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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Yeah, in general, "slavery" as we think of it today is going to be evil on the face of it, to the point that we cannot see an LG society practicing it.

    To see an LG society practicing it, the term has to be stripped of a lot of the obvious (to us) implications of what owning another person allows the owner to do to that person.

    In essence, the slave stops being chattel-level property in an LG society. At the worst end of it, it's somewhere hovering just above a pet or a child in terms of personal rights. The owner has all decision-making regarding "well-being" decisions, and directs the slave's life, but is generally expected to have the slave's best interests at heart, and to take good care of said slaves, treating them kindly and well. At the most idealistic end of it, the slave has all the rights to dignity that any freeman does, except the ability to determine who his employer is. He may or may not have say in what his job is, but any LG society is going to see misusing a slave as not just wasteful but immoral. And slaves who do get the crap jobs (sometimes literally) either are the ones who genuinely deserve the penal duty, or who are otherwise well-treated and appreciated.

    The reason we see slavery as evil through and through today (and I happen to agree with this) is because we recognize that the ability to tell somebody that they are a prisoner and permanent employee, even if that's ALL there is to it, engenders an attitude of entitlement and power to abuse that will lead to and even tacitly encourage such abuses.

    It's a system where safeguards of self-determination are removed when they needn't be. Self-determination allows even the poorest of employees to decide that he's better off seeking other employment than withstanding the abuses of his current boss. Slavery traps them there.

    But I can absolutely see how an LG society coming at it from a different historical and philosophical perspective would say that the problem isn't in slavery, but in some people just being unworthy slave-owners. If I were inclined to engage in debate from an RP standpoint (or like I was on a debate team, where making the argument for a position you don't hold is considered a sign of good skill), I could construct some fairly decent debate positions for that LG apologist which, even if you didn't agree with him, would leave you convinced he really is both Lawful and Good at heart. At least, I think so. (I am not, in fact, a very good debater. But I see in this case how to do it.)

    Because this is so charged a subject, I feel the need to emphasize: I do not think slavery is good nor justified. I just see how an LG person could believe it, given the properly-framed worldview, and still be LG. Even after thinking it through.

    See, I don't think they could actually be good, no matter how good they thought they were.

    A system that gives one person the ability to tell another person that they are a prisoner and permanent employee is in and of itself inherently evil.*

    It is in and of itself inherently evil for one person to own another person.


    * (Setting aside the spurious comparisons some have made to blur the line with working, fair and just, justice systems.)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-07-11 at 04:24 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Scripten View Post
    I mean, once you remove the major parts that make slavery, well, slavery, it kind of ceases to be slavery, doesn't it? At this point we're talking about a lot of institutions and conflating them under the term slavery, which is likely the cause of a lot of the disagreements and proclamations.
    Sure. But you also have to realize that the term has historically been used to refer to institutions and practices which are more akin to the "not really slavery anymore" kind of slavery described.

    And there have been institutions far WORSE than what we consider slavery that aren't called by that term, even though we'd probably say, "that sounds a lot like 'slavery' to me" if we had them described in detail.

    The fundamental requirement for it to have the denotative term accurately applied is the notion of owning the person or their labor without that person being able to decide to legally terminate the relationship (or at least, not without paying a fee to get out of it - e.g. buying their own contract).

    Yes, we can say, from our perspective, "That's not really slavery," but if we're only doing that so we can keep saying, "Slavery is always evil," we're into the "no true Scottsman" fallacy.

    I don't actually think we need go there to make the assertion, mind. But we do need to work harder than simply making the assertion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    See, I don't think they could actually be good, no matter how good they thought they were.

    A system that gives one person the ability to tell another person that they are a prisoner and permanent employee is in and of itself inherently evil.*

    It is in and of itself inherently evil for one person to own another person.


    * (Setting aside the spurious comparisons some have made to blur the line with working, fair and just, justice systems.)
    Part of the problem is that the "spurious comparisons" are often what is termed "slavery" in other cultures.

    Part of the problem is that some cultures have what we'd recognize as 'slavery' under another name, and would claim nevertheless to abhor "slavery" as an institution and insist theirs wasn't.

    I do agree with you, Max: anything that has a person who's done nothing wrong held captive and his labor owned unconditionally by another is not a good institution.

    My point, however, is that I can see how an LG person, coming from a different perspective, would have to have a lot of philosophical work and analysis, far beyond what most people bother doing even with the best of intentions, to come to that conclusion. It's a pretty deep examination (often deeper than we, as children of the culture in which we grew up, realize it actually is...and sometimes deeper than we give it, as many would just have a knee jerk "slavery == evil" reaction without actually being able to tell you why) to really get to the root of why slavery is fundamentally evil. It's far from being obvious if you aren't starting from the knee jerk "slavery == evil" position.

    And a completely LG person with a moderate but not soul-searchingly deep examination of the institution, could very easily come from a society where the notion that slavery is evil on its face is alien. Such a person would agree that various abuses that happen to slaves are wrong. He would also point out that such abuses happen in non-slave employer/employee relationships, and that corrupt officials always are an issue. He'd blame many of the problems on corruption of the system, not the system, itself.

    Getting down to the root of why personal freedom and the right to one's own agency is critical to avoiding evil requires very thorough understanding of interconnected consequences. It's easy to snarl even those with "slavery == evil" knee-jerk reactions with some of the stuff that you have to parse through to get there. If you don't inherently believe slavery to be evil on its face to start with, getting through them is even harder.

    Thus, I can see a perfectly believable, sympathetic, and noble-minded LG character who believes slavery to be just fine. He doesn't think abusing slaves is fine. But slavery existing, even owning slaves? That's totally fine with him. And yet, we would not likely view him as an evil man, because even when slavery's obvious evils come up, he's there defending the slaves from those evils.

    I would still say he's wrong, and could argue well with him on why, but I can see why he'd be hard to convince and even construct large parts of his hypothetical argument for him.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    As far as a hypothetical society where slavery conditions were so good as to be beyond reproach - why would they even have slavery at that point? Free workers don't need to be guarded, and have less issues in general. And when you consider the unpleasant working conditions that people accepted during, say, the industrial revolution, any job that /requires/ enslaving people is not going to be remotely good.
    Yes, slavery can become easily less efficient than using free workers for a lot of reasons.

    That is why so many societies were slavery did exist never made it a really important part if their economy. And never have seen any need to import slaves or finance some slave catching operation elsewhere - there was just no demand for that many slaves, especially if it took effort or money to get them.

    Slaves were convicted criminals or war prisoners of battles fought anyway (and probably very near) or people heavily indebted. In all those cases they started out already in the power of someone else with the expectation to somehow make that a positive thing for the one holding that power. Those future owners would not have bought slaves to make the work and would very likely be happy for an opportunity to sell instead (or simply take ransom).

    The only occations where slavery is economically valid is either by mistreating slaves, a completely emptied labor market (as has happened after certain desasters or during transition periods) or for decidedly longterm projects to avoid labor fluctuation.

    As far as slavery as an alternative to improsonment, my main issue would be that it creates perverse incentives - see asset forfeiture and for-profit prisons for examples. When sentencing someone guilty puts money in your pocket (including indirectly), it has a tendency to bias the justice system.
    Imprisoning as punishment is a pretty new thing because it costs money and doesn't help victoms or justice system. Traditional alternatives to slavery as punishment are
    - exile
    - a payment or confiscation of wealth, maybe even from the family
    - corporal punishemnt

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    The fundamental requirement for it to have the denotative term accurately applied is the notion of owning the person or their labor without that person being able to decide to legally terminate the relationship (or at least, not without paying a fee to get out of it - e.g. buying their own contract).
    That is really broad, including pretty much all kinds of unfree or half-free people. Even historic use is not that encompassing. People like
    Ministerialis
    Serfs
    Coloni
    Lassen/Laten/Liten

    Would all be slaves. And arguably in less monetized economies where taxes had to be done in form of labor, it might most regular inhabitants.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2018-07-12 at 02:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    That is really broad, including pretty much all kinds of unfree or half-free people. Even historic use is not that encompassing. People like
    Ministerialis
    Serfs
    Coloni
    Lassen/Laten/Liten

    Would all be slaves. And arguably in less monetized economies where taxes had to be done in form of labor, it might most regular inhabitants.
    Serfs are definitely slaves.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    That is really broad, including pretty much all kinds of unfree or half-free people. Even historic use is not that encompassing. People like
    Ministerialis
    Serfs
    Coloni
    Lassen/Laten/Liten

    Would all be slaves. And arguably in less monetized economies where taxes had to be done in form of labor, it might most regular inhabitants.
    Indeed. That was part of my point.

    Any of those terms might translate as “slave” on first brush with another culture which doesn’t have rose forms of servitude. And even in some that do.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    Serfs are definitely slaves.
    In the Realms at least, a distinction is made:

    FRCS pages 86-87: Slavery

    Few of the human kingdoms and cities of the Heartlands permit slavery within their borders. Indentured servitude and serfdom are relatively common practices that approach the brutality of slavery in some lands, but even the most wretched serf or servant is considered a human being, not property.

    Conditions of slavery vary wildly between different lands. Slaves in Mulhorand outnumber the free citizens- and, not surprisingly, the life of a slave in Mulhorand is little worse than the life of a peasant in most other lands. Slaves in Thay and Unther endure far harsher treatment, both by callous masters and a society that considers them to be nonentities.

    Regardless of the conditions, most Heartland humans find slavery extremely distasteful at the very least, and more than a few consider it an abomination in the sight of the gods.
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    In the Realms at least, a distinction is made:

    FRCS pages 86-87: Slavery
    We're getting into semantics, here. For your LG kingdom, a "slave" might be better treated than an FR Serf. Including more civil rights and freedoms.

    Just about any argument that "slavery is always evil" can genuinely be applied to serfdom, too.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    We're getting into semantics, here. For your LG kingdom, a "slave" might be better treated than an FR Serf. Including more civil rights and freedoms.

    Just about any argument that "slavery is always evil" can genuinely be applied to serfdom, too.
    That's why I think you need to look at the actual practices in effect, aside from just the words "slavery" or "serfdom". Also define "good" and "evil" and the criteria by which the game/universe applies those labels to people and actions. Otherwise people are potentially not even debating the same thing.

    IE: Sparta's helots were technically "serfs", but the system in place and the acts required to repress them would definitely be "evil" by D&D standards.

    1. How does the society in question function, what are it's exact practices re:servitude/labor- including how people are chosen for servitude and the manner in which society enforces its social hierarchy, not only how they are treated during their servitude. Each practice/act must be judged according to an agreed on objective definition for good, neutral or evil alignment.

    2. What is the experience and awareness of the person in question re: the society they live in. What is their relationship with and involvement in those practices that may have been labeled "evil" or not good? Does the alignment system say a person is by default "good" until proven otherwise? Or are they neutral by default and must prove either goodness or evilness through their actions and reactions to pressures and conundrums? Can you be good if you have never had to face a moral conundrum through which you chose kindness or selflessness or compassion over comfort or greed or safety?
    Last edited by Thrudd; 2018-07-12 at 12:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    That's why I think you need to look at the actual practices in effect, aside from just the words "slavery" or "serfdom". Also define "good" and "evil" and the criteria by which the game/universe applies those labels to people and actions. Otherwise people are potentially not even debating the same thing.

    IE: Sparta's helots were technically "serfs", but the system in place and the acts required to repress them would definitely be "evil" by D&D standards.

    1. How does the society in question function, what are it's exact practices re:servitude/labor- including how people are chosen for servitude and the manner in which society enforces its social hierarchy, not only how they are treated during their servitude. Each practice/act must be judged according to an agreed on objective definition for good, neutral or evil alignment.

    2. What is the experience and awareness of the person in question re: the society they live in. What is their relationship with and involvement in those practices that may have been labeled "evil" or not good? Does the alignment system say a person is by default "good" until proven otherwise? Or are they neutral by default and must prove either goodness or evilness through their actions and reactions to pressures and conundrums? Can you be good if you have never had to face a moral conundrum through which you chose kindness or selflessness or compassion over comfort or greed or safety?
    And all of this is why, speaking specifically to the OP's question of whether an LG person could support the theoretical institution of slavery, I say "yes."

    He just has to lump the abuses into a category of things that he can justify as not being inherently part of slavery, and the ones he can't as things that can be done "with a light touch" and as "no worse" than any other institution's methods of keeping order. Can't have soldiers deserting the army, so harsh punishments for such behavior are fairly normal. Can't have swindlers taking payment and never rendering service, so forcing them to make good on it is a necessity.

    Again, not defending it, myself. Just pointing out how somebody with the right mindset and historical perspective could be a Lawful and Good person and still logically defend the institution and have no problem hanging out with slave owners nor with owning slaves, himself. Heck, he might have a good friend who's a slave he grew up with. Either due to hereditary slavery (which is harder to defend, but could be done to an LG person immersed in the culture's reasonable satisfaction) or due to that friend having been not that well-off and selling himself into slavery being a leg up, financially.

    "Wow, you know Jered?"
    "The poor kid you hang out with?"
    "Well, I wouldn't put it like that, but yeah, he's always had it a little rough. His dad just died, and his mom's having trouble supporting his baby sister."
    "Ouch. That's poverty for you. Sucks. Maybe some charity?"
    "They're too proud to accept it; I've offered."
    "Maybe you can convince them to take it if Jared or his mom are selling themselves into your service? You could even practically order them to move into one of your nicer servant's quarters and be responsible for taking care of them, then. Gotta be better than that hovel he was always embarrassed to invite us to."
    "Hey, that might work. I'll see if Jared wants to be my footman. It'd be a great excuse to hang out more."


    Contrived? Yeah, but not ridiculously so. And to a culture that doesn't view slavery as stigmatic and doesn't accept any sort of cruel abusive behavior from slave-owners, would be a moderately reasonable way to look at it. All with good intent from our LG friend-of-Jered, and just clever/sensible in a culture, again, where slavery is a thing that's just a particular contractual relationship of exclusive service.

    (I've seen similar, but not identical, plots involving taking the mother as a wife or second wife or something, in various fictions. The one I remember most clearly was a manga set in the Steppe region of Asia, where a young wife whose husband was noted for refusing to take a harem because he loved her so much became close friends with a working-class man's wife when the latter was pregnant with their first child. The husband died some time after the child was born, and the rich man's young wife was distraught for her, and convinced her husband to take her friend on as a second wife in order to support her and the child.)
    Last edited by Segev; 2018-07-12 at 12:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    And all of this is why, speaking specifically to the OP's question of whether an LG person could support the theoretical institution of slavery, I say "yes."

    He just has to lump the abuses into a category of things that he can justify as not being inherently part of slavery, and the ones he can't as things that can be done "with a light touch" and as "no worse" than any other institution's methods of keeping order. Can't have soldiers deserting the army, so harsh punishments for such behavior are fairly normal. Can't have swindlers taking payment and never rendering service, so forcing them to make good on it is a necessity.

    Again, not defending it, myself. Just pointing out how somebody with the right mindset and historical perspective could be a Lawful and Good person and still logically defend the institution and have no problem hanging out with slave owners nor with owning slaves, himself. Heck, he might have a good friend who's a slave he grew up with. Either due to hereditary slavery (which is harder to defend, but could be done to an LG person immersed in the culture's reasonable satisfaction) or due to that friend having been not that well-off and selling himself into slavery being a leg up, financially.

    "Wow, you know Jered?"
    "The poor kid you hang out with?"
    "Well, I wouldn't put it like that, but yeah, he's always had it a little rough. His dad just died, and his mom's having trouble supporting his baby sister."
    "Ouch. That's poverty for you. Sucks. Maybe some charity?"
    "They're too proud to accept it; I've offered."
    "Maybe you can convince them to take it if Jared or his mom are selling themselves into your service? You could even practically order them to move into one of your nicer servant's quarters and be responsible for taking care of them, then. Gotta be better than that hovel he was always embarrassed to invite us to."
    "Hey, that might work. I'll see if Jared wants to be my footman. It'd be a great excuse to hang out more."


    Contrived? Yeah, but not ridiculously so. And to a culture that doesn't view slavery as stigmatic and doesn't accept any sort of cruel abusive behavior from slave-owners, would be a moderately reasonable way to look at it. All with good intent from our LG friend-of-Jered, and just clever/sensible in a culture, again, where slavery is a thing that's just a particular contractual relationship of exclusive service.

    (I've seen similar, but not identical, plots involving taking the mother as a wife or second wife or something, in various fictions. The one I remember most clearly was a manga set in the Steppe region of Asia, where a young wife whose husband was noted for refusing to take a harem because he loved her so much became close friends with a working-class man's wife when the latter was pregnant with their first child. The husband died some time after the child was born, and the rich man's young wife was distraught for her, and convinced her husband to take her friend on as a second wife in order to support her and the child.)
    I don't think you are being nearly comprehensive enough in your analysis of the institutions and practices involved. Also, as far as the game goes, alignment is not relative to the culture you are brought up in. If enslaving people based on heredity is not good, it doesn't matter if you were brought up to believe it was ok. That means you were brought up evil or neutral.

    What I am saying is, any declaration that says "you can be good and still support slavery", can only be applied to a specific example of a society. It surely is not true that it is possible in all instances of slavery, or in most instances of things called slavery, for someone to be good. In arguing for a hypothetical version of servitude that could be tolerable to Good, you can't ignore procurement/assignment to and enforcement of servitude, and remember that alignment "Good" is not relative according to the society or upbringing, it is universal for the entire world/setting.

    When the question is "is it possible for this specific character to be good?", we need to identify all the specifics of that character's society and also what is objective requirement for being Good in that game world.
    It seems based on the description of the OP's particular society that she could not be good. I think, by the PF/D&D application of alignment, that most historical societies' treatment of servitude also could not be called good, and a D&D(contemporary post-modern western culture) "good" person would need to object, resist or subvert those systems if they found themselves living inside of one.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    I don't think you are being nearly comprehensive enough in your analysis of the institutions and practices involved. Also, as far as the game goes, alignment is not relative to the culture you are brought up in. If enslaving people based on heredity is not good, it doesn't matter if you were brought up to believe it was ok. That means you were brought up evil or neutral.
    I wouldn't expect the person brought up in a society that has slavery as "okay" would be comprehensive enough to get to the core problems with slavery as an institution, either.

    People can be factually wrong about what is good for themselves and others without being evil. Being evil requires that you fail to care about or actively seek to cause harm to others. The Well-Intentioned Extremist is a kind of antagonist who can be genuinely good and noble, and the challenge can be to show him the error of his ways. The best example I can think of, though, is from the Bible, and that risks treading into forbidden topics (religion). (The other kind of Well-Intentioned Extremist, which is more common, is justifying his evil vision in "greater good" terms, but through his actions demonstrates that he not only doesn't quite believe it, himself, but that he's actively afraid of being proven wrong. This is more typical, because it allows the writers to avoid having the antagonist be too easily thwarted by just talking to him, and enables the climactic fight at the end where the heroes prove they're the more righteous, after all.

    Let me clarify my intended tone of the last paragraph, because I know text transmits it poorly: I say none of that with bitterness or sarcasm or disdain. That is a perfectly fine way to write a villain. But it does obscure the much rarer genuine well-intentioned extremist who honestly wishes there were ways to avoid the harm he causes.

    It's more usual to see them as heroes, though. Protagonists, in stories where hard decisions are necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    What I am saying is, any declaration that says "you can be good and still support slavery", can only be applied to a specific example of a society. It surely is not true that it is possible in all instances of slavery, or in most instances of things called slavery, for someone to be good. In arguing for a hypothetical version of servitude that could be tolerable to Good, you can't ignore procurement/assignment to and enforcement of servitude, and remember that alignment "Good" is not relative according to the society or upbringing, it is universal for the entire world/setting.
    Absolutely. My point isn't that slavery can be or should be considered good. I would actually disagree with our hypothetical LG person who thinks it's fine. Because, unlike this hypothetical LG person whose arguments I'm constructing, I have done the deeper analysis to understand the fundamental evils buried at the core of slavery.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    When the question is "is it possible for this specific character to be good?", we need to identify all the specifics of that character's society and also what is objective requirement for being Good in that game world.
    It seems based on the description of the OP's particular society that she could not be good. I think, by the PF/D&D application of alignment, that most historical societies' treatment of servitude also could not be called good, and a D&D(contemporary post-modern western culture) "good" person would need to object, resist or subvert those systems if they found themselves living inside of one.
    We don't have sufficient description of her society to make that judgment.

    All it takes for her to be LG and still think slavery is generally okay is for her to believe that slavery can be instituted by Good-aligned people who would not abuse their slaves. The abuses and harms slavery causes in general would obscure the rood evils of it; she would reasonably view all those "but see what harm it does!?" arguments as inappropriately blaming slavery for the evils of individual slave-owners. She has doubtless seen slavery elevate the standard of living of some over the destitution and deprivation of homelessness. She likely sees slaves that are happy to be members of the households in which they work, and determines from this observational evidence that slavery can be instituted positively.

    You don't have to be a brilliant and deep thinker with high Int and Wis sufficient to see through all possible flawed philosophies to be Good. Not being so can lead to tragic errors in judgment, but making honest mistakes - even arguing strenuously in favor of what is a mistaken position - doesn't make you Evil. Or even Neutral. It just makes you wrong.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    The issue with cultural relativity in D&D is - what about Illithids? In their society, humans/dwarves/etc are seen as food, not on the same level of sapience as "real people" (Illithids). If an Illithid has never been outside that society, and never talked to their food, should they be considered neutral (or even good, assuming they're nice to other illithids)?

    Also; based on a number of things, I'm pretty sure D&D alignment is actions-based, not personality/intent based. You don't become evil by accidentally killing someone (you stepped on a hidden tripwire that was rigged to kill them), but you do become evil by intentionally killing people for what you incorrectly thought was a good reason. So I think someone who's inclinations are good but operates on the principles of an evil society would be neutral or evil, just a lot more likely to change their ways and /become/ good in the future.

    That said, there's more to life than RAW/canon. If your group is cool with the concept, go for it.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2018-07-12 at 08:26 PM.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I wouldn't expect the person brought up in a society that has slavery as "okay" would be comprehensive enough to get to the core problems with slavery as an institution, either.

    People can be factually wrong about what is good for themselves and others without being evil. Being evil requires that you fail to care about or actively seek to cause harm to others. The Well-Intentioned Extremist is a kind of antagonist who can be genuinely good and noble, and the challenge can be to show him the error of his ways. The best example I can think of, though, is from the Bible, and that risks treading into forbidden topics (religion). (The other kind of Well-Intentioned Extremist, which is more common, is justifying his evil vision in "greater good" terms, but through his actions demonstrates that he not only doesn't quite believe it, himself, but that he's actively afraid of being proven wrong. This is more typical, because it allows the writers to avoid having the antagonist be too easily thwarted by just talking to him, and enables the climactic fight at the end where the heroes prove they're the more righteous, after all.

    Let me clarify my intended tone of the last paragraph, because I know text transmits it poorly: I say none of that with bitterness or sarcasm or disdain. That is a perfectly fine way to write a villain. But it does obscure the much rarer genuine well-intentioned extremist who honestly wishes there were ways to avoid the harm he causes.

    It's more usual to see them as heroes, though. Protagonists, in stories where hard decisions are necessary.

    Absolutely. My point isn't that slavery can be or should be considered good. I would actually disagree with our hypothetical LG person who thinks it's fine. Because, unlike this hypothetical LG person whose arguments I'm constructing, I have done the deeper analysis to understand the fundamental evils buried at the core of slavery.

    We don't have sufficient description of her society to make that judgment.

    All it takes for her to be LG and still think slavery is generally okay is for her to believe that slavery can be instituted by Good-aligned people who would not abuse their slaves. The abuses and harms slavery causes in general would obscure the rood evils of it; she would reasonably view all those "but see what harm it does!?" arguments as inappropriately blaming slavery for the evils of individual slave-owners. She has doubtless seen slavery elevate the standard of living of some over the destitution and deprivation of homelessness. She likely sees slaves that are happy to be members of the households in which they work, and determines from this observational evidence that slavery can be instituted positively.

    You don't have to be a brilliant and deep thinker with high Int and Wis sufficient to see through all possible flawed philosophies to be Good. Not being so can lead to tragic errors in judgment, but making honest mistakes - even arguing strenuously in favor of what is a mistaken position - doesn't make you Evil. Or even Neutral. It just makes you wrong.
    I think you're still overlooking. The people actually living in a society don't need to do a deep analysis of it to see the issues I'm thinking of. There would be things they unavoidably see on a near daily basis, that we from non-slave societies don't necessarily think about, that would make it clear that what's going on isn't "good". It's not about being able to deduce things that aren't obvious, it would be about seeing daily abuses and choosing how to react to them. How people become slaves and what it requires for them to remain slaves isn't a secret from anybody.

    You wouldn't be Neutral for thinking you could reform slave society, you'd be Neutral if you weren't actively trying to do it. If you didn't even think society needed reforming, but thought it was only about how individual people treat their slaves, you would definitely be at least Neutral. Also, the alignment system does, in fact, judge people for having flawed philosophies. If you think it's ok to treat people from outside your tribe as sub-human, then you aren't Good, even if you were taught that as a child and everyone around you believes it.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    The PC's character arc ought to be about discovering that truth.
    Could be. But "ought to"? That seems rather table- and player-specific question to answer, rather than a mandate of heaven or law of physics.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    The issue with cultural relativity in D&D is - what about Illithids? In their society, humans/dwarves/etc are seen as food, not on the same level of sapience as "real people" (Illithids). If an Illithid has never been outside that society, and never talked to their food, should they be considered neutral (or even good, assuming they're nice to other illithids)?
    I think that eating the minds of their foodstuffs, and knowing first-hand kinda removes any doubts about ignorance.

    Now, that still leaves two possibilities: either we really are mindless cattle compared to Illithids, and they are justified in their actions, or they are evil.

    Consider: is raising animals for the slaughter, and eating them evil? They have minds, emotions, etc, just like people. Yet humans enslave, imprison, and consume them. How much introspection might it take to see that as obviously evil?

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Has anyone brought up yet those societies where slaves were the military or political power holders, like the Mamluks or Chinese court eunuchs?

    I will say I do find the weirdest part of the slavery/alignment debate the unexamined claim that slavery is somehow inherently lawful. Why? Slavery is currently illegal in every country on Earth (although I don't think back country Mauritania knows that yet) yet it is still relatively commonplace. So why would sex trafficking be a lawful act? Why would using people as illegal slave labor be lawful?

    Plenty of historical societies I would describe as Chaotic practiced slavery in various forms, and many lawful ones didn't.

    Slavery isn't (IMHO) linked to Lawfulness, it's linked to authoritarian views on power. And authoritarians, in their very focus on personal power rather than societal power tend towards chaos on the D&D Law/Chaos scale.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Andor13 View Post
    Slavery isn't (IMHO) linked to Lawfulness, it's linked to authoritarian views on power. And authoritarians, in their very focus on personal power rather than societal power tend towards chaos on the D&D Law/Chaos scale.
    I can't find myself agreeing to this. Authoritarianism relies on the use of laws to exert power - you can't have authoritarianism without laws. That, in and of itself, makes it Lawful.

    And while it's totally reasonable to have a Chaotic character working within authoritarian infrastructure, I'd argue that anyone who identifies as authoritarian would have to be Lawful. (Or at least consider themselves as such.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scripten View Post
    I can't find myself agreeing to this. Authoritarianism relies on the use of laws to exert power - you can't have authoritarianism without laws. That, in and of itself, makes it Lawful.

    And while it's totally reasonable to have a Chaotic character working within authoritarian infrastructure, I'd argue that anyone who identifies as authoritarian would have to be Lawful. (Or at least consider themselves as such.)
    I'm sorry, but that's nonsense. Authoritarians usually cloak themselves in a guise of lawfulness, but they care only about personal power, and will change the laws at a whim in their own interests. Look at Putin and Erdogan. Look at the rise of the Fascists. "Authoritarians are lawful" is a lie the people at the base of authoritarian regimes tell themselves in order to pretend that the horror is justified, and that it can't happen to them if they just toe the line.

    And really, by the standard "can't have X without laws" there is absolutely no system of government or politics save base anarchy which isn't Lawful.
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Andor13 View Post
    Has anyone brought up yet those societies where slaves were the military or political power holders, like the Mamluks or Chinese court eunuchs?

    I will say I do find the weirdest part of the slavery/alignment debate the unexamined claim that slavery is somehow inherently lawful. Why? Slavery is currently illegal in every country on Earth (although I don't think back country Mauritania knows that yet) yet it is still relatively commonplace. So why would sex trafficking be a lawful act? Why would using people as illegal slave labor be lawful?

    Plenty of historical societies I would describe as Chaotic practiced slavery in various forms, and many lawful ones didn't.

    Slavery isn't (IMHO) linked to Lawfulness, it's linked to authoritarian views on power. And authoritarians, in their very focus on personal power rather than societal power tend towards chaos on the D&D Law/Chaos scale.
    Quote Originally Posted by Andor13 View Post
    I'm sorry, but that's nonsense. Authoritarians usually cloak themselves in a guise of lawfulness, but they care only about personal power, and will change the laws at a whim in their own interests. Look at Putin and Erdogan. Look at the rise of the Fascists. "Authoritarians are lawful" is a lie the people at the base of authoritarian regimes tell themselves in order to pretend that the horror is justified, and that it can't happen to them if they just toe the line.
    Is it your opinion, then, that "lawful evil" is an impossible thing? That unjust, unfair, or abusive laws cannot exist?
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Fiendish Codex 2 had a list of traits that LE societies tend to display:



    Unquestioning deference to authority: rulers are loved and obeyed because they are rulers.

    Worship of strength: benevolence is considered undesirable and a sign of weakness, in leads and neighbours- people grow up hoping to prove their strength and their ability to dominate others.

    Strict rules: Conformity to a single identity is harshly enforced. Citizens strive to prove they belong to a mass whose collectve wisdom is greater than individual will. Foreigners and minorities are oppressed when weak and seen as threats when strong. All endeavors, however innocuous, must express the prevailing idealogy.

    Intrusive Control: Authorities monitor all pursuits and activities, ensuring that strict rules are followed to the letter. Ordinary people are expected to be strong, pure, militant, and self-denying.

    Harsh Punishments: tough punishments are routinely meted out for even minor infractions. the common person enthusiastically supports public humiliation, flogging, torture, etc. Ordinary folk view such measures as essential to the maintenance of social discipline.

    Bureaucratic precision: all transactions, especially those of enforcement authorities, are tracked and recorded with obsessive attention to detail. No act is too sadistic or gruesome to engender shame- all must be recorded for posterity's sake.

    Exemptions for rulers: The rules are meanst for everyone except figures of high authority, who by definition are so important that the actions cannot be contained in a rules set- they deserve all the comfort, pleasure, and aggrandizement they can get. Anyone who says this attitude represents a contradiction in terms is imprisoned, arrested, and tortured.

    Expansionist aims: Believing fervently in their manifest superiority, citizens of this culture cannot bear the thought of other societies that are organized differently or adhering to other values. Such decadent cultures must be conquered, subjugated, and turned into reflections (though inevitably inferior ones) of the lawful evil society.
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    I think you're still overlooking. The people actually living in a society don't need to do a deep analysis of it to see the issues I'm thinking of. There would be things they unavoidably see on a near daily basis, that we from non-slave societies don't necessarily think about, that would make it clear that what's going on isn't "good". It's not about being able to deduce things that aren't obvious, it would be about seeing daily abuses and choosing how to react to them. How people become slaves and what it requires for them to remain slaves isn't a secret from anybody.

    You wouldn't be Neutral for thinking you could reform slave society, you'd be Neutral if you weren't actively trying to do it. If you didn't even think society needed reforming, but thought it was only about how individual people treat their slaves, you would definitely be at least Neutral. Also, the alignment system does, in fact, judge people for having flawed philosophies. If you think it's ok to treat people from outside your tribe as sub-human, then you aren't Good, even if you were taught that as a child and everyone around you believes it.
    I am afraid I'm going to have to ask for specifics, at this point. What are the inherent abuses that you believe somebody growing up in a slave-owning society could not help but see and associate specifically with slavery, with little to no deep analysis?

    Keep in mind that, as a society that is LN to LG in general, it would have laws that, at a minimum, protect slaves as much as American laws protect pets from the cruelty of their masters and children from the cruelty of their parents, and probably that protect employees from abuse by their employers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andor13 View Post
    Has anyone brought up yet those societies where slaves were the military or political power holders, like the Mamluks or Chinese court eunuchs?
    Not really. Those do tend to be interesting. And make the question of "what does it mean to be a slave?" even fuzzier. But I don't think this is what the OP is asking about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andor13 View Post
    I will say I do find the weirdest part of the slavery/alignment debate the unexamined claim that slavery is somehow inherently lawful. Why? Slavery is currently illegal in every country on Earth (although I don't think back country Mauritania knows that yet) yet it is still relatively commonplace. So why would sex trafficking be a lawful act? Why would using people as illegal slave labor be lawful?

    Plenty of historical societies I would describe as Chaotic practiced slavery in various forms, and many lawful ones didn't.

    Slavery isn't (IMHO) linked to Lawfulness, it's linked to authoritarian views on power. And authoritarians, in their very focus on personal power rather than societal power tend towards chaos on the D&D Law/Chaos scale.
    Speaking to modern-day slavery of the illegal sort, it's in a fuzzy space because, technically, they're not legally "slaves." They're "unlawfully imprisoned." Now, that seems pedantic or semantic, and for good reason. Let me elaborate.

    Slavery is viewed as a Lawful (as opposed to Chaotic) institution because, for it to actually be "legitimate" slavery, it has to have a concept of ownership.

    In a chaotic or criminal enterprise, "ownership" is, itself, fuzzy. If a sex trafficking victim who is held as a slave manages to win over her owner, or just to escape from him, she can be free, because there isn't a social and legal structure designed to enforce his ownership of her outside of the men and weapons and tools of imprisonment he can use to hold her. There's no formal difference between the sex trafficked slave and the pretty young thing that the cartel boss told to get in his car to take back to his manor. His "kept women" are no more or less slaves than any he buys on the black market, because in all cases, it's his threat of violence and his physical entrapment (as well as any enticements he might offer) that keep his partners trapped with him.

    In theory, the farm workers forced to work the opium and marijuana fields of a cartel are "employees" as much as they are "slaves." In practice, it's closer to classic serfdom.

    Where the Cartel (or whatever) holds de facto sway, it imposes order. It may be technically illegal by international or national law of the recognized government of the region, but in practice, it's a functioning mini-State of its own. Any enforced concept of ownership is orderly by nature.

    Chaotic societies tend to eschew formalized notions of ownership in favor of an idea that if you use something and nobody contests your claim (or is able to do anything about it), it's more or less "yours." "I stole it fair and square" is a deliberately ironic statement that is nonetheless true in Chaotic societies.

    You need a strong concept of ownership to separate slavery from simple bullying and theft.

    Heck, strip away the veneer of faux contractual participation from the classic protection racket, and most victims of it are effectively enslaved. They turn over significant portions of their earnings to their masters, they must do what their masters demand in terms of providing goods and services, and they have no freedom to leave their master's employ. Even moving away is...discouraged...unless the master has decided to get rid of them.

    But we don't call it "slavery," because in theory, the protection racket isn't asserting ownership.

    Black market slavery in modern civilized societies is similarly not able to properly enforce a legal concept of ownership. There's no difference between the slave bought at black market and the "employee" who signed on out of fear or hope and now finds himself unable to quit for fear of his life. It isn't the same as discussing slavery as an institution of society, which inherently requires ordered structures to make it meaningful as an institution.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Speaking to modern-day slavery of the illegal sort, it's in a fuzzy space because, technically, they're not legally "slaves." They're "unlawfully imprisoned." Now, that seems pedantic or semantic, and for good reason. Let me elaborate.
    I don't see the distinction as mattering, even in the modern day. IMO:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostis_humani_generis

    The tradition of classing the pirate as "hostis humani generis" has been expanded to one other particular class of seafaring criminal, that of the slaver, who, by trafficking in human flesh upon the high seas, is similarly held to be in a state of war against all humanity. These treaties, as well as the customary international law, allow states to act similarly against slavers.
    This applies even when the "buyers" are in fact criminals within their own countries. A ship caught carrying people to be sold, is going to be treated as a slaver, regardless of the laws on slavery in the country the ship is heading to.
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    This applies even when the "buyers" are in fact criminals within their own countries. A ship caught carrying people to be sold, is going to be treated as a slaver, regardless of the laws on slavery in the country the ship is heading to.
    As a general - though there are lots of nuances and exceptions - rule, criminal behavior is Chaotic.

    Slavery as an institution is a Lawful thing because, to make it differentiable from any sort of thuggish compulsion, it requires an enforcible and thus well-defined concept of ownership. These slavers and pirates are either privateers, making them actually lawful and technically waging war, or are criminals who aren't really engaging in Lawful activities, themselves. The institution into which they sell their captives may well be Lawful, but it's only when they actually get enrolled in that institution that it's really "slavery." Before that, it's just captivity. Captivity is not inherently lawful nor chaotic.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Being enslaved by orcs is still being enslaved, even if their only concept of "enforcible ownership" is muscles.

    A point is made in FRCS that orc slaves suffer a lot - at least as much as Thayan ones.

    In the context of D&D it's made pretty clear that "illegal captivity & coerced labor" is slavery. In fact, just the captivity can qualify as "being enslaved" - given the intended endpoint.


    If you kidnap someone with the intention of selling them or making them work, then, by definition, you have enslaved them.


    The D&D writers don't really consider "thuggish compulsion" of this kind to be "not slavery" - thus it ends up being called slavery in the books.
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Being enslaved by orcs is still being enslaved, even if their only concept of "enforcible ownership" is muscles.

    A point is made in FRCS that orc slaves suffer a lot - at least as much as Thayan ones.

    In the context of D&D it's made pretty clear that "illegal captivity & coerced labor" is slavery. In fact, just the captivity can qualify as "being enslaved" - given the intended endpoint.


    If you kidnap someone with the intention of selling them or making them work, then, by definition, you have enslaved them.


    The D&D writers don't really consider "thuggish compulsion" of this kind to be "not slavery" - thus it ends up being called slavery in the books.

    If there are no laws, is there "illegal captivity"? Sure, there's immoral, unethical, and unjust captivity regardless of the law... but can there be "illegal" acts without any laws to violate?
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    There's always some places with laws - no D&D world is a completely lawless place. Thus, there is a law against kidnapping - which is being violated by the slavers.
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    There's always some places with laws - no D&D world is a completely lawless place. Thus, there is a law against kidnapping - which is being violated by the slavers.
    What if the place the slaves are taken from has no laws, either?

    (I'm not saying this makes slavery OK, or right.)
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    People always get confused by this. It's why Lawful should really be called Order.

    Lawful doesn't mean "follows all the laws everywhere ever". It means you believe in a world view that relies on things like hierarchical authority.

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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Orc tribes may not have laws, but they have customs.

    In which case, when an orc tribe raids another one in the night and kidnaps some members, it would be a case of

    "Slavery is permitted by custom" in these societies, rather than "Slavery is legal in these societies"

    but the distinction matters little.
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    Default Re: Pathfinder: How views on Slavery influences character alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    People always get confused by this. It's why Lawful should really be called Order.

    Lawful doesn't mean "follows all the laws everywhere ever". It means you believe in a world view that relies on things like hierarchical authority.
    I don't really disagree, but in this case I was responding to the idea of slavery being "illegal captivity" by pointing out slavery can exist in places where it's not illegal, either because it's actively legal, or because there is no law.
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