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  1. - Top - End - #151
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    (This came up in one of those "is it fair to set Paladins up to fail" discussions.)
    And I'm sure people had all sorts of opinions on both sides of the argument.

    For me it would depend on all sorts of factors relating to how things were handled before and after the event.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    The MM does say that not every "Always Evil" creature is in fact Evil - that they are capable of changing alignment.

    In the section for each Alignment subtype, it says that the creature's "actual" alignment does not have to match it.
    Yeah, that was an oversight. Could go with something like Kaorti victims who have been restored to their original personalities via e.g. Programmed Amnesia or other methods, and perhaps have even received Atonement. They could therefore be the requisite Good aligned [Evil] Outsiders for this construction.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Yeah, that was an oversight. Could go with something like Kaorti victims who have been restored to their original personalities via e.g. Programmed Amnesia or other methods, and perhaps have even received Atonement. They could therefore be the requisite Good aligned [Evil] Outsiders for this construction.
    D&D doesn't go into it, much, but I've always been fascinated by what it actually would mean to have your physical substance be made of [Alignment]. Which is more or less what the subtypes mean. I suspect that there's a certain amount of need to maintain alignment for physical health. Whether it's more akin to needing to live in a certain temperature range to avoid freezing/heat stroke, or needing food to replenish the body, or needing air to breathe, or having psychological needs on Maslow's Hierarchy be more basically physical for you, I personally imagine that a Fiend with [Evil] as a subtype that never acted on that alignment and actively fought against it would be physically ill, at a minimum the way somebody with a severe vitamin deficiency tends to get.

    I am told that at least Planescape:Torment makes a claim that beings whose alignments don't match their [Alignment] subtype are functionally insane.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I am told that at least Planescape:Torment makes a claim that beings whose alignments don't match their [Alignment] subtype are functionally insane.
    I don't recall Nordom the CN modron, and Fall-From-Grace, the LN (with good tendencies) succubus ever being specifically called out as mad - just unusual.

    However, while I've read lots of things about it, I haven't played the game itself.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    There are a number of [Good] spells and magic items, not all of which are unusable by evil characters. While your "good" villain would fall very quickly, it is possible to hve an Evil villain who bludgeons people to death with weaponized pure goodness.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    There are a number of [Good] spells and magic items, not all of which are unusable by evil characters. While your "good" villain would fall very quickly, it is possible to hve an Evil villain who bludgeons people to death with weaponized pure goodness.
    This could have interesting implications. What happens to D&D cosmology when someone Evil is weaponizing Good against innocents? That itself could easily be part of the villain's goal.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    This could have interesting implications. What happens to D&D cosmology when someone Evil is weaponizing Good against innocents? That itself could easily be part of the villain's goal.
    The very fact that such a thing can even be a possibility should illustrate just how bonkers it is have "Good" and "Evil" as "cosmic forces" that can be tapped and manipulated like electricity, etc.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The very fact that such a thing can even be a possibility should illustrate just how bonkers it is have "Good" and "Evil" as "cosmic forces" that can be tapped and manipulated like electricity, etc.
    It's really only a problem if you actively dislike the concept. Just because it's crazy doesn't mean it can't be fun. But I'm not going to try and convince anyone they should go along with any settings weird cosmology. It's ultimately up to each table to decide how they want to handle it (though they should understand the expectations of the system and players who come to their table having played or read of it elsewhere).
    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    D&D doesn't go into it, much, but I've always been fascinated by what it actually would mean to have your physical substance be made of [Alignment]. Which is more or less what the subtypes mean. I suspect that there's a certain amount of need to maintain alignment for physical health. Whether it's more akin to needing to live in a certain temperature range to avoid freezing/heat stroke, or needing food to replenish the body, or needing air to breathe, or having psychological needs on Maslow's Hierarchy be more basically physical for you, I personally imagine that a Fiend with [Evil] as a subtype that never acted on that alignment and actively fought against it would be physically ill, at a minimum the way somebody with a severe vitamin deficiency tends to get.

    I am told that at least Planescape:Torment makes a claim that beings whose alignments don't match their [Alignment] subtype are functionally insane.
    Planescape is really a setting that deconstructs the idea of alignment, or at least shows a subset of the outer planar cohort who have risen above it as being civilized or superior to the infinite hordes of prototypical outsiders. Sigil has more alignment exceptions in it than alignment prototypes - arms-dealing angels who perpetuate the Blood War for the good of the heavens, the Friendly Fiend as a helpful arcanoloth shopkeeper, Baatezu who channel their evil impulses into providing SM services to Senates, modrons that have escaped the hierarchy, Slaadi innkeepers who limit their chaos to butlerish affectations, etc. Not to mention you've got gods whose realms are in the wrong planes for their alignment because it matches their mythology (meaning 'where you end up' gets a lot more complicated in a setting that has taken Planescape to heart), and Planescape does a fair job of ensuring that even the Upper Planes have their fair share of secrets, troubles, and dangers. If you go to heaven in Planescape, that's no guarantee that the angel in charge won't make a deal to use your layer to host the training of a planetary pacification force that's so much less good than it claims that your layer falls to the next plane down.

    So basically, Planescape is what you get when a bunch of designers build setting around 'yeah, alignment is a bit of a farce innit?' while acknowledging that farce or not, it's backed by some large cosmic forces that have quite a lot of sway. Sigil can get away with being cosmopolitan but elsewhere in the Outer Planes if you want to be different, you need a sponsor who has enough oomph to make it stick.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Planescape is really a setting that deconstructs the idea of alignment, or at least shows a subset of the outer planar cohort who have risen above it as being civilized or superior to the infinite hordes of prototypical outsiders. Sigil has more alignment exceptions in it than alignment prototypes - arms-dealing angels who perpetuate the Blood War for the good of the heavens, the Friendly Fiend as a helpful arcanoloth shopkeeper, Baatezu who channel their evil impulses into providing SM services to Senates, modrons that have escaped the hierarchy, Slaadi innkeepers who limit their chaos to butlerish affectations, etc. Not to mention you've got gods whose realms are in the wrong planes for their alignment because it matches their mythology (meaning 'where you end up' gets a lot more complicated in a setting that has taken Planescape to heart), and Planescape does a fair job of ensuring that even the Upper Planes have their fair share of secrets, troubles, and dangers. If you go to heaven in Planescape, that's no guarantee that the angel in charge won't make a deal to use your layer to host the training of a planetary pacification force that's so much less good than it claims that your layer falls to the next plane down.

    So basically, Planescape is what you get when a bunch of designers build setting around 'yeah, alignment is a bit of a farce innit?' while acknowledging that farce or not, it's backed by some large cosmic forces that have quite a lot of sway. Sigil can get away with being cosmopolitan but elsewhere in the Outer Planes if you want to be different, you need a sponsor who has enough oomph to make it stick.
    Cool, this makes me want to play Planescape a lot more now.

    also it tells me that my Succubus Spy from heaven concept is the perfect character for this setting.

    now if only other people were to play planescape with me. the eternal rolepalyers lament.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    This could have interesting implications. What happens to D&D cosmology when someone Evil is weaponizing Good against innocents? That itself could easily be part of the villain's goal.
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The very fact that such a thing can even be a possibility should illustrate just how bonkers it is have "Good" and "Evil" as "cosmic forces" that can be tapped and manipulated like electricity, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    It's really only a problem if you actively dislike the concept. Just because it's crazy doesn't mean it can't be fun. But I'm not going to try and convince anyone they should go along with any settings weird cosmology. It's ultimately up to each table to decide how they want to handle it (though they should understand the expectations of the system and players who come to their table having played or read of it elsewhere).
    Yeah, I'm honestly not seeing the issue. Sure, casting Holy Word in a crowded marketplace is likely to be every bit as destructive and catastrophic as casting Chain Lightning there would be; a good or even neutral cleric who did so would fall pretty much instantly. But that fall would likely mean they couldn't continue to "weaponize Good" going forward either. And while there are destructive arcane "[Good]" spells too, they are far fewer in number and most tend to be Sanctified, which means you can be metaphysically cut off from them too.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Yeah, I've always been bugged by the notion that [Alignment] tagged spells cannot be used without advancing the cause of the alignment in question, and turning the caster's soul that direction. Having it use [Alignment] energy and thus be inaccessible to those who aren't already of the requisite alignment makes a lot more sense. Which is true for clerics, not so much for arcane casters, as-is.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Actually that only works for Evil. Casting [Good] spells does not make you turn Good. BoED 7:

    CASTING GOOD SPELLS

    Good spells alleviate suffering, inspire hope or joy, use the caster’s energy or vitality to help or heal another, summon celestials, or channel holy power. Particularly in the last instance, good spells might be just as destructive—at least to evil creatures—as a fireball. Not all good spells involve only sweetness and light. Good spells don’t have any redemptive influence on those who cast them, for better or worse. An evil wizard who dabbles in a few good spells, most likely to help him achieve selfish ends, does not usually decide to abandon his evil ways because he’s been purified by the touch of the holy.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    It's also telling that it takes an entire library of added books to even start to get a handle on the subject in that edition... and that the books seem to contradict in a few places from the information that people relay.

    (PHB, DMG, BoED, BoVD, etc?)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-12 at 02:29 PM.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Actually that only works for Evil. Casting [Good] spells does not make you turn Good. BoED 7:
    9_9 Great. So it's really, REALLY inconsistent. Ugh.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    9_9 Great. So it's really, REALLY inconsistent. Ugh.
    Why should it be consistent? Evil is supposed to be an easier path to slide down than Good - that's the whole point.

    "We must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy." - Albus Dumbledore


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Why should it be consistent? Evil is supposed to be an easier path to slide down than Good - that's the whole point.

    "We must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy." - Albus Dumbledore
    I think that gets played up more in fiction, really. Difficulty and morality seem to be tangential more often than fictional tropes would allow for.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Actually that only works for Evil. Casting [Good] spells does not make you turn Good. BoED 7:
    Which is fairly standard with a Western view of morality, really... Good tends to be viewed as a form of purity, from which deviation makes you notGood. But evil is a far more flexible state... doing a little bit of good never makes you notEvil. (Part of why I really hate the idea of "anti-Paladins" having limitations inverted from AD&D Paladins. "Ooops, you willfully failed to litter, which is Lawful" quickly becomes a farcical position.)
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I think that gets played up more in fiction, really. Difficulty and morality seem to be tangential more often than fictional tropes would allow for.
    Most TTRPG settings are fictional, at least last time I checked

    Less facetiously, the folks who write fantasy settings generally also write fantasy fiction, and bring their mindsets with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Which is fairly standard with a Western view of morality, really... Good tends to be viewed as a form of purity, from which deviation makes you notGood. But evil is a far more flexible state... doing a little bit of good never makes you notEvil. (Part of why I really hate the idea of "anti-Paladins" having limitations inverted from AD&D Paladins. "Ooops, you willfully failed to litter, which is Lawful" quickly becomes a farcical position.)
    Yes - BoED in particular subscribes quite heavily to Rousseau Was Right, and Pathfinder too from what I've seen. Can't speak as much for other alignment systems.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Most TTRPG settings are fictional, at least last time I checked

    Less facetiously, the folks who write fantasy settings generally also write fantasy fiction, and bring their mindsets with them.
    More's the pity.

    But then, I've little interest in emulating genre conventions.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-12 at 03:45 PM. Reason: typo
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Yes - BoED in particular subscribes quite heavily to Rousseau Was Right, and Pathfinder too from what I've seen. Can't speak as much for other alignment systems.
    To an extent, it's necessary for the conception of Team Good and Team Evil... if Evil cannot become Good, and Good cannot become Evil, then the team lines are strictly arbitrary... might as well call them Team Red and Team Blue. If Good can become Evil, it must be corruptible. If Evil can become Good, it must be redeemable. While extreme outliers are allowed (i.e. angels and demons), that's more because they're the manifestation of the forces... and, even then, fallen angels and ascending demons are popular tropes.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    I'm definitely not going to rehash the debate over aligned spells here, sorry, Psyren. I think we hashed it out as much as we could and beyond the point of having anything convincing to say, and I still am not sure people really grasped what I was getting at. It isn't worth it to me to try to clarify again just to cause more argument.

    Suffice it to say that I don't like the notion that channeling one energy makes you more aligned with it, but channeling its opposite does not make you more aligned with its opposite. This is, for purposes of here and now, an opinion of mine.

    As to RPGs assuming Rousseau was right...they might treat the tabula rasa part as true enough, but I don't think they assume everybody tends towards goodness. Various races tend different ways, in fact, according to the alignment fields in their MM entries.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    But then, I've little interest in emulate genre conventions.
    And here we're at the point of differing tastes, so there's really nothing else to debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I'm definitely not going to rehash the debate over aligned spells here, sorry, Psyren.
    See above, but to discuss the second part:

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    As to RPGs assuming Rousseau was right...they might treat the tabula rasa part as true enough, but I don't think they assume everybody tends towards goodness. Various races tend different ways, in fact, according to the alignment fields in their MM entries.
    Aside from the subtyped monsters though, those entries assume they are raised in specific environments. The average Drow you run into is one that has been raised under Lolth's (or more accurately, her priestesses') tender ministrations; the ones that didn't either didn't survive to adulthood at all, or are named/exceptional NPCs with entries of their own. THAT is why the drow alignment is the way it is, not because they are not blank slates that wouldn't have turned out good somewhere else.

    And even with the subtyped monsters, as Mark Hall mentioned, you can have the odd one that defies their nature. It's important to remember that D&D PCs are assumed to be exceptional, the protagonists in a larger narrative of some kind - it's only natural that they'll run into equally exceptional NPCs, especially if they are continuing to operate and advance through the setting. That doesn't mean the rule is false for the setting as a whole.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2018-02-12 at 03:43 PM.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Aside from the subtyped monsters though, those entries assume they are raised in specific environments. The average Drow you run into is one that has been raised under Lolth's (or more accurately, her priestesses') tender ministrations; the ones that didn't either didn't survive to adulthood at all, or are named/exceptional NPCs with entries of their own. THAT is why the drow alignment is the way it is, not because they are not blank slates that wouldn't have turned out good somewhere else.

    And even with the subtyped monsters, as Mark Hall mentioned, you can have the odd one that defies their nature. It's important to remember that D&D PCs are assumed to be exceptional, the protagonists in a larger narrative of some kind - it's only natural that they'll run into equally exceptional NPCs, especially if they are continuing to operate and advance through the setting. That doesn't mean the rule is false for the setting as a whole.
    Sure. But even that, applied consistently, suggests that those with "good" tendencies are also product of environment, with the evil ones disciplined until they won't be evil anymore.

    Of course, if you take Rousseau's actual position on the matter, he wasn't really arguing a "tendency towards good" in the civilized sense, but rather that there exists a "natural innocence" until the creature learns to be more than a tabula rasa. That natural innocence is also that of children or animals, and like mother nature can be red in tooth and claw. It's just that the beast isn't evil for hunting and killing its prey. It's just a beast, doing what it must to survive.

    Humans, under Rousseau's formulation, learn to be better than beasts. It actually has some pretty strong parallels to the Garden of Eden and the Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil, whether you take that as gospel truth (no, literally) or as a metaphoric myth. The idea being that we become good, rather than innocent, by learning to rise above base natural urges. In a sense, he equates this with developing social behaviors, though I am not well enough versed in his works to know whether he directly makes that association or not.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Of course, when you get to mortal races that are literal descendants of deities, you get a different question. Humans may follow the broad strokes of "natural innocence that will trend towards self-interest", but what about dwarves, forged by Moradin? Which way would their instincts lie? Or elves, the blood of Corellon Larethian? Or Orcs, the spawn of Gruumsh? Even if you assume that each of these is born NN, you might wind up with them trending towards LG, CG, or CE, respectively, because, while they are moral actors, they're also descended from the strongly aligned outsiders.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Of course, when you get to mortal races that are literal descendants of deities, you get a different question. Humans may follow the broad strokes of "natural innocence that will trend towards self-interest", but what about dwarves, forged by Moradin? Which way would their instincts lie? Or elves, the blood of Corellon Larethian? Or Orcs, the spawn of Gruumsh? Even if you assume that each of these is born NN, you might wind up with them trending towards LG, CG, or CE, respectively, because, while they are moral actors, they're also descended from the strongly aligned outsiders.
    My personal theory on this is that they'll trend towards self-interest, as well, and the various aligned expressions of this will stem from what self-interest means to those races. Maybe elves really do benefit more strongly from a loose community, and need flexibility to achieve their proper mental balance. Or maybe they literally don't learn until they're able to figure out meditation, because long-term memory is organized during sleep. So when they go too long without it, they get flighty.

    Maybe dwarves actually have a spiritual connection to their clan and their history, forged and symbolized by wealth and communal works of art. The treasure they keep is a symbol of their clan and history, and half their identity. The other half is their clan identity. They really do not value themselves above the clan, because the clan will retain a part of them, while their individuality withers and dies without the clan and their treasure.

    Maybe orcs, unlike any other race, actually have fewer diminishing returns on concentrating resources (food, training, etc.) into single beings. A community is stronger for having a few tyrannical overlords who are maximally overstuffed, than by them all having a better distribution of resources. Maybe they have a strong "champion-minded" attitude, as well, where they identify with their leaders the way humans identify with their sports teams. Their leaders' victories are theirs. Their leaders' grandeur is theirs. Sure, they'd like to be on top, but if they're not, they're willing to pour everything into the one who is, because his grandeur reflects their self-worth more than their own comforts do. This isn't generosity. This is self-aggrandizement. They will gleefully take from any who ARE NOT their group, their leader, and revel in it. Their own achievements are their leader's, too, after all.

    But if he's going to fall, dying for him is stupid. Just elevate another. Or claim the top for yourself.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    My personal theory on this is that they'll trend towards self-interest, as well, and the various aligned expressions of this will stem from what self-interest means to those races. Maybe elves really do benefit more strongly from a loose community, and need flexibility to achieve their proper mental balance. Or maybe they literally don't learn until they're able to figure out meditation, because long-term memory is organized during sleep. So when they go too long without it, they get flighty.

    Maybe dwarves actually have a spiritual connection to their clan and their history, forged and symbolized by wealth and communal works of art. The treasure they keep is a symbol of their clan and history, and half their identity. The other half is their clan identity. They really do not value themselves above the clan, because the clan will retain a part of them, while their individuality withers and dies without the clan and their treasure.

    Maybe orcs, unlike any other race, actually have fewer diminishing returns on concentrating resources (food, training, etc.) into single beings. A community is stronger for having a few tyrannical overlords who are maximally overstuffed, than by them all having a better distribution of resources. Maybe they have a strong "champion-minded" attitude, as well, where they identify with their leaders the way humans identify with their sports teams. Their leaders' victories are theirs. Their leaders' grandeur is theirs. Sure, they'd like to be on top, but if they're not, they're willing to pour everything into the one who is, because his grandeur reflects their self-worth more than their own comforts do. This isn't generosity. This is self-aggrandizement. They will gleefully take from any who ARE NOT their group, their leader, and revel in it. Their own achievements are their leader's, too, after all.

    But if he's going to fall, dying for him is stupid. Just elevate another. Or claim the top for yourself.
    I'm fine with your theory but why can't it be both? Yes, "self-interest" to an elf might trend them more towards a loosely individualistic yet generally benign community - but it's a community that still has positive externalities for the world at large. Thus it results in more "good" overall.

    The larger point is that Drow, and Orcs etc. never really have the opportunity to try living another way, because advancement (and in many cases, survival!) in those societies requires them to adhere to guidelines set forth by deities that are very much set in their ways. In other words, whether they are truly blank slates or not is pretty irrelevant in practice, as long as the racial deities are who they are and stay at the top.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    I'm fine with your theory but why can't it be both? Yes, "self-interest" to an elf might trend them more towards a loosely individualistic yet generally benign community - but it's a community that still has positive externalities for the world at large. Thus it results in more "good" overall.

    The larger point is that Drow, and Orcs etc. never really have the opportunity to try living another way, because advancement (and in many cases, survival!) in those societies requires them to adhere to guidelines set forth by deities that are very much set in their ways. In other words, whether they are truly blank slates or not is pretty irrelevant in practice, as long as the racial deities are who they are and stay at the top.
    I'm not disagreeing with your larger point. If, however, it's strictly "our gods say so" that enforces the culture (and for the Drow, that is unequivocally, hilariously the case; their society DOES NOT WORK without Lolth's constant intervention), as much can be said for the traditionally good races: they have little chance of turning out evil because their societies are dictated by their gods, who promote based on goodness and successful implementation of plans for the greater good, etc.

    If gods take on the level of an active hand that actually warps the reward function of the societies in which they operate, then the reward function of those societies will be warped towards those gods' preferences.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I'm not disagreeing with your larger point. If, however, it's strictly "our gods say so" that enforces the culture (and for the Drow, that is unequivocally, hilariously the case; their society DOES NOT WORK without Lolth's constant intervention), as much can be said for the traditionally good races: they have little chance of turning out evil because their societies are dictated by their gods, who promote based on goodness and successful implementation of plans for the greater good, etc.
    I guess I'm not understanding what the issue with this is. A society founded on practices rooted in religion is not so strange, even in ones where the gods aren't taking an active hand in affairs (never mind when they are.) Heck, even Eberron has it, and they managed it with deities that are completely silent.

    I mean, yeah it opens up the legitimate question of whether these societies would have turned out the same way absent any divine influence at all, but since there aren't any mainstream published settings that don't, it's a pretty moot point. I think the closest we've come to that is Ravenloft, and even that has the Mists heavily influencing people's behavior.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    If gods take on the level of an active hand that actually warps the reward function of the societies in which they operate, then the reward function of those societies will be warped towards those gods' preferences.
    I'm not sure I'd describe it as "warping" though. The gods (especially the racial ones) have priorities, and they nudge their followers in the direction of those priorities - some more firmly than others. But for the Good ones, if the overall impact on the world is itself Good - via dogma like "protect the innocent" and "preserve beauty" and "heal those who hurt" etc. - does it truly matter if there's an agenda there? It's not like the evil ones care about the "why."


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    I guess I'm not understanding what the issue with this is. A society founded on practices rooted in religion is not so strange, even in ones where the gods aren't taking an active hand in affairs (never mind when they are.) Heck, even Eberron has it, and they managed it with deities that are completely silent.

    I mean, yeah it opens up the legitimate question of whether these societies would have turned out the same way absent any divine influence at all, but since there aren't any mainstream published settings that don't, it's a pretty moot point. I think the closest we've come to that is Ravenloft, and even that has the Mists heavily influencing people's behavior.



    I'm not sure I'd describe it as "warping" though. The gods (especially the racial ones) have priorities, and they nudge their followers in the direction of those priorities - some more firmly than others. But for the Good ones, if the overall impact on the world is itself Good - via dogma like "protect the innocent" and "preserve beauty" and "heal those who hurt" etc. - does it truly matter if there's an agenda there? It's not like the evil ones care about the "why."
    My point, in specific response to your own about why evil races turn out evil (i.e. that it's due to their culture and gods) is that it applies equally to good races. And lawful and chaotic ones, as well.

    Not that it's a "problem" so much as it's not something that says anything about the races that aren't evil having a "natural proclivity" towards good. Regardless of whether the cause is a natural inclination or godly intervention or cultural inertia, the cause of the races' scions growing up [aligned] can be the same. It seems unlikely that, for instance, orcs are "naturally inclined to good" and that the only thing making them evil is Gruumsh and their culture. If they are naturally inclined in any direction, it's probably towards their god's proclivity, because he would have made them that way.

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