Basically this baby dragon was extremely evil with no other nurture than a girl who risked her life to save it.


    Also, i need to interject that Sentient does not mean telling right from wrong. its self awareness or "able to perceive or feel things." or basically not just seeing something but understanding it.

    So you can have a person who is completely evil and would only do something "good" for evil reasons (probably it being something that benefited him) but still be actually sentient.

    not to mention that inability to determine good from evil being sentience, means that alot of humans aren't sentient.....
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Forikroder, I think you are wrong about a thick line between reality and fiction. It does not exist.

    History books for children contain massively simplified versions of events, sometimes to the point of being pure fiction (especially when there are illustrations and colorful dialogs); other history books are just politically corrected by the current government and can massively deviate from truth; and anyway all history is our attempt at reconstructing facts, we don't really know what happened, it's all our interpretation.

    Furthermore, what about history novels, "reconstructing" documentaries? Are these reality or fiction? Where is the line?

    Forum dwellers. All you know about us is what we choose to tell about ourselves, and you do not know whether it is true or false. You don't know anything about me - you don't know whether I am really a girl, or maybe I'm a guy who likes to pretend to be a girl in the internet. Maybe my avatar was really drawn by my little brother and I just write that I made it to look better in everyone's eyes. Maybe I'm not really Ukrainian, maybe I'm Australian who has fun pretending to be from another country. You know what I choose to tell about myself, and you have to construct my opinion about me without any knowledge of reality/fiction divide. The same applies to everyone else here, and to everything you see on the internet - any reality/fiction line is very thin and can be put by every person in different place.

    Every story brings two messages: factual and emotional. Emotional message helps us remember facts, so it's present everywhere, in all stories, from newspapers and magazines to school textbooks. Fictional stories indeed do not convey any factual message, and it's important to distinguish between real facts and made-up facts. Their value is their emotional message - this situtation makes us feel this way, that situation makes us feel that way. And it's emotional messages that create over moral compass, facts have nothing to do with it; it's just that when we know that facts are real, we can percieve emotional messages that much stronger.

    Human brain is wired to sympathise and empathise with images of other people, because basically an image in our brain is always all that we have. A photo of a model on a magazine cover, an avatar and a signature on the forum... we can empathise with them more than we do with a stranger on the street who we see with our own eyes and who is definitely real. We can choose who to empathise with, who to percieve as a person and who not. Our empathy can extend to animals (always, everywhere, we consider a person mentally ill if they do not empathise with animals at all), plants, inanimate objects, purely metaphysical concepts - anything that we choose.

    And criteria for such empathy are mostly not related to being real or not. Who do you empathise with more - Roy Greenhilt or Adolph Hitler? Who would you want to succeed, in whose feelings and personal development are you more interested?


    When you choose not to empathise, it's what is called "dehumanizing". There's nothing wrong with dehumanizing stones, your computer, sky and sun; however, the more you dehumanize and the closer to real people these objects are, the more distant you become from real people too. Do you empathise with the characters of the newspaper article? People who you have never met and are not sure even really exist?


    P.S. Just in case: I really am Ukrainian, I really am a girl, I really draw my avatars myself and they are even more or less close to my actual appearance, except I'm bad at conveying facial likeness and am generous enough in drawing body shape. And I really do have a little brother.

    P.P.S. At least that's what I tell you. Enjoy the Mind Screw!
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    Also, as a rule of thumb, if you find yourself defending your inalienable right to make someone else feel like garbage, you're on the wrong side of the argument.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    This might, though.

    I don't know that "making inhuman sapients actually inhuman" is inherently invalid. I do know that every time I've seen someone on this board use that phrase--prominently and centrally including this thread--it's a blatant euphemism for, "Stop telling me there's something wrong with having goblins as walking targets," part of an argument for less moral complexity, not more. Immediately after "They think fundamentally differently from us" this argument always seems to get to, "And all we need to or should want to understand about how they think is that it means we should treat them like humanoid virii."
    While what I've wrote heavily focuses on the "monstrous" aspect of the monster depiction, I think it is a deeper defense than "a defense of first person shooters."

    There are many ways to treat alien intelligences other than as hostile towards humans. The latter is pretty common, not only in pop fantasy, but in mythology and legend. Sometimes these intelligences are personified and given reasons and rational motives for their actions (for example, the Monster in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein acts against human kind only because he's treated so awfully by his creator and everyone else), sometimes they have very alien reasons (the "Buggers" in Ender's game; notably these reasons become understandable once we learn how they think), sometimes no reason at all is given, its just "how they are."

    Its only the latter you seem to have a problem with, the point where humans are confronted by a creatures they find themselves in conflict with but cannot (or feel no need to) understand why these creatures are in conflict with humans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Math_Mage View Post
    Fair citation and fair point. I disagree with the Giant there--while a truly alien race by itself may not teach us anything, human interaction with such a race supplies the reflections he discusses. It would be difficult to write an interesting or useful story with NO human viewpoint, but that's not the same as writing a story with alien viewpoints.
    So if we table stories surrounding deadly conflict can we all agree stories can be told with aliens with an alien viewpoint?

    I think the problem Kish has is when the aliens are depicted specifically in the sort of way that allows us to kill them without consideration of the creatures individuality or motives.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    It would have been awesome if the writers had put as much thought into it as you guys do.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    Order of the Stick has seemingly chosen to portray all of its sentient creatures in highly personified, anthropomorphic (and anachronistic) ways. From Mama black dragon, who explicitly leaves her teenage son alone expecting him to do typical contemporary American teenage home-alone things to Sabine a succubus who appears to actually love and show true loyalty to Nale. Even Xykon misses his bad cup of joe and prefers to remain stylishly crowned rather than wear the tatters of his former clothing without regard to the decay (as a Lich is supposed to do according to the Monster Manual).

    This treatment has naturally led to a number of situations that have lead to deeper ethical thinking than a typical dungeon crawl usually induces. This has also led numerous people to think, however, that personification of fantasy monsters is the only proper way to portray them. Encouraging that behavior is a number of statements by the Giant, who has suggested the standard D&D treatment of goblins is racist, and that killing a single dragon because it is a dragon is wrong.
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    Originally Posted by The Giant (Don't Split the Party commentary);
    Vaarsuvius finds him/herself at the dragon's mercy because he/she never thinks to take precautions against her, despite knowing that the dragon he/she killed shared a home with another. Vaarsuvius then repeats and amplifies this misconception when he/she casts the custom-made familicide spell, essentially speaking for all players who say, "All monsters are evil and exist only for us to kill." But hopefully when the reader sees the scale on which Vaarsuvius carries out the devastation, the error of this thinking is more obvious. If it is wrong to kill a thousand dragons simply because they are dragons, then it is wrong to kill a single dragon for the same reasons.
    Also, I'm not sure what it says about fantasy roleplaying that I felt the need to make the argument against genocide. Probably best that I not think about it too much.


    I tend to think that this sort of thinking, taken to an extreme, is a campaign against much of fantasy and science fiction in general, and leads to highly moralistic, straightjacketed D&D play. After all Tolkien, quite a bit of classical mythology, not to mention an endless supply of robot, alien, and monster media tend towards an "other" characterizations of at least certain nonhuman intelligences. This "otherness" ranges from the thin treatment I interpret the Giant as railing against (the notion that certain intelligences are "monsters" can be killed for no other reason, even if the label hasn't even backed up by anything except the fact that the monsters look ugly) to points where the creatures alienness is backed up merely by deeds and lack of personification (arguably raptors in Jurassic Park; most aliens); to (relatively few) treatments where alien lifeforms are given a rich but inhuman treatment that allows for complex human interaction (Orson Scott Card's Speaker of the Dead sequels to Ender's Game; Arguably at least some of Asimov's robots).

    While many works of fiction are not very ethically deep (in more ways than just how they depict their non-humans), the ultimate in not allowing for the otherness at all in non-humans (and rejecting any categorical expectations of treatment of them) is the opposite of being ethically and ethnically inclusive, it is in fact, IMO narrow-minded bigotry in reverse.

    Sometimes, monsters are meant to be just that, monsters. They are made to be that way because they are personifications of our fear, have radically different physiology, drives, and brains (if they even have brains) or because they come from their own cultural-framework which simply doesn't value human life (if it even values life). Monsters are this way and they can be appropriately killed (though perhaps not made to suffer needlessly) because that is their role in the story.

    One can raise the issue that such non-personalized treatments of monsters is pure escapism and Fantasy literature is ONLY worthwhile for what it can tell us about the real world. However, let us look at the other intelligences (if different and perhaps simpler than us) we find in the animal world. Duck imprint on their mother or occasionally, a random object, and follow whatever around till adulthood, dogs will kill another dog's pups. Even so, there is the claim that any inhuman treatment of creatures that are as intelligent of us encourage bigotry. In contrast, the fiction that inhuman creatures exist that do think in inhuman ways can make quite the opposite point. Should we imagine inhuman creatures existing possessing very alien and evil intelligence that must be dealt with categorically, the differences between human beings become so superficial that it is immediately obvious how petty those difference are when there is a point of view for comparison.
    Great, it's the old, "You're a bigot for not condoning my bigotry," argument.

    You can write (or play) non-humans any way you want to; I am not required to do the same. I would much rather deal with the more pressing issue of how we treat the other humans walking around this planet who look or act a little differently from us. When alien intelligences show up and start getting discriminated against, I will be happy to write about those, too. Until then, priorities. There are literally billions of words written in other works about killing orcs or goblins or whatever with nary a peep about the morality of such; I'm not going to feel guilty about raising one lone objection.

    Further, it's a comedy. Monsters acting like typical humans is potentially funny; monsters acting in incomprehensibly alien ways is not.

    And more to the point, as I am a vegetarian and strong supporter of animal rights, making the argument that includes the idea that animals are different from us and that's why we're allowed to kill them is not going to hold very much water. It seems that the fact that a duck baby might imprint on an object is part of the reason why you feel they don't deserve rights, but I fundamentally disagree with that position. Yes, including wholly alien evil monsters in a work can prove the "opposite point" from the idea that animals have inherent worth as life forms, and that's a good reason why I don't include themóbecause I don't ever want to prove that point.

    Further, this post is right on target as well (bolding mine):

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogardan_Mage View Post
    I suspect that in Rich's case, he does not believe that alien intelligence absolves the mindless slaughter of fantasy monsters. So he presents his monsters with human intelligence because people would otherwise not notice this point. A monster that acts like a monster does not raise any eyebrows, a monster that acts like a human reminds people that these are living, thinking creatures and may cause them to re-examine their views on the more monstrous monsters. The Black Dragon family in OotS is a pretty good example of this, with the child being monstrous (at first blush, at least) and the mother hammering home the point later on in the story.

    tl;dr, alien intelligence does not excuse killing monsters because of what they are, but it does conceal the ethical question from most people.
    Has anyone ever noticed that nobody ever complains that I don't include peaceful altruistic goblins who are wholly alien in their ability to get along better than we do? No, they always want rampaging monsters who can be killed with impunity. It's always, "Why are you making me feel bad about murder?"
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    I would also add that it's always goblins and orcs who should be 'alien' instead of 'green skinned humans'. Elves, dwarves and halflings show up in those argments sometimes, but they're just as often, if not more, notably absent - including this thread. In a purely D&D context, "usually Neutral Evil" in the goblin statblock seems to mean, to some people, something wholly different than "usually Chaotic Good" in the elven statblock.
    Last edited by Morty; 2013-09-16 at 09:36 AM.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I would also add that it's always goblins and orcs who should be 'alien' instead of 'green skinned humans'. Elves, dwarves and halflings show up in those argments sometimes, but they're just as often, if not more, notably absent - including this thread. In a purely D&D context, "usually Neutral Evil" in the goblin statblock seems to mean, to some people, something wholly different than "usually Chaotic Good" in the elven statblock.
    Also a good point. No one ever complains that Vaarsuvius, Durkon, and Belkar are too humanlike and would be better off portrayed as inhuman alien minds that we can only barely comprehend much less empathize with. It's only the green people that are a problem.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Great, it's the old, "You're a bigot for not condoning my bigotry," argument.

    You can write (or play) non-humans any way you want to; I am not required to do the same. I would much rather deal with the more pressing issue of how we treat the other humans walking around this planet who look or act a little differently from us. When alien intelligences show up and start getting discriminated against, I will be happy to write about those, too. Until then, priorities. There are literally billions of words written in other works about killing orcs or goblins or whatever with nary a peep about the morality of such; I'm not going to feel guilty about raising one lone objection.

    Further, it's a comedy. Monsters acting like typical humans is potentially funny; monsters acting in incomprehensibly alien ways is not.
    I did not accuse you of the extreme position (disallowing any inhuman characterization of nonhumans in any form of literature or game) but I did claim your comments encourage that characterization that others have pushed.

    Anthropomorphic depiction of all the creatures is funny. I love the depiction of outsiders as members of some sort of bureaucracy or corporate hierarchy, Celia as a middle-class 20-something law student, and so on. I think there's something very insightful on the portrayal of goblins and dragons.

    I suggest animals have very alien viewpoints and values. I do not opine on animals lacking ethical status (indeed the notion as I think about it sickens me).

    My starting point was certain comments in the 918 thread that discrimination of any kind against any sort of sentience for any reason is wrong. That any sort of interaction with nonhumans as anything except individual persons on the basis of equality is lawful evil.

    Looking back, I made my points too much in favor of the literature that allows for violent conflict without necessarily offering any analysis or discussion of motives of creatures.

    I do not see where I have suggested that the OOTS comics are at fault in how it has depicted its creatures. I certainly do not mean to. I find it insightful, I find it funny, and I love every strip of it.

    Edit: In the end there are many varieties of literature that gives various levels of depth in the motives to the creatures it depicts. If you wish to attack escapists struggles between humans and monsters as racists I will not protest. However, I do feel an odd twinge about treating mythological depictions of nonhuman creatures as encouraging racism, and I certainly do not see anything in horror stories that way.

    The one thing I really, REALLY want to put an end to, is this claim that any interaction with a sentient creatures, at all, must be done on a purely non-discriminatory basis as if among humans or else be "lawful evil." One does not look a strange vampire in the eye, or date a succubus unless one is really sure this one isn't going to be like some of their peers.
    Last edited by Reddish Mage; 2013-09-16 at 10:09 AM. Reason: A few clarifications
    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    It would have been awesome if the writers had put as much thought into it as you guys do.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Since elves have been brought up now, does anyone know any good recent fiction that treats them as...well, alien? It seems like now they're at most portrayed as arrogant, stuck up humans, but in the original myths they could be downright unsettling, and the Elder Scrolls (and Dwarf Fortress too I suppose) did a nice job with making some of them fanatical cannibals...
    Google query for the Giant's posts, for those of us who think they're way more interesting than yet another speculation thread but don't have time to read every thread on the forum to find one he's posting in.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    I suggest animals have very alien viewpoints and values. I do not opine on animals lacking ethical status (indeed the notion as I think about it sickens me).
    That's good to know. I think the last paragraph of your post got away from you, then.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    My starting point was certain comments in the 918 thread that discrimination of any kind against any sort of sentience for any reason is wrong. That any sort of interaction with nonhumans as anything except individual persons on the basis of equality is lawful evil.
    Oh, I totally disagree with that. It could easily be Neutral Evil, or Chaotic Evil even. It depends on the situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    I do not see where I have suggested that the OOTS comics are at fault in how it has depicted its creatures. I certainly do not mean to. I find it insightful, I find it funny, and I love every strip of it.
    You put this thread in the OOTS board, then presented your opinion of how OOTS presents this point, and finally argued why you think that point is wrong. It is very difficult to read that as anything but an implicit criticism. If that wasn't your intent, then it's a communication issue. But not everyone reads every other thread here (especially the Discussion Thread after a while), so if your post needs context from another discussion you should consider presenting it before you begin your thesis.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    im sure in the past when those storys were basically there version of a history book

    in the modern world though we have actual history books and actual events we can show our children and explain why some things should or shouldnt be done
    Except that History doesn't work that way.

    Learning real, actual history is a long and (for most people) boring process (I have a Ph.D in History so I know what I'm talking about). Most people aren't going to go through a 500-page-book just to understand the fluctuation of the price of grain in La Champagne region during the XIII century, for example.

    Then comes interpreting History, which is just a subjective process. Two people can learn everything about a particular event and yet come to very different moral conclussions. Most people don't even bother to learn the basics about a particular event before using it to give a moral lesson.

    Fiction is a more effective way to drive the point home because:

    1) You can present your case straight, without having to bother with the complexity, ramifications, and almost infinite points of view of actual historical facts.

    2) No one will invalidate your conclussions because "you got fact X wrong" or "you hand-picked the facts that suited to your perspective and totally ignored this huge lot of facts that did not", or just "you are badmouthing my tribe/country/ideology/religion so la-la-la I'm not hearing you".

    3) It's more honest to write an story of Black and White morality than to turn History into a story of Black and White morality.

    4) It's shorter and more entertaining.
    Last edited by The Pilgrim; 2013-09-16 at 10:11 AM.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Does this mean we can't kill orcs and goblins at all and all the media against it is racist? Even if Sauron is leading an army or they're in the way of Xykon at the dungeon? Does this mean Roy did wrong when he slit all the throats of sleeping goblins

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunken Valley View Post
    Does this mean Roy did wrong when he slit all the throats of sleeping goblins
    Maybe I'm being too bold for suggesting it, but I guess that in Rich Burlew's personal list of "things I regret having done in OOTS", Strip #11 panel #1 ranks rather high.
    Last edited by The Pilgrim; 2013-09-16 at 10:32 AM.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    I have a Ph.D in History so I know what I'm talking about
    What combination of the following is it: Unemployed/Teaching History/Researching History?

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunken Valley View Post
    Does this mean we can't kill orcs and goblins at all and all the media against it is racist? Even if Sauron is leading an army or they're in the way of Xykon at the dungeon?
    There is a huge difference between a legion of orcs charging at you with swords drawn and a legion of orcs living in a dungeon that you choose to go into. The point is that any decision about killing people should be based on what they are doing/have done, not their species.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunken Valley View Post
    Does this mean Roy did wrong when he slit all the throats of sleeping goblins
    Probably. Strictly speaking, those specific goblins hadn't attacked him, and I guess it is theoretically possible that they wouldn't have. He didn't choose to make that distinction before killing them, since he had been attacked by every goblin thus far, so that's probably a black mark on his record. Or maybe they stood there at the door and heard the goblins talking about having killed a bunch of villagers or something.

    However, the more accurate assessment is that was strips #11, before there was even the semblance of a plot, and I was far more interested in describing how D&D is played than prescribing how D&D should be played. So it shouldn't be taken as some sort of statement on my part for what is proper behavior.

    EDIT:

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    Maybe I'm being too bold for suggesting it, but I guess that in Rich Burlew's personal list of "things I regret having done in OOTS", Strip #11 panel #1 ranks rather high.
    I wouldn't rank it that high, but yeah. All I would really change would be to have the goblins see the OOTS and draw weapons. While you could still make the argument that subsequently killing them in their sleep wasn't lily-white pure, it would be far more in keeping with Roy's character.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    What if Sauron's army and Xykon's mooks had been human? They'd be an enemy that needed to be killed just the same, so I'm going with no, not racism.

    Roy killing the sleeping goblins has always been an issue, but that was back in the 'joke of the day' days of the strip so I give it a pass.

    As far as fantasy racism in general, my take on it has always been that I, as the player/reader/viewer/whatever, sitting there in my air-conditioned home might be able to take the time to ponder the morality of slaughtering goblins, but the character just sees a big scary tower with spikes all over it populated by the same pointy-teethed creatures that slaughter villages every winter and does what comes naturally. Are they bigots? Probably! Just like the goblins themselves, and pretty much every RL historical person of every culture was in one way or another, and still is today. Even when you're self aware about it, I don't think it's possible for the humans to completely logic their way out of irrational fears, especially when the 'Other' has all the same flaws that you do, and is lashing out and perpetuating the cycle in the same way.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunken Valley View Post
    Does this mean we can't kill orcs and goblins at all and all the media against it is racist? Even if Sauron is leading an army or they're in the way of Xykon at the dungeon? Does this mean Roy did wrong when he slit all the throats of sleeping goblins
    It means that you should not murder Orcs or Goblins because they are Orcs or Goblins. It does not mean that Orcs and Goblins can not be held accountable if they commit an Evil act, such as pillaging, brigandry, slavery or war crimes. However an author (or Dungeon Master) should make clear exactly what the Orcs or Goblins have done to their audience (or Players) and allow the audience to judge if the protagonists are correct to fight the Orcs or Goblins (and a DM should allow the Players to decide what their PCs will do, since PCs have agency, unlike protagonists in a novel or comic book).

    Discussing whether Roy was morally justified or not is a violation of the Forum Rules.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Liliet View Post
    The point of fiction can't be to create things separate from reality, because that's not how human brain works. Readers treat book settings as separate independent realities, use words like "world" and "universe", because human brain is wired to percieve everything it emotionally responds to as "real". What we see in fiction has real impact on our real lifes, that's why books are such a powerful ideological tool. You write a book implying some statement, and if enough people from the same group like the book, they will be much more inclined to agree with the statement as applied to real life. That's how it works.
    And this is the biggest hole in the "Supported Fantastic Racism is Bad" argument - Just because something is true in a world does not mean it's true in our world. Furthermoer, there is continued confusion between "Games" and "Stories". They are NOT synonymous. And Fiction and Non-Fiction are likewise opposed to each other.

    Seriously... a lot of the "People who find it okay to murder goblins for being goblins are evil!" are sounding a lot like Jack Thompson and Patricia Pulling right now.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Solara View Post
    What if Sauron's army and Xykon's mooks had been human?
    Sauron's army did have humans. They brought the Mumakils from the south.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    And when one of them is shot, and dies in front of Sam, we see Sam wondering if this guy really wanted to be there, or if he was made to fight and would have much rather preferred to continue living a normal life.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Solara View Post
    As far as fantasy racism in general, my take on it has always been that I, as the player/reader/viewer/whatever, sitting there in my air-conditioned home might be able to take the time to ponder the morality of slaughtering goblins, but the character just sees a big scary tower with spikes all over it populated by the same pointy-teethed creatures that slaughter villages every winter and does what comes naturally. Are they bigots? Probably! Just like the goblins themselves, and pretty much every RL historical person of every culture was in one way or another, and still is today. Even when you're self aware about it, I don't think it's possible for the humans to completely logic their way out of irrational fears, especially when the 'Other' has all the same flaws that you do, and is lashing out and perpetuating the cycle in the same way.
    This is very true, but I would point out that the target of my critique is not the people living in a medieval fantasy worldóit's the D&D player who lives in the air-conditioned home. I don't care what your D&D character thinks is right or wrong, I care what you think is right or wrong. Whether you then choose to reflect that lesson back into your D&D games is not really my concern.

    In other words, it is perfectly acceptable to say, "My D&D character is sort of racist against goblins," and then play the character accordingly. It's not acceptable to say, "My D&D character is not racist against goblins, he just kills them on sight because they're all Evil."
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Zerter View Post
    What combination of the following is it: Unemployed/Teaching History/Researching History?
    You forgot "Working at McDonald's" and "getting a second Ph.D in something that actually has career options and now working on it".

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunken Valley View Post
    Does this mean we can't kill orcs and goblins at all and all the media against it is racist? Even if Sauron is leading an army or they're in the way of Xykon at the dungeon? Does this mean Roy did wrong when he slit all the throats of sleeping goblins
    Nope, it doesn't mean that at all. It just means that if we are killing them because they're orcs or goblins and everyone knows they only exist to be chunks of XP, or because the whole species deserves to die, we are engaging in a very racist rationalization of our actions.

    Good fantasy/sci-fi stories don't involve killing the orcs because they're orcs. They involve killing the orcs because the orcs are at the gates of Minas Tirith and want to brutally murder everyone inside. Thus the conflict takes on the moral significance of violence in defense of loved ones/friends/country, rather than casual racism.

    What Rich is trying to point out, I think, is that stories should, when confronted with "alien intellects vast, cool, and unsympathetic, regarding this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drawing their plans against us", draw the confrontation not around the fact that the intellects in question are alien, but around the fact that they are unsympathetic and intending to do some horrible things.

    Edit: Rich brings up another good point, from the standpoint of a D&D campaign. It is one thing to play a greedy, violent scab of a character, or even an outright villainous one who feels that slaughter and looting are perfectly acceptable ways to line their pockets. It is entirely a seperate matter to be playing a supposedly good character who does this sort of thing while insisting, as a player, that your character is doing nothing evil, because he is only beating up evil creatures.
    Last edited by Scurvy Cur; 2013-09-16 at 11:05 AM.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir_Leorik View Post
    Sauron's army did have humans. They brought the Mumakils from the south.
    Offtopic, but "mumakil" is plural. It doesn't need to be further pluralized.
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