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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    why should how i enjoy playing the game be demonized jsut because other people have a hard time seperating fact from fiction?
    Because living in a society with free expression means that other people have a right to voice their opinion, even if that opinion is that you are wrong. If you want to argue that they are incorrect, do so, but don't argue that they don't have a right to demonize whatever they want to demonize according to their own feelings on the subject. As a society, we permit people who have far more odious opinions than this one the right to express them.

    Your problem is that you not only want to play the way you want to play, you want to be insulated from anyone else saying anything that may make you feel bad about it. Well, too bad. You can have the first, but not the second.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    but what if they only say that "my character is good" based on the assumption that every goblin/orc they kill was evil and entirely deserving of being killed despite them the player not spending the time to ensure that for every single goblin/orc they kill?

    why cant they just take DnD as just a form of entertainment without spending so much time mulling over the moral implications in a made up fantasy game? as long as they dont let the ideas in the game invade in there thinkings of real life wheres the problem with turning your brain off and just enjoying playing a game?
    Because killing people on an assumption that they have probably done something to deserve it is not a good act. At best, you can say it is one of those unsavory evil things that neutral characters sometimes do.

    A good character doesn't need to verify the history of every opponent he or she faces, mind, because there are other reasons (tactical and strategic considerations, self defense, etc) for them to decide that violence is the only solution to the problem. But assuming that stuff deserves to die and then killing it with no evidence supporting your assumption is definitely not a good act, and we are wrong to try and justify it as such.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    what if the DM ensures that every goblin that the chracter the person is playing was an evil monster and deserves to be killed and the palyer jsut relys on his character knowing that without him knowing it personally?

    why am i not allowed to play a game and jsut enjoy it without spending so much time comtemplating the moral question?
    It's not a matter of "not allowed to." You are free to play whatever characters you please, and as Rich just said, you won't even get any argument here if you say, "But I like playing horrible racists." You clearly choose to debate the moral questions, and argue insupportably that horrible racists are not in fact Evil in D&D. Right here and right now.

    If your only case for your past genocidally racist characters being Good is, "But I liked the way Good looked on their character sheets better than the way Evil would have looked," and yet you're choosing to debate the matter anyway, if you want to detect my sympathy, I hope you brought your scanning electron microscope.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    This, in a nutshell.
    Yes, exactly.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    why am i not allowed to play a game and jsut enjoy it without spending so much time comtemplating the moral question?
    I don't think the word allowed means what you think it means.
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    That's good to know. I think the last paragraph of your post got away from you, then.
    Yes, the problem is what is this "non-person treatment" and when is it kosher. I could have meant that objectification of sentient creatures to have the same ethical status as dolls, but what I mean is that there is a variety of kosher treatments of nonhuman creatures in literature, sometimes meaning it is proper to treat them in alien ways. That could mean simply as strange and different beings (as in the Speaker of the Dead trilogy), it could mean as wonderful or even superior beings (as in good faeries or gods), and it could also be as deadly menaces that must be dealt with (as in various horrific creatures). Star Trek episodes contains examples of all three types. There are episodes were god-like beings bestow favors, there are aliens that learn to live with their differences, there are times when the crew is suddenly confronted by hostile threats.

    You (the Giant) actually have a problem with at least certain sorts of depictions of the latter. Treating living, thinking beings as deadly menaces, as greedy, as nasty, as sadistic, leads inevitably to the conclusion that we can kill these creatures.

    Putting aside these threatening aliens, in cases of dealing with the wonderful or the strange beings, the nonhumans are often still being treated as nonhuman. I propose that in dealing with nonhuman beings of specially nonhumanlike intelligence, there are always differences, and these can be depicted and dealt with on that basis that they are beings of different sentients in the absence of encouraging Racism or Orientalism or Colonialism.

    The question then remains about what to do when raising the possibility of the threatening kind of intelligent creature. What remains kosher, what is racist? Do we only dislike creatures that are thinly portrayed as killable just because they are ugly and happen to be located in someone's long abandoned dungeon? OR Do we feel that it is inappropriate to introduce a type of dragon that tends to be unbelievably greedy, selfish, and suspicious? Perhaps there something wrong with categorizing anything with any intelligence as having such tendencies. Or are we simply against the automatic label of every dragon as greedy because that is how they are always portrayed?

    Goblins in D&D and Tolkien (not in mythology), are basically humans with some ability score modifiers and maybe darkvision or something, and I can understand why you would say that these creatures shouldn't have an alignment tendency. I personally see no problem with goblins having one, but I agree that a usually alignment is a pretty thin justification for an automatic death sentence. I also think that goblins, by virtue of being so close to humans, are particularly well suited for a downtrodden ugly duckling treatment and its one in this particular instance I applaud.

    However, I think there are also interesting issues in dealing with the ethical ramifications of dealing with a species that tends towards evil but only as a usual tendency (not to mention figuring out what that even means; "evil" is such a vague and pejorative word). This could be fodder for a different type of game. If I recall there was a 2nd Edition sourcebook called Creative Campaigning which suggested a dilemma in which the PCs encounter the orc children after killing the adults and are thus forced to find a way to take care of the kids. The supplement, again if I recall, suggested the kids were likely to become evil when they grow up, but also mentioned they were likely to go after the PCs for what they did!

    When it comes to creatures that are magical, that come from other planes of existence, that are living embodiments of concepts, or are descendants of gods, I do not see the point in forbidding others in taking the creative license to give such creatures highly negative or positive traits as a category (with various levels of how common those traits are).

    The question I have is not, can the Giant take creatures that are historically depicted a certain way and give them a different treatment including personifying them. The question is, to what extent does the OOTS, its author, and the forumites who say they are with him on this one, are appropriately condemning the tendencies in other works of literature, not just the "turn off the brain for a few hour" type but classical works as well.
    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 The Giant View Post
    Because living in a society with free expression means that other people have a right to voice their opinion, even if that opinion is that you are wrong. If you want to argue that they are incorrect, do so, but don't argue that they don't have a right to demonize whatever they want to demonize according to their own feelings on the subject. As a society, we permit people who have far more odious opinions than this one the right to express them.

    Your problem is that you not only want to play the way you want to play, you want to be insulated from anyone else saying anything that may make you feel bad about it. Well, too bad. You can have the first, but not the second.
    I don't think the correct term is "demonize". Patricia Pulling demonized D&D players; you are criticizing a specific way that players are approaching the game. I think that's a crucial distinction (and one that I think forikroder may not recognize). Otherwise I agree with your point: Players have the right to run through dungeon crawls killing anything that moves for XP, and you are entitled to criticize them for that style of playing.

    Forikroder, no one is demonizing anyone, but if the criticism of your play style is making you feel bad, maybe the criticism is more valid than you want to acknowledge?
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Because living in a society with free expression means that other people have a right to voice their opinion, even if that opinion is that you are wrong. If you want to argue that they are incorrect, do so, but don't argue that they don't have a right to demonize whatever they want to demonize according to their own feelings on the subject. As a society, we permit people who have far more odious opinions than this one the right to express them.

    Your problem is that you not only want to play the way you want to play, you want to be insulated from anyone else saying anything that may make you feel bad about it. Well, too bad. You can have the first, but not the second.
    i understand that it is there opinion, that they think i am wrong jsut because i play DnD this way, but isnt demonizing me for playing DnD this way being just as racist as someone who kills a goblin because its a goblin saying i must be racist because i choose not to fret over morals in a fictional universe?

    just because someone plays violent games doesnt mean there going to become violent

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    When it comes to creatures that are magical, that come from other planes of existence, that are living embodiments of concepts, or are descendants of gods, I do not see the point in forbidding others in taking the creative license to give such creatures highly negative or positive traits as a category (with various levels of how common those traits are).
    I generally have a much more lenient position on explicitly magical beings like demons. Even though I still choose to treat them with human feelings and drives, I am less critical of works that don't. Simply because, as you say, there could be some utility in that, at least theoretically.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    The question I have is not, can the Giant take creatures that are historically depicted a certain way and give them a different treatment including personifying them. The question is, to what extent does the OOTS, its author, and the forumites who say they are with him on this one, are appropriately condemning the tendencies in other works of literature, not just the "turn off the brain for a few hour" type but classical works as well.
    I would say that this sort of fantasy is still a relatively recent development in terms of literature, and roleplaying games even more so...and as a result, we're at the stage where some viewpoints still need to be expressed just for the sake of getting them out there to be considered. It's too early to say, "But what effect does this expression have?" when the overwhelming tendency is still to go the other way.

    It's important to remember that OOTS exists largely as a criticism of D&D, and D&D swings 95% the other way—and is getting worse, not better. I've been looking at the 4e Monster Manual while working on the monster minis for Kickstarter, and almost every single entry starts with, "These monsters are horrible killers who rape and pillage for fun!" or some such. This is the foremost mainstream work in the field of Fantasy Roleplaying Games. No matter how many readers OOTS gets, more people will read the Monster Manual. My position, therefore, is intended as the counterpoint to the overwhelmingly prevailing view in the hobby. So I'm not trying to portray a balanced view because the view is already imbalanced. I'm trying to shift it back to the middle.
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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    i understand that it is there opinion, that they think i am wrong jsut because i play DnD this way, but isnt demonizing me for playing DnD this way being just as racist
    No. It isn't. ......
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  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    I've been looking at the 4e Monster Manual while working on the monster minis for Kickstarter, and almost every single entry starts with, "These monsters are horrible killers who rape and pillage for fun!" or some such.
    Indeed. While some of the splatbooks do paint certain monsters in a better light (usually ones that make those monsters available as PCs) - that's splatbooks, not the main book.
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  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    so your saying people who paly violent video games will inevitably become murderers?
    Wow, way to put words in people's mouths and totally miss their point in the process. What they are saying is not that people who play violent games become violent themselves. They are saying that there is a fundamental difference between engaging in violent games and saying "yeah, my character is a jerk and that's part of the fun" and engaging in them and saying "my character is a great human being because all the people he just hurt probably had it coming". In the case of the former, we acknowledge violent escapism for what it is, and acknowledge that it's fun. In the latter, we obscure the violent escapism and thereby sidestep making the very firm mental disconnect between the pixel violence and our own real morality. The former is pretty harmless. The latter suggests that we have missed a step or two in the formation of our understanding of right and wrong.

  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    just because someone plays violent games doesnt mean there going to become violent
    The only person bringing up this argument on this thread is you. No one else has said the same even by implication.

    By the same token if you are going to deny that art can shape and influence popular and individual opinion, you have about 12,000 years of human history to argue against.
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  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    i understand that it is there opinion, that they think i am wrong jsut because i play DnD this way, but isnt demonizing me for playing DnD this way being just as racist
    ...You're under the impression that "people who play genocidal 'good' racists in D&D" are a race now, Forikroder?
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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

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    Yes, the problem is what is this "non-person treatment" and when is it kosher. I could have meant that objectification of sentient creatures to have the same ethical status as dolls, but what I mean is that there is a variety of kosher treatments of nonhuman creatures in literature, sometimes meaning it is proper to treat them in alien ways. That could mean simply as strange and different beings (as in the Speaker of the Dead trilogy), it could mean as wonderful or even superior beings (as in good faeries or gods), and it could also be as deadly menaces that must be dealt with (as in various horrific creatures). Star Trek episodes contains examples of all three types. There are episodes were god-like beings bestow favors, there are aliens that learn to live with their differences, there are times when the crew is suddenly confronted by hostile threats.

    You (the Giant) actually have a problem with at least certain sorts of depictions of the latter. Treating living, thinking beings as deadly menaces, as greedy, as nasty, as sadistic, leads inevitably to the conclusion that we can kill these creatures.

    Putting aside these threatening aliens, in cases of dealing with the wonderful or the strange beings, the nonhumans are often still being treated as nonhuman. I propose that in dealing with nonhuman beings of specially nonhumanlike intelligence, there are always differences, and these can be depicted and dealt with on that basis that they are beings of different sentients in the absence of encouraging Racism or Orientalism or Colonialism.

    The question then remains about what to do when raising the possibility of the threatening kind of intelligent creature. What remains kosher, what is racist? Do we only dislike creatures that are thinly portrayed as killable just because they are ugly and happen to be located in someone's long abandoned dungeon? OR Do we feel that it is inappropriate to introduce a type of dragon that tends to be unbelievably greedy, selfish, and suspicious? Perhaps there something wrong with categorizing anything with any intelligence as having such tendencies. Or are we simply against the automatic label of every dragon as greedy because that is how they are always portrayed?

    Goblins in D&D and Tolkien (not in mythology), are basically humans with some ability score modifiers and maybe darkvision or something, and I can understand why you would say that these creatures shouldn't have an alignment tendency. I personally see no problem with goblins having one, but I agree that a usually alignment is a pretty thin justification for an automatic death sentence. I also think that goblins, by virtue of being so close to humans, are particularly well suited for a downtrodden ugly duckling treatment and its one in this particular instance I applaud.

    However, I think there are also interesting issues in dealing with the ethical ramifications of dealing with a species that tends towards evil but only as a usual tendency (not to mention figuring out what that even means; "evil" is such a vague and pejorative word). This could be fodder for a different type of game. If I recall there was a 2nd Edition sourcebook called Creative Campaigning which suggested a dilemma in which the PCs encounter the orc children after killing the adults and are thus forced to find a way to take care of the kids. The supplement, again if I recall, suggested the kids were likely to become evil when they grow up, but also mentioned they were likely to go after the PCs for what they did!

    When it comes to creatures that are magical, that come from other planes of existence, that are living embodiments of concepts, or are descendants of gods, I do not see the point in forbidding others in taking the creative license to give such creatures highly negative or positive traits as a category (with various levels of how common those traits are).

    The question I have is not, can the Giant take creatures that are historically depicted a certain way and give them a different treatment including personifying them. The question is, to what extent does the OOTS, its author, and the forumites who say they are with him on this one, are appropriately condemning the tendencies in other works of literature, not just the "turn off the brain for a few hour" type but classical works as well.
    I think it also stems from what "Usually Evil" means. Putting it in the statblock does imply that it is an inborn tendency, which I think is really just wrong (and kinda lazy writing). If you want a stronghold or even a nation of corrupt and decadent Goblins, that's fine, but then it's a matter of nurture, not nature (although the bigger the group, the less probable it is that every single member is going to be like the majority and/or leadership). And even then wickedness of the Goblins of the Iron Mountain shouldn't mean that all goblins everywhere else in the world should be regarded as naturally reflecting that same depravity. People within the setting might think so, sure, but those of us outside, creating the setting should strive to know better.

    As for the explicitly supernatural (angels, demons, the undead, the divine, etc.), I'm not sure what to think on that score, really, but it does hinge on if their supernatural nature affects their free will, and if so, to what degree. (If an angel is literally incapable of an act of Evil to the same degree that humans are incapable of stopping their own hearts as an act of will... well, what the heck does that even mean?)

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    ...You're under the impression that "people who play genocidal 'good' racists in D&D" are a race now, Forikroder?
    I usually let that pass in these debates since I know what the poster meant to type (bigoted, or prejudiced [though I reserve the right to remind the correct term on occasion ]).

    And the answer still is: No, it is not.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Watcher View Post
    As for the explicitly supernatural (angels, demons, the undead, the divine, etc.), I'm not sure what to think on that score, really, but it does hinge on if their supernatural nature affects their free will, and if so, to what degree. (If an angel is literally incapable of an act of Evil to the same degree that humans are incapable of stopping their own hearts as an act of will... well, what the heck does that even mean?)
    D&D has a long-standing tradition of "fallen angels"- so that level of "incapability of acts of Evil" doesn't seem to be standard.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Forikroder View Post
    ...but isnt demonizing me for playing DnD this way being just as racist as someone who kills a goblin because its a goblin saying i must be racist because i choose not to fret over morals in a fictional universe?
    Criticism of your choices as an individual is not racist.

    That's the key difference; believing a goblin should be killed simply for being a goblin requires denying they have the capability of individual choice. It's not like a goblin chooses to be a goblin, after all.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    One simple question. Why are goblins/orcs being hated and hunted, in your opinion?

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Indeed. While some of the splatbooks do paint certain monsters in a better light (usually ones that make those monsters available as PCs) - that's splatbooks, not the main book.
    That's usually the result of looser editorial control on less important parts of the game line, and/or freelancers who don't always toe the company line.

    I would say that the portrayal of nonhumans peaked in late 2e with Planescape, a setting almost entirely devoted to the idea that beliefs and actions were more important than where you came from. 3e mostly wiped that out, but didn't specifically tack against earlier moral complexity, and Eberron was sort of ingenious in the way it threw out all assumptions (though again, those ideas came from outside the company). 4e seemed determined to put monsters back in the place of video game bad guys to be killed for XP, with no thought given to how they may live or what role they might have in the universe beyond serving as specific tactical obstacles. It's sort of appalling, actually. And I don't have high hopes for 5e on that front, but I will wait and see before saying anything.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Porthos View Post
    The only person bringing up this argument on this thread is you. No one else has said the same even by implication.

    By the same token if you are going to deny that art can't shape and influence popular and individual opinion, you have about 12,000 years of human history to argue against.
    Spot on.

    We are right to criticize Merchant of Venice for its portrayal of Shylock, for example, because it helped to reinforce a deeply harmful and dehumanizing social prejudice that was common in western ciilization for the longest time (and is still viewed as acceptable by some people in current times). It does not matter that Shylock was a fictional character who never actually existed. A message reinforcing a stereotype was still communicated to audiences of the play which served to confirm their harmful prejudices as justified.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    D&D has a long-standing tradition of "fallen angels"- so that level of "incapability of acts of Evil" doesn't seem to be standard.
    True, but that also brings angels back down towards humans on the scale of "how alien is this being's thought process". If an angel can fall, then that means that they have free will and can choose, which in turn implies their Evil counterparts (demons and devils) can do so similarly, which starts to bring us back to "can they really be said to have an inborn alignment"?

    Like I said, I'm not sure what to think, and it does depend heavily on how much influence the supernatural part of their nature has on what they say and do and think.

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    The origin stories for various Outsiders vary a lot. Some are said to be "spawned from the plane" - effectively the plane buds a bit of its material off, which takes the form of that outsider.

    Others are made from the souls of mortals who died with the same alignment as the plane.

    What determines their starting alignment, may not preclude them having freewill and the ability to choose to change.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Outside of D&D, I would say that the idea of presenting the traditional 'monster races' as actual people has gained ground recently. But it's not like I've done research on that, so I could be off-base here. It could be I've been paying more attention lately than I used to.
    Last edited by Morty; 2013-09-16 at 12:44 PM.
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    I'm not trying to portray a balanced view because the view is already imbalanced. I'm trying to shift it back to the middle.
    Indeed, there is no need to "balance" the view in the comic, which I think is already pretty middle of the road and not heavy-handed in depiction of its creatures. The alignment tendencies of D&D exist in-comic, they're just a bit muted by a more common "human," or person, element.

    The theme of the thread was not that Alien Intelligences belongs in OOTS, I don't presume to suggest story improvements*, its that it belongs somewhere, just not everywhere.

    *More Aarindarius!
    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.
    The laws of physics are not crying in a corner, they are bawling in the forums.

    Thanks to half-halfling for the avatar

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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    The origin stories for various Outsiders vary a lot. Some are said to be "spawned from the plane" - effectively the plane buds a bit of its material off, which takes the form of that outsider.

    Others are made from the souls of mortals who died with the same alignment as the plane.

    What determines their starting alignment, may not preclude them having freewill and the ability to choose to change.
    There's also the point that published D&D is expressly not consistent on points like this, either because of multiple authors with multiple interpretations or because the game is trying to be all things to all people. A lot of things that show up in game manuals are there because they want players to have every possible option to choose from.

    Or, more cynically, if your first book tells them that all monsters are evil, later you can sell them a second book telling them how they aren't and you can play one now.
    Rich Burlew


    Also available: Good Deeds Gone Unpunished, a collection of five new stories about your favorite Azure City characters, from Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs).

  26. - Top - End - #116
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Man, this thread picked up some steam.


    The mention of "video game bad guys" reminds me of something that I think has been lost a bit in this discussion. The focus has been on the extent to which the creatures are alien, but I think that a big part of the issue isn't just the alien-ness of the creatures, but the alien-ness of killing in the D&D, and by extension OoTS universe.

    Describing whole races as having some universal moral character raises a host of moral issues, which many choose to ignore, but part of the reason they choose to ignore it is because they're in a world where the way to "advance" is, in effect, exclusively through killing (unlike in the real world) and where the repercussions of killing are, in fact, quite alien (at least for powerful beings like black dragons.

    In a sense, the more you nuance the "usually evil" races, the more you sharpen the contrast between a world where the gods are ever present and active, and where ones afterlife is as well understood as one's time on the mortal coil, and our own world.

    I've always been one of those morally conflicted D&D players, trying not to kill and finding myself in campaigns where everything was shaded, as in OoTS. But, I wonder if I underestimate the effect on morality of the metaphysics of an OoTS like universe, where death is no undiscovered country.

    Or, to put it another way. Say that you gained XP in D&D/OoTS not by killing, but by consuming the soul of the NPCs you kill. Do you think that would effect the number of people who were comfortable with treating races as "always chaotic evil?"
    Recent Ancient Attempts at homebrewing :

    Daoist(Prc), Kinderhorror (MitP:8-0), Gribble(MitP: 11-1), Shardfiend(MitP:8-0), Sun Tyrant(MitP:6-0), Sunworshiper(MitP: 3-0),Spidaren (MitP: 7-0), Movie Themed Feats

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  27. - Top - End - #117
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post

    It's important to remember that OOTS exists largely as a criticism of D&D, and D&D swings 95% the other way—and is getting worse, not better. I've been looking at the 4e Monster Manual while working on the monster minis for Kickstarter, and almost every single entry starts with, "These monsters are horrible killers who rape and pillage for fun!" or some such. This is the foremost mainstream work in the field of Fantasy Roleplaying Games. No matter how many readers OOTS gets, more people will read the Monster Manual. My position, therefore, is intended as the counterpoint to the overwhelmingly prevailing view in the hobby. So I'm not trying to portray a balanced view because the view is already imbalanced. I'm trying to shift it back to the middle.
    (emphasis mine)

    While I agree with you on mostly everything, I have to disagree with that specific point. overstating your argument to meet in the middle is a good strategy when bargaining. when arguing, sometimes it works, but sometimes it makes you seem like an extremist and will undermine your position.
    On the other hand, I don't think the oots is overstating anything. if the goblins were portraied as perfect givers of peace injustly persecuted, then it would be an unbalanced view. they aren't. their conflict with humans is portraied, I believe in a much realistic way, like many generation-long feuds, where both sides perceive they are the wronged ones, and every attack they received was totally vicious and unprovoked, while every one they launched was in response to some previous action of war. I find this view to be a very balanced one.
    And like you I'm also quite bugged with the
    "These monsters are horrible killers who rape and pillage for fun!"
    lines; as I said, it's not as much racism as sloppy characterization and worldbuilding to me. If they really want to say "it's ok to kill these creatures just for their looks" they could at least be creative about it. there are many ways that could be done that would make it acceptable enough. For exammple saying that those creatures have a long standing hatred with humans, and since your character is human, he's expected to side with his kin and kill those monsters simply because they are the enemy in a war...
    Last edited by King of Nowere; 2013-09-16 at 12:51 PM.
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  28. - Top - End - #118
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    Indeed, there is no need to "balance" the view in the comic, which I think is already pretty middle of the road and not heavy-handed in depiction of its creatures. The alignment tendencies of D&D exist in-comic, they're just a bit muted by a more common "human," or person, element.

    The theme of the thread was not that Alien Intelligences belongs in OOTS, I don't presume to suggest story improvements*, its that it belongs somewhere, just not everywhere.

    *More Aarindarius!
    And on this last point I would agree. In circumstances where the purpose of the story is to demonstrate people overcoming some sort of explicit threat to their existence, it can often serve to have that threat be alien and implacable. But the focus of the story then lies on the danger posed by this threat, and the hero or heroes working to end the threat are doing so for virtuous reasons such as to forestall the death and suffering of thousands of people.

    The problem comes up when the story moves from being an examination of the virtuous reasons the heroes are facing danger to being an fun and frolicsome romp through a host of things-which-look-different-from-us for murder and profit and then tells us that the protagonists are behaving heroically.

    And that last becomes an issue in D&D a lot.

  29. - Top - End - #119
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowere View Post
    (emphasis mine)

    While I agree with you on mostly everything, I have to disagree with that specific point. overstating your argument to meet in the middle is a good strategy when bargaining. when arguing, sometimes it works, but sometimes it makes you seem like an extremist and will undermine your position.
    On the other hand, I don't think the oots is overstating anything. if the goblins were portraied as perfect givers of peace injustly persecuted, then it would be an unbalanced view. they aren't. their conflict with humans is portraied, I believe in a much realistic way, like many generation-long feuds...
    Recall the "middle-ground" we are speaking about here is between "having human motivations and reasons for actions" and "their evil just because, roll initiative." The middle-ground is actually about portraying the goblins as having inhuman motivations and characteristics.

    Edit: I claim OOTS qualifies due to the fact that alignment tendencies seem to appear in comic, if muted. OOTS has gone the anthropomorphic path to the hilt, even in regards to its Outsiders.
    Last edited by Reddish Mage; 2013-09-16 at 01:09 PM.
    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.
    The laws of physics are not crying in a corner, they are bawling in the forums.

    Thanks to half-halfling for the avatar

  30. - Top - End - #120
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    Default Re: The literary merits of Alien Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowere View Post
    And like you I'm also quite bugged with the lines; as I said, it's not as much racism as sloppy characterization and worldbuilding to me. If they really want to say "it's ok to kill these creatures just for their looks" they could at least be creative about it.
    Well, yes, that too. One monster that just wants to murder everyone so you might as well kill them first is a creative decision; a book full of them is an attempt at dodging the issue.

    That said, I think there is more of a problem with players taking that book and then using it as the justification for an unfortunate moral stance than there is with the fact that the book skews that way in the first place. Wizards clearly doesn't want to have that conversation and puts out products that reflect that, which is their right. We, as players, are responsible for our own use of those products, and perhaps whether we want to support Wizards.

    I would love to see some thought and balance go into the 5e position on nonhuman creatures, but I've been party to the company thought process in the past and I do not expect to see it. So I choose to focus on the public.
    Rich Burlew


    Also available: Good Deeds Gone Unpunished, a collection of five new stories about your favorite Azure City characters, from Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs).

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