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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Morally gray quests

    I'm setting up a short campaign to go from lvl 1 to lvl 5. (dnd 5e) I have encounters and NPCs set, but as I played Witcher a bit, I'd like to rework the thing a bit and introduce some morally gray quests. Short things, like "Mill is crucial for village, but dam has cut off water from kobold village ..." Thing is I'm not very good at coming up with this material. If anyone has any ideas, can you guys drop them in a form of sentence of two?

    thanks

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Are there any paladins or other alignment-based classes in the party?

    Do you want your players to spend hours arguing how to approach a gray situation?
    Last edited by goto124; 2016-01-19 at 08:14 AM.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Give every NPC a realistic reason for doing what they are doing. Suddenly that Orc raiding party is less a bunch of dehumanized pure evil monsters and more of desperate violent humanoids. This will not remove all the black and white from your campaign overnight but will render most of your quests shades of gray (Billy Joel) by default.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Better yet, don't intentionally aim for moral grayness. Just build realistic and believable characters, societies, situations.

    Wouldn't be nice if a 'gray' situation came up, the players suggest a solution that realistically should work, only for the solution to get shut down to keep the situation 'gray'.
    Last edited by goto124; 2016-01-19 at 08:15 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Best way to do morally grey quests is to set up the monster races as deserving of empathy.

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Joe is a human whose father was a merchant. As a child, they traveled the world, until Joe was about 8 years old and they arrived in Dwarfland (or whatever) at which point his father fell ill and died. Joe was left alone, with a tidy sum of gold, but otherwise vulnerable in a strange city with few humans to look out for him.

    Lloyd, Dwarven industrialist, took pity upon Joe and took him under his wing, teaching him the ways of the Dwarven and inadvertently divulging the secrets of Dwarven technology (metallurgy, golemcraft, I dunno. Your world. Pick what dwarves would want to keep secret from other races) to him, believing that Joe was a good kid who would side with the Dwarves always.

    Being an ambitious human and not a traditionalist dwarf, Joe left Dwarfland when he was older to go make a fortune selling secret dwarven technology to humans. He becomes a corporate baron/rich enough to be considered a noble/whatever. As a result of allowing secrets that were kept for generations out to the humans, Lloyd was exiled from his clan.

    Being that exile is the worst fate that can befall a dwarf - worse than death - Lloyd makes it his mission to execute Joe, in the deluded logic that it would restore his honor and his place in his clan. Of course, killing Joe wouldn't un-reveal the dwarven secrets, but that's subtext.

    No one is really right in that situation, but no one is truly wrong either. Gives your players the opportunity to decide who they would want to side with. You could even make it a multi-part questline. Joe might still be with the dwarves when the PCs encounter him, he would half-truthfully say that he's being held against his will and needs their help to escape. A few months later, Joe Incorporated is suddenly making a hundred thousand gold a month selling household golems to everyone in Humantown. Dwarves catch wind and exile Lloyd, he runs into the party, etc.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    The tricky thing with morally gray quests is to make the deadlock believable. Lets take the two-villages example above. There are two villages in the area that both need water. There is one river, and it can only be diverted in one of two ways, so only one village can get the water. That sounds like a deadlock at construction, but the solution which doesn't require killing an entire village either literally or by starving it of a necessary resource is to merge the two settlements and share the water, or move one of the villages to the opposite banks, or things like that.

    So if that solution comes up, and one of the villages says 'no, we couldn't possibly live with X', it's no longer morally gray - one side has identified themselves as unreasonable. If both sides say 'no, we couldn't possibly live with X' its still neutral, but now there really isn't any impetus to help either side, because it has become a manufactured problem.

    There will often be these kinds of compromise solutions. To make it convincing, you have to figure out situations where the compromise is going to obviously not be reasonable from the beginning, so that refusing the compromise doesn't make one side the obvious bad guy.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    If you want this kind of quest, you need to start from the basis that everyone is people (except animals). That Kobold village? They need to just be a village of people with no particular antagonism with the human village next door, because there needs to be a reason why people don't just go "meh, it's only Kobolds".

    Then they all need reasonable reasons to come into conflict, a limited resource they can't all use because there isn't enough is the ur example because, well, it's been the driver for a vast amount of conflict throughout history and is easily graspable.

    It's not just something you can plug in to any old campaign setting though, it works in The Witcher because everyone in The Witcher is people, (Read the Sword of Destiny short story collection for some great examples*, it's repeatedly pointed out that a Witcher doesn't hunt anything intelligent, because they're not monsters, they're just people you happen not to like.) it's baked right into the setting.

    The setting needs to be constructed from the ground up to look like a setting where everyone is people, with the kind of social structures, trade, and integration you'd expect from that. (Maybe the pcs were sent by the local lord because both the human and kobold villages are in his land and he just wants all his subjects sorted out without them fighting, breaking things, ruining crops, and reducing his tax revenue)



    *The first story with the dragon and the one with the doppelganger. The latter is, I think, my favourite Witcher story.

  9. - Top - End - #9
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The tricky thing with morally gray quests is to make the deadlock believable. Lets take the two-villages example above. There are two villages in the area that both need water. There is one river, and it can only be diverted in one of two ways, so only one village can get the water. That sounds like a deadlock at construction, but the solution which doesn't require killing an entire village either literally or by starving it of a necessary resource is to merge the two settlements and share the water, or move one of the villages to the opposite banks, or things like that.

    So if that solution comes up, and one of the villages says 'no, we couldn't possibly live with X', it's no longer morally gray - one side has identified themselves as unreasonable. If both sides say 'no, we couldn't possibly live with X' its still neutral, but now there really isn't any impetus to help either side, because it has become a manufactured problem.

    There will often be these kinds of compromise solutions. To make it convincing, you have to figure out situations where the compromise is going to obviously not be reasonable from the beginning, so that refusing the compromise doesn't make one side the obvious bad guy.
    I don't think a deadlock is necessary for a morally gray quest provided a perfect solution does not exist. Often compromises are imperfect solutions even in cases where they are better than the alternative solutions.

    Example: There are the same 2 villages and the same river. Each village has a meager alternative source of water that is insufficient to sustain their entire population. Likewise the river is insufficient to sustain both populations. This problem has 3 obvious solutions (and uncountable ones that I missed)
    1) Divert the river to either village
    (most saved but high inequality)
    2) Divert the river to either village and merge the populations
    (medium amount saved, slightly favors one side, side effects based upon interactions between the populations)
    3) Merge both populations at a new village next to the river
    (least saved, most equal solution, side effects based upon interactions between the populations)

    Even without a deadlock, none of the 3 obvious solutions is pure.

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    The river thing is one of the storylines in a Game of Thrones comic.

    Spoiler: Dunk & Egg spoilers
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    The two main characters arrive at some lowly lords land, his lands are dying cuz his river has been diverted. He's doesn't actually know what's going on cuz I guess in those months he hasn't thought to send anyone. Ser Duncan goes to investigate and see's the river has been diverted. Some stuff happens, Duncan sleeps with the lady of the other land (whose husband has recently died) then there's like about to be a battle but it turns out the lady is expected to marry and she's got all these suitors harassing her. She ends up marrying the lord of the other land and they merge their lands. Everyone is happy


    Anyway, is two sides having a dispute over resources really "grey"? There's certainly morality involved but it's pretty clear that the kindergarten teacher in all of us would see the best solution as "learn to share". Contrast that to the Witcher, where

    Spoiler: Witcher 3
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    You have to choose between saving a group of orphans, sacrificing an entire village in the process & freeing an ambiguously ancient evil... or you can side with the clearly evil, creepy as hell witches that end up eating the children and were going to kill your daughter. And all of that has the sanity/humanity of an old lady hanging in the balance, with the guy who gave you the quest potentially committing suicide if you mess up


    There's no happy ending in that storyline, and they don't broadcast any of the outcomes ahead of time. You just have to choose what you think sucks least and hope for the best.

  11. - Top - End - #11
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by Douche View Post
    Anyway, is two sides having a dispute over resources really "grey"? There's certainly morality involved but it's pretty clear that the kindergarten teacher in all of us would see the best solution as "learn to share". Contrast that to the Witcher, where

    Spoiler: Witcher 3
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    You have to choose between saving a group of orphans, sacrificing an entire village in the process & freeing an ambiguously ancient evil... or you can side with the clearly evil, creepy as hell witches that end up eating the children and were going to kill your daughter. And all of that has the sanity/humanity of an old lady hanging in the balance, with the guy who gave you the quest potentially committing suicide if you mess up


    There's no happy ending in that storyline, and they don't broadcast any of the outcomes ahead of time. You just have to choose what you think sucks least and hope for the best.
    Limited resources/scarcity always throws a wrench in the utopian concept of sharing. See my 3 sharing solutions for examples of the various imperfections that arise. The "gray" is the result of the difficulty in selecting which solution as a result of the morally relevant details not clumping nicely into a strictly superior option.

    This is not to detract from the moral dilemma example from Witcher 3, although one needs to realize that moral dilemmas are merely a subset of grey situations. Moral dilemmas often have a flaw in their construction that requires limiting the available option further than verisimilitude would call for. (lacking context examples: forcing the witches to cooperate with your means or defeat the ancient evil) The broader category of grey situations avoids this flaw by utilizing the messy nature of reality rather than trying to test isolated moral variables. (decently written but still flawed moral dilemmas tend to remain grey when other options are permitted to be explored)
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2016-01-19 at 11:03 AM.

  12. - Top - End - #12
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    Limited resources/scarcity always throws a wrench in the utopian concept of sharing. See my 3 sharing solutions for examples of the various imperfections that arise. The "gray" is the result of the difficulty in selecting which solution as a result of the morally relevant details not clumping nicely into a strictly superior option.

    This is not to detract from the moral dilemma example from Witcher 3, although one needs to realize that moral dilemmas are merely a subset of grey situations. Moral dilemmas often have a flaw in their construction that requires limiting the available option further than verisimilitude would call for. (lacking context examples: forcing the witches to cooperate with your means or defeat the ancient evil) The broader category of grey situations avoids this flaw by utilizing the messy nature of reality rather than trying to test isolated moral variables. (decently written but still flawed moral dilemmas tend to remain grey when other options are permitted to be explored)
    Well here's the thing about the river... Why would two villages be located so close together and not be part of the same community? Why are they both located in such close proximity to this tiny trickle of water that can barely sustain one village? If resources are scarce, then two villages would never have realistically spawned there.

    When you take it to a larger scale, like nations disputing over oceans or mountains, they're just going to use military strength. Might makes right. Like, America claims to own the Alaskan sea, but we have like 2 destroyers there. China and Russia have like 20 each. We basically have no military presence there. They can do whatever they want, not because of actual violence but because they have a stronger presence.

    So really, what place does a group of 4-5 adventurers have when it comes to deciding who gets to claim the river? Whoever lives upriver owns it. If the village downriver has the strength to claim it, then they can do so... So I suppose it's grey in the sense that there's really no good or evil involved.. But at the same time, I wouldn't consider it grey because there is no good and evil in the equation. It's more like.. brown?

    In my opinion, a good "morally grey" scenario would have both parties have good and evil aspects. There would be something for the player to gain by helping either side, but also something off about them that makes them question whether they should work with this guy... Like one of the PCs die, and they absolutely must be resurrected. The only person capable of a resurrection is a local necromancer - but in exchange he demands, i dunno, a vial of orphan tears.
    Last edited by Douche; 2016-01-19 at 11:37 AM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by Douche View Post
    Well here's the thing about the river... Why would two villages be located so close together and not be part of the same community? Why are they both located in such close proximity to this tiny trickle of water that can barely sustain one village? If resources are scarce, then two villages would never have realistically spawned there.
    Scarcity exists ubiquitous throughout real life to the point that one would need to explain a lack of scarcity. Sudden scarcity is less common but common enough to have specific words like drought or famine.

    Social divisions also exist everywhere in real life, although not to such a point that they don't each have individual explanations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Douche View Post
    In my opinion, a good "morally grey" scenario would have both parties have good and evil aspects. There would be something for the player to gain by helping either side, but also something off about them that makes them question whether they should work with this guy... Like one of the PCs die, and they absolutely must be resurrected. The only person capable of a resurrection is a local necromancer - but in exchange he demands, i dunno, a vial of orphan tears.
    That example makes me think that you personally set a high bar for details to pass from amoral to either moral or immoral. If that is the case then it makes sense that what I have been describing would seem amoral rather than morally grey.

    Test example:
    You are out hiking with your mother when a rockslide traps your mother's leg under a rock too heavy for you to lift alone. A passing stranger is willing to move the rock but only if you first give your mother a paper cut.

    Now don't answer immediately, I left it with a fairly clear answer. Instead examine the paper cut. It is obviously negligible compared to whatever damage the rock on her leg is doing. However is it non zero or is inflicting paper cuts on others a zero/morally irrelevant/amoral act?

    Now bare with me on mild variations of grey. In my 3 solutions to the river problem there were 2 morally relevant details I want to highlight: Lives and Fairness. The least fair solution saved the most lives by just choosing a village while the most fair solution saved the least lives by having everyone resettle at the river. In choosing between these 3 solutions one was weighting the marginal morality of each life saved vs the marginal immorality of the inequality cost incurred for that additional life saved.

    Sure one can make stark contrasts between a resurrection and causing suffering on orphans, but don't discount the little things.

    Sidenote: The resurrection in exchange for orphan tears example is not a great example since it has an obvious answer of either forgoing the resurrection (personal benefit in exchange from inflicting suffering is not grey) or accepting the charity of the orphans (tears given freely is not suffering).
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2016-01-19 at 12:36 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    By making the river also a small source of water, you're stabilizing the deadlock so that its actually a reasonable action for either group to refuse compromise. It's a bit forced, mostly because 'river' implies quite a lot of water, but it has the necessary structure. That's essentially what my point was - you have to be careful to make sure that if you have a moral conflict surrounding the deadlock, the deadlock must be sufficiently stable or it will just collapse and make one or both sides look like they've got a self-inflicted problem.

  15. - Top - End - #15
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    I really wouldn't try too hard. Just make both sides of a conflict reasonable, make at least one side want the adventurers to help them 'win', and morally grey things result. If you try too hard - it just feels awkward.

    Spoiler: Witcher 3 spoiler
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    Even The Witcher 3 thing with the orphans seemed a bit forced, though still interesting. Why couldn't he have led the orphans away himself? Or gotten Johnny to do it? It was pretty obvious they were going to be eaten.


    Even in a game as grey as The Witcher 3, many of the quests were pretty black & white. (Go kill the creepy necrophage that eats children etc.) Mostly the grey was just people doing bad things for reasons other than "Bwhahaha - I like being evil and no one can stop me!!!". And things like how there were some pretty decent guys in The Church of the Eternal Fire, but much of it was corrupt.

    Spoiler: Witcher 3 spoiler
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    The whole Bloody Baron thing was interesting... but he still beat his wife... and she still killed their kid. I sort of felt that they deserved each-other.
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2016-01-19 at 11:49 PM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    A lot of times, Geralt's monster slaying in The Witcher is equated to a moral judgment.

    Here's a hypothetical quest:

    Bill drowns his wife in a river by the village. Unbeknownst to Bill or any of the villagers, Bill's wife comes back as some kind of ghost and, blinded by rage at her death, lashes out randomly against anyone coming close to the river where she died. After enough people are found murdered by the river, the villagers stop going there to get water or fish or whatever other resources the river provides.

    The PC's roll around to the village, and find the villagers desperate for anyone to get rid of the river ghost. Eventually, they piece together the origins of the ghost. Now, the party can simply fight the ghost and destroy her, but the ghost is strong and dangerous. Alternately, the party can attempt to assuage the ghost's rage by getting Bill to apologize to her and beg her forgiveness - the ghost may either forgive/spare him or kill him, but either way, that will likely cause the ghost to leave.

    On Bill's part, he would be extremely reluctant to go possibly sacrifice his life for the good of the village. But maybe he isn't as loathesome a person as he used to be. Maybe he really turned his life around since he's committed the murder and has become an upstanding member of society. He argues that the PCs should give him another chance, if at least to pay society back for his crime.

    Thus, the PCs' role in the quest more than just casting judgment on one morally grey NPC. Symbolically, they are determining whether a crime can be paid for by good deeds, or blood must pay for blood.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Ooooh, I like the river ghost story! I personally would try to convince Bill to follow the party to the river and convince the ghost to stop, promising him that the party will protect him.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    At this point, the ghost asks The party to cut off Bill's hands that drowned her and throw them in the river, just to show Bill means his apology.

    Or something like that. Try to force your players to really choose, at some point.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Segev's Avatar

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    This one's more than a bit contrived, but imagine a setting wherein the last surviving elven city manages to survive because of the magical radiation of a powerful artifact. Without it, their people will go sterile and their city wither away and die.

    However, a dreadful plague is sweeping through the dwarven kingdoms, and only forging this artifact into a mill to pump now-enchanted water throughout the land will allow enough of the cure to grow to save the dwarven people.

    The dwarves and elves are ready to go to war over this, and the dwarves (because this is D&D and fetch quests are a thing) ask the PCs to try to retrieve the artifact for them to prevent the need for a full-on war.

    Do your PCs, upon learning the importance of the artifact to the elven people, take it anyway and doom them, or do they refuse, dooming the dwarves?



    Heck, a classic example is the sacrifice story: A sweet and innocent child or maiden is the destined sacrifice required to keep an ancient doom from descending upon a nation or world. Do you sacrifice the kid for the world's sake, or do you let the world be destroyed? The kid doesn't want to die, but it is quite possible she's doomed either way. But even if she is...do YOU sacrifice her?

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    So here is something I had my players encounter not too long ago; they came across a kind of plantation and small village to go with it. Turns out that the farmers themselves do not run the fields, they actually use zombies that work continuously in the fields, though the farmers refer to it more as a kind of indentured servitude.

    All of the zombies are from people who freely signed a contract before death to give their body over in exchange for payment to their family, or anywhere else they want. These proceedings themselves are overseen by the magistrate and clerical leaders in the closest city. Leaders in local churches allow it to continue even though they hate the idea of it because they feel a greater good is served (they are the ones who demanded the proceedings in the city to vet the contracts and the people signing them).

    However, there is no denying the inherent evil (at least in D&D terms) behind the zombies. The Paladin's spidey sense tingles pretty bad, all wildlife stays away, the magics and process being used to reanimate the bodies, etc.

    Along come a group of clerics and paladins who feel that this should not be allowed to continue at all, and have been raiding the plantation. They are not torching the fields or harming people, only destroying zombies when they can. If they were able to destroy all the zombies and force the farmers to work the fields themselves, the plantation/village would hardly suffer, merely become less prosperous as they would have to downsize the fields. And anyone they sell to would have other options for goods if their needs could still not be met.

    Primary dilemma for the players: help the plantation or help the raider clerics/paladins?

  21. - Top - End - #21
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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by Dhuraal View Post
    Primary dilemma for the players: help the plantation or help the raider clerics/paladins?
    One of the troubles with a lot of mechanics-induced "moral dilemmas" is that the mechanics TELL us that both sides are Evil, but they don't SHOW the Evil of one side. In this case, we're TOLD that skeletons and zombies are a terrible evil that must not be promulgated, but nothing about the nature of the spell really seems to cause, well, evil to befall anybody.

    For this to have the gut-wrenching impact you want from a moral dilemma, both "gray" choices have to cause appreciable harm in some fashion.

    If, for instance, it were revealed that skeletons and zombies trap the souls of the former owners of the corpses inside, as slaves who feel the pains of the body as it decays away and is beaten up, but unable to so much as indicate their presence within, then suddenly the practice takes on a horrific element of slavery and torture. Of course, that leans it pretty sharply the other way: slavery-based economies suffering from the loss of the slaves doesn't justify the slavery.

    Balancing the harm that qualifies animated dead for the "Evil" tag with the harm caused by denying the farmers their laborforce is hard. Get it wrong, and there's a clear right answer.

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dhuraal View Post
    So here is something I had my players encounter not too long ago; they came across a kind of plantation and small village to go with it. Turns out that the farmers themselves do not run the fields, they actually use zombies that work continuously in the fields, though the farmers refer to it more as a kind of indentured servitude.

    All of the zombies are from people who freely signed a contract before death to give their body over in exchange for payment to their family, or anywhere else they want. These proceedings themselves are overseen by the magistrate and clerical leaders in the closest city. Leaders in local churches allow it to continue even though they hate the idea of it because they feel a greater good is served (they are the ones who demanded the proceedings in the city to vet the contracts and the people signing them).

    However, there is no denying the inherent evil (at least in D&D terms) behind the zombies. The Paladin's spidey sense tingles pretty bad, all wildlife stays away, the magics and process being used to reanimate the bodies, etc.

    Along come a group of clerics and paladins who feel that this should not be allowed to continue at all, and have been raiding the plantation. They are not torching the fields or harming people, only destroying zombies when they can. If they were able to destroy all the zombies and force the farmers to work the fields themselves, the plantation/village would hardly suffer, merely become less prosperous as they would have to downsize the fields. And anyone they sell to would have other options for goods if their needs could still not be met.

    Primary dilemma for the players: help the plantation or help the raider clerics/paladins?
    Depends... are the former souls of the zombies suffering from infinite pain, powerless to do anything while they are used as puppets? Or is the zombie just a lifeless husk being supernaturally animated, with no connection to it's former life?

    Do the zombie farmers somehow ambiguously taint the food, like GMOs? Is this an allegory for Monsanto?

    Or are the zealots just obsessed with maintaining the status quo cuz they're afraid of progress, while the zombies are clearly a superior form of agriculture?

    I actually like this scenario. Lots of different questions and perspectives to consider. Although at first glance, I want to say that the paladins are just being needlessly zombie-phobic

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    This one's more than a bit contrived, but imagine a setting wherein the last surviving elven city manages to survive because of the magical radiation of a powerful artifact. Without it, their people will go sterile and their city wither away and die.

    However, a dreadful plague is sweeping through the dwarven kingdoms, and only forging this artifact into a mill to pump now-enchanted water throughout the land will allow enough of the cure to grow to save the dwarven people.

    The dwarves and elves are ready to go to war over this, and the dwarves (because this is D&D and fetch quests are a thing) ask the PCs to try to retrieve the artifact for them to prevent the need for a full-on war.

    Do your PCs, upon learning the importance of the artifact to the elven people, take it anyway and doom them, or do they refuse, dooming the dwarves?
    Yeah - you're right. That feels pretty contrived. WHY is there no other way? Where did the magical evil disease come from? (Beyond a DM need to force a catch-22.) Why can't they make another magical whatsit?



    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Heck, a classic example is the sacrifice story: A sweet and innocent child or maiden is the destined sacrifice required to keep an ancient doom from descending upon a nation or world. Do you sacrifice the kid for the world's sake, or do you let the world be destroyed? The kid doesn't want to die, but it is quite possible she's doomed either way. But even if she is...do YOU sacrifice her?
    So... the classic 'hose the paladin' dilemma? WHY are they the only way to keep the doom away? You can't sacrifice a serial killer instead? Frankly - that sounds like classic villain propaganda rather than a real need. (I totally need to have Prima Nocta - or the boogeyman will get you!)

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by Douche View Post
    Depends... are the former souls of the zombies suffering from infinite pain, powerless to do anything while they are used as puppets? Or is the zombie just a lifeless husk being supernaturally animated, with no connection to it's former life?

    Do the zombie farmers somehow ambiguously taint the food, like GMOs? Is this an allegory for Monsanto?

    Or are the zealots just obsessed with maintaining the status quo cuz they're afraid of progress, while the zombies are clearly a superior form of agriculture?

    I actually like this scenario. Lots of different questions and perspectives to consider. Although at first glance, I want to say that the paladins are just being needlessly zombie-phobic
    That's an answer which would vary with the fundamental laws of the world. If the [evil] aspect of undead is some sort of fundamental thing where their evil slowly seeps out from them - infecting the land & people around them... then it's bad and needs to be stopped. (Maybe the village has a much higher murder rate than normal. Even possibly killing people early to raise them as workers.)

    If the zombies are just creepy automatons - then it's fine. (That doesn't really seem to be the default D&D assumption though. Do zombies never break away and start eating innocents?)

    Note: Killing people for their skeletons was actually an issue in India at one point when they used to be the #1 supplier of them for med-schools etc. That's why it's illegal for people in India to export skeletons.
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2016-01-20 at 11:28 AM.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by Douche View Post
    Although at first glance, I want to say that the paladins are just being needlessly zombie-phobic
    This has to be the first time that has ever been said, haha

    Also, you and Segev do make a good point about there not seeming to be anything evil other than that it 'is' evil. I did not elaborate on that as, while the party was talking to everyone else to figure out what they should do (obviously all that info was only gained bit by bit), they never actually went to talk to the person who creates the zombies. And I know at least one of them has an account on here, so it will remain a mystery for now.

    Oh, also, on the surface, and my original intent was that the clerics and paladins would be so firm in their belief was that the only way to stop them was through to the death combat, adding in the wrinkle that stopping them would mean killing good people only trying to do what they thought was right. The party managed to come up with an idea out of left field from a completely different ball park than I was thinking, and found an alternative, as PCs are want to do.
    Last edited by Dhuraal; 2016-01-20 at 11:52 AM.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    That's an answer which would vary with the fundamental laws of the world. If the [evil] aspect of undead is some sort of fundamental thing where their evil slowly seeps out from them - infecting the land & people around them... then it's bad and needs to be stopped. (Maybe the village has a much higher murder rate than normal. Even possibly killing people early to raise them as workers.)

    If the zombies are just creepy automatons - then it's fine. (That doesn't really seem to be the default D&D assumption though. Do zombies never break away and start eating innocents?)

    Note: Killing people for their skeletons was actually an issue in India at one point when they used to be the #1 supplier of them for med-schools etc. That's why it's illegal for people in India to export skeletons.
    As far as the party is aware they are just mindless automatons, I had them be created by a Druid and with what they were told, it kind of has a Native American flair of not wasting any part of the body that may be useful, even if that body was a humanoid. Though as I said in my above post, that was all hear say to them as they never went and actually talked to the guy. So I am saving those plot threads i my back pocket for later

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Great work. With some modification and thinking I came to this:

    NPC drowned his wife at village pier, thus spawning her and several ghosts that attack all who approach the pier. Villagers ask PCs for help, but malevolent spirit shares its tale. It turns out her sweet husband is in fact a sweet and caring guy, but has occasional bouts of insanity. He wants to hang himself for doing this.

    Miner village will sacrfice a child to local monsters who protect the village and enable mining to take place. Many families depend on mining, but childs' brother has sent for help of PCs.

    Evil cleric is preaching in a village. He did no harm, but has already turned some villagers to his faith. He also cured some of them and has supposedly brought a fruitful fall.

    Mining village under siege by the druids. Opened dig has already consumed holy tree and threatens another holy site.

    Villagers have turned into moose-lycantropes. PCs must discover a harmless alcimist who is looking for a potion to change his best friend albino moos into a sentient creature, but has dumped alchemic waste into a stream that villagers drink from. Afterwords villagers want to lynch the guy.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinjata View Post
    Villagers have turned into moose-lycantropes. PCs must discover a harmless alcimist who is looking for a potion to change his best friend albino moos into a sentient creature, but has dumped alchemic waste into a stream that villagers drink from. Afterwords villagers want to lynch the guy.
    This has to be the greatest plot-hook ever!
    See my Extended Signature for my list of silly shenanigans.

    Anyone is welcome to use or critique my 3.5 Fighter homebrew: The Vanguard.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by illyahr View Post
    This has to be the greatest plot-hook ever!
    Mynd you, moose bites Kan be pretti nasti...

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Morally gray quests

    Quote Originally Posted by Dhuraal View Post
    Mynd you, moose bites Kan be pretti nasti...
    Ja, a moos bit my sister once
    See my Extended Signature for my list of silly shenanigans.

    Anyone is welcome to use or critique my 3.5 Fighter homebrew: The Vanguard.

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