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good and evil

Discussion in 'BG2: Shadows of Amn (Classic)' started by schwartr, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    ...because it's a fantasy-based game. Anything can be rationalized when in a fantasy ... or in politics.
     
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    Thoughtful points all. We could probably keep debating it back and forth.

    I wanted to mention that the Shadow Thieves are an evil organization. Even if the current leader is neutral in alignment plenty of the higher ups (such as Renal or the various priests of Mask), members of, and general practices of the Shadow Thieves are evil. Have they stopped stealing, killing, and possibly engaging in slavery (note you have that option if you take the stronghold for a thief)? The answer appears to be no. If Aran was somehow trying to reform the Shadow Thieves into an organization that didn't do these things the case for a paladin feeling obligated to working with him would be stronger. But as it stands it doesn't look to be that way-thus chapter 3 is still a choice between 2 evils and a paladin should be unhappy working with either.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2008
  3. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    Unhappy, that's a fact. But Bodhi would be the worst choice for any paladin. Having to choose between regular evil and supernatural evil, I think the paladin would opt for the more mundane option, albeit reluctanctly.

    One thing I can hardly picture is a paladin doing the Thief's Stronghold quest. But that's just me and I won't dispute that in a fantasy game it's always possible to find reasons for doing almost anything.
     
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    Actually I just thought of the fact that it is a game leading to one other point. It provides you with no non-evil path through chapter 3. A paladin would choose to work with neither the Shadow Thieves nor Bodhi, but this means you don't finish the game (without cheating to jump areas). Thus the game forces you to pick an evil without a good or neutral option.

    I know it is a bit of metagaming (knowing the plot before you do something related to it), but I usually choose to support Bodhi because I know I will fight her later and this is a way of fighting both over time.

    One of the problems presented by refusing to work for Renal (whom a paladin would likely try to arrest) is this means Mae'Var, who is recognized for his cruelty and evil, goes unchecked. If you have a method of defeating the assassin with unlimited hitpoints and a blade that kills with one strike you can refuse and fight Edwin when he sends you after the CW that was an earlier point of contention. Then you can act against Mae'Var too (and forgo a reward Renal gives you if you do as the game encourages you to). But you are never given the option of fighting Mae'Var without agreeing to work for Renal-please correct me if I'm wrong (such as if you can sneak in through the backdoor).
     
  5. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    A paladin wouldn't accept it but that is the point. In order to rescue Imoen such a deal has to be made. There is no other choice. Being forced into making compromise is a great source of dramatic tension for a character with morals, it's a great thing to RP.

    By the way I don't think paladins are meant to arrest the Shadow Thieves who are a major power group in Amn. Athkatla is a festering pit of corruption, the knights of the Radiant Heart do what they can to do good deeds but it doesn't look like they could radically change Amnish society (otherwise they would have done it). Thus the discrepancy that exists between the slums or the docks and the government district. Not to mention the renegades in the bridge district being proof that the Order has problems of its own.

    Now that I've mentioned the Bridge district, it's stricking that the Order must actually lack the manpower to deal with whoever is responsible for the killings there. After all that should be part of their mission, protecting the weak and the destitute.

    Let's face it, in a city run by powerful merchants bent on making the most profit by whatever means necessary, the paladins of the Radiant Heart can't make a real difference unless they totally disrupt the power system and thus cause chaos and disarray. Lawful change may come but it seems rather unlikely. Athkatla is a place of iniquity where the rich can use magic and the poor have to fend out for themselves as outlaws and face the Cowled Wizards if they break the law.

    If we take into account all these points it seems pretty obvious that the only thing left for paladins is to try and uphold goodness and justice within these limits.
     
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    Your point about the renegades does show how the Radiant Heart has problems to deal with already is somewhat true. I think they still manage to come up with troops when there is a notable crisis.

    I believe the sometimes corrupt city guard is already looking into the bridge district killings so the Order may have felt it was being handled. Your comment about the weak and destitute is correct and made me think of one of Keldorn's best moments (IMO) when he b****es out the guard that comes to arrest a beggar asking you for money by the government building.

    You are right about the merchants and the inequality, magic use being restricted to the wealthy. That may lead more to the corruption as If you try to sleep outside of an inn or cast a shield spell without bribing someone is likely on the case, but thieves guilds running amok or mugging attempts in broad daylight aren't looked into. Nor are nobles doing power plays in the hinterlands held back. But that may bring me back to an earlier comment about cutting down on crime in the city by what your party does and you do have the option of trying (if you are heroic) to do what you can.
     
  7. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    That's an heroic/epic perspective indeed and the only fault I'm going to find is that you can't expect a small party of 6 heroes to rid the city of all its criminals no matter what. Nevertheless I do agree that it's possible to make a difference at least for a few weeks. When the party is going to leave Athkatla there is no reason why things won't go back to what they were before.

    I completely forgot the Harpers by the way but they act on a more secret level. Xzar is clearly a threat.

    Cowled Wizards aren't necessarily evil since rogue mages like Edwin who after all is a Red Wizard can be a threat as well. After all Edwin is in Athkatla to find the Nether Scroll. Even if a good aligned party included Edwin it would be very doubtful that they would let him keep the scroll. What if Edwin had succeeded in his attempt with the scroll? That's not the kind of chances a good aligned PC should take (unless he or she didn't realize what Edwin was up to of course).

    Then there is the clergy. The followers of Helm are pretty active but they seem to limit themselves to facing the new cult. I don't remember much about the followers of Lathander and their involvement but I really liked how the temples of Ilmater represented havens or sanctuaries for the poor and the bereft in the city of the coin.
     
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    Is that not what you need to do with Saravok in BG1? Granted, he had already attacked you so it was self-defense, but what about other quests where you seek to "bring so-and-so to justice" such as Neb or the Tanner in the Bridge District? I suppose Saravok wasn't the best choice, nor would mentioning Baron Ployer, but what about going after the Slavers with the intention of murdering them? True, you are also going to free the slaves, but you are still breaking into their house/ship.

    My point is that the actions themselves aren't necessarily against a good alignment, just the reasons behind the actions. Same as the police. What is the difference between the police raiding a drug dealer's house, confiscating the cash he recieved from the drugs he sold and dragging him off to jail where he is held until somebody posts bond, and a kidnapper who breaks into somebody's house, steals any cash they find and holds the person for a ransome? Both the police officer and the home invader have performed exactly the same actions, but one is "legitimate" and for a good purpose, and the other is illegal and evil.
     
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    When you say the reason behind the action you are making point contrary to what you are intending (I believe). Breaking into someones house to murder them because an evil member of an evil organization wants you to is probably not the "Goodest" ;) action. In the tanner's case you were asked by the guard to solve the mystery, and the clues pointed towards talking to the tanner. When it turns out that the tanner is the killer, it becomes your duty (as designated by the guard) to prevent his escape, and in this case it means killing him. In Baron Ployer's example he curses a member toward their death and you track him down to reverse the curse, not necessarily kill him.

    All in all, I would say that without significant stretching of reason it is hard to argue that breaking into a house to kill a man on the command of an evil member of an evil guild is positive action. Sure you can justify it by saying you are helping prevent future evil by siding with the "less-evil" of the two leaders. However, upon accepting the quest, that is hardly apparent, and would require significant meta-gaming to justify that conclusion... which isn't even clearly supported WITH meta-gaming. If you are trying to have a role-playing experience as, say a Paladin, I would not be able to justify the thieves guild quest.

    I might as well add that I do the quest every time for the experience... and make those stretches of reasoning to justify it :p
     
  10. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    The Cowled Wizards took Imoen. You have a chance to talk one-on-one with a member of that obviously evil guild of mages and try to find out more about Imoen and how to get to her. What hero type wouldn't jump at the opportunity? That Edwin sent you is entirely immaterial.
     
  11. countduckula Banned

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    I didn't find Keldorn's attitudes reasonable or very 'decent'. A Keldorn-Edwin banter also suggests that paladins do tend to behave like inquisitors, engaging in borderline persecution to enforce their rigid and sometimes arbitrary set of morals. I suppose that's what happens when 'Good' is 'Lawful'. Coercion is usually necessary in order to enforce a set of laws and edicts.

    Edit: Ahh, I found the relevant banter. Apparently Edwin is referring to the Order of the Radiant Heart, to which Keldorn belongs (?)

    Edwin's comment that "Their intolerance against those who are not of a ‘civilized’ species is racism at its worst." is vindicated by Keldorn's behaviour towards Viconia, yes?

    I don't agree with that.

    I agree with that, though.

    Again, I agree. And as you mentioned, killing Aran would simply create a power vacuum, which a potential nutcase like Maever might fill.

    You enter his house forcibly and kill his servants. He tells you to leave and you don't. He has every right to use force to remove you.

    ---------- Added 0 hours, 42 minutes and 40 seconds later... ----------

    What's even more striking is that it's the *fallen* paladins who make an honest attempt to stop crime in the Bridge district.
     
  12. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    I don't get the "obviously"... I never thought their organization was really evil, I saw them as being more neutral (even LN, being a law enforcement organization).
     
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    3 points.

    It is thoughtful that Edwin points out racism, however he of all people has little room to point fingers when it comes to killing people or one group looking down on another.

    Killing Aran isn't just killing Aran alone. It is going through a large number of Shadow Thieves and disrupting their organization. A point made about the Shadow Thieves earlier is that they are an evil organization. Worrying about the power vacuum isn't unreasonable (and serves as encouragement to take out Mae'Var and Renal as well), but doesn't recognize the fact that a lawful and good person wouldn't embrace the existence of the organization-a city free of thieves guilds would likely be praised. And if there had to be one in a city it would likely be better if it was one that didn't do some of the things the Shadow Thieves do.

    The problem with the fallen paladins isn't that they were fighting crime (which is exactly what the 2nd in command, Reynald, thought they were doing). It is that they were fighting over territory in which to commit crimes such as deal in slavery-which a number of the corrupt in this game seem to do. If they just fought crime they may not have been the problem for the Radiant Heart that they were. It is that they don't that is the problem (and that they are willing to do a dishonorable thing by unwarrentedly attacking you is why Reynald leaves them-as he didn't realize they were doing evil things in addition to fighting smugglers).

    Caradhras, it is easy to see the Cowled Wizards as Lawful Neutral. But there is an argument for it being viewed as Lawful Evil. The Cowled Wizards enforce an unjust bias against mages in the area and do not provide any exception for the reasons one may have used magic (such as fighting for his/her life against a group of muggers), and I suspect they don't bother to revoke licenses of those who just fireball harmless peasants in the streets (I don't think I've ever done this but it seems likely they wouldn't). Also a great many of the Cowled Ones you come across have evil alignments, which begs the question of if something is wrong in the organization. Last, in function they also serve to create a divide between rich (can bribe) and poor (cannot afford it) in opportunities. An argument can made about the CWs each way.
     
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    I was sensing some sarcasm from T2 there... Maybe I'm wrong though.
     
  15. countduckula Banned

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    So? The fact that Edwin is also a racist scumbag doesn't invalidate his observations.

    And it's not *just* Edwin's word I'm going on. Keldorn, a seasoned veteran and upstanding member of the Order of the Radiant Heart, seems to harbour some prejudices. Anomen is pretty bigoted, but he's accepted into the Order regardless.
     
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    They may not invalidate them but it is an irony that while he accuses the Radiant Heart of being hypocrites he is one as well (at least as bad). And while the Radiant Heart may indeed have some biases often it appears to end up in fights with others that are actively doing harm (such as the 1st paladin stronghold quest or fighting Bodhi). So it isn't like they are wondering the streets slaughtering the helpless and it is much easier to argue that if those who are a target for the Radiant Heart weren't making trouble for others they would likely be left alone themselves. Are the frequent invasions conducted by the Red Wizards (which Edwin is a member of-and any of his loss in standing doesn't appear to be due to a goodly reason such as having too much mercy) primarily against those who attack others, as it is generally with the Radiant Heart, or against those they view as potential victims to be exploited for an ambition?

    And Anomen, unlike Keldorn, mostly seems to be a jerk in general-not so much a bigoted person. Keldorn has his problems with Viccy but they are colored by the portrayed cruelty drow actively carry out on others. Also it could be argued that he should look beyond that she is drow to her as an individual, but her worship of Shar (an evil god in the Forgotten Realms fantasy world) doesn't help matters there.


    One thing about racism and fantasy is perhaps a deeper issue. It often describes various races as evil or good as a whole and is thus more excepting of racism (and perhaps other bigotry) in idea form. As D&D (or other fantasy) related games have plots that encourage you to interact with multiple groups/individuals you can see where this is challenged or embraced. One of the things that makes me more hopeful for D&D is that it tries to relate more to beings as individuals. Though it didn't drop the foolish racial character class restrictions (such as perfectly intelligent halflings not being able to be mages) in time for this game it did in the 3.0 pen & paper version. So I think there is general progress or attempts thereat.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008
  17. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Count: You're actually going to take Edwin's word about anything? Intolerance against species that are not 'civilized' has a wide range of possibilities. OMG we are wiping out the trolls! We must be racists (specists?)! In the case of the drow, there is a race who desired domination of all other races -- the goal is to either destroy or enslave any who get in their way. Clearly not a "good" race and one that must be stopped from their stated goals. Unfortunately, fighting men and women often cannot separate the goals of a race (or nation) from the members of that race or nation (a topic best left on the alleys) -- Keldorn shows this weakness. While such weakness should not be acceptable it is understandable.

    The Cowled Wizards took Imoen without an investigation and imprisoned her without trial. This violates basic human rights which is a trademark of an evil organization. My paladin viewed them as an evil organization to be brought down -- why else would he violate their laws and break Imoen out of Spellhold? One less CW (actually a few less after Valygar's quest) is not a bad thing for the overall good of Amn. I didn't get a rep hit for killing any of them, so the Bioware paladin Gods must agree with me. QED.
     
  18. countduckula Banned

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    I'm not taking 'his word' on anything. Remember, his statement has been vindicated by the bigoted behaviour of Keldorn and Anomen, who are both members of the Order of the Radiant Heart.

    Indeed. Human barbarians, fey races, short folk, dark elves.

    If you are wiping out trolls simply because they were born trolls, and not because they are killing and eating people, then yes, you *are* racist. The same applies for orcs, goblins, kobolds, and drow.

    Not all drow wish to destroy and enslave other races. Viconia is just minding her own business when Keldorn picks a fight with her.

    Ironically, Keldorn has no problem with Korgan, who brags about all the raping, pillaging and butchering he has done in the past.

    Understandable for an ordinary human soldier? Sure. Understandable from an evil ******* like Edwin? Absolutely. Understandable for a holier-than-thou *veteran paladin*, who by rights should be above such petty prejudices? No. If you are willing to skewer someone simply because of the colour of your skin, then you can't make the claim to being all righteous and just.

    Keldorn was quite happy with Viconia being burned at the stake without her having received an investigation or fair trial. The knights of the Radiant Order weren't willing to give the monsters (actually the PC) who were 'terrorising' Firkragg's domain a fair trial. They didn't give Firkragg a fair trial.

    The difference between the above, and the Cowled Wizards taking Imoeon captive, is that they arrested Imoen because she broke the law.
    Viconia did not break the law, she was simply wandering about Amn.
    Your party did not break the law, they were simply wandering about Firkagg's lands.
    And the paladins did not want you to slay Firkagg because he had dispossessed the previous landholder, they wanted you to kill him because he was in the possession of a magical sword, which is hardly a crime.

    So you admit that the Order of the Radiant Heart is an evil organisation?
     
  19. pplr Gems: 18/31
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    I noticed you didn't reply to my post. You brought up decent points but I think I already addressed some of them.

    Anomen isn't bigoted so much as just plain arrogant and annoying. If you are going to point to characters' problems then you should be more accurate about it, not confusing the 2.


    There is a shortage of barbarians of any race (let alone human) in SoA. Saying that the Radiant Heart is after them is an assumption on your part.... and we have been talking about biases here. Also I haven't seen problems between Keldorn and either fey races or short folk-leading me to wonder if this is your assumption again. Dark elves.... yes he is bigoted there, but reasons for that have already been brought up in my last post. Perhaps you are confusing D&D paladins with Warhammer 40k space marines-both style themselves as a type of knight, but only large numbers of the latter pledge to wipe out all non-humans (part of why 40k can be thought of as having a dark or twisted society/universe).


    You are totally correct. Though you should recognize that said groups (and the deities they mainly obey) want to do exactly what you point out as a racist practice to everyone else. If they didn't they likely wouldn't have ended up on the Radiant Heart's list of bad guys in the first place.

    You are technically correct, but generally misleading. Viccy is trying to get by and what you refer to is evidence of bigotry on Keldorn's part. On the other hand she hasn't renounced evil as she has simply moved from following one evil (Lolth) to another (Shar). If Keldorn was against all drow just for the sake of being drow he would also want to fight Drizzt when you come across him prior to fighting Bodhi-instead he is happy to meet him (note that Drizzt is different from Viccy in that he is a drow who actually has renounced evil as a whole, though in his case it is closer to denounce rather than renounce as he never really signed on for evil acts).


    You are correct, and there should have been a point where the 2 at least argued sooner or later.

    See above. And even then note that heros are still human (or some other type of flawed sentient being).

    On the part about burning at the stake, you are correct. On the knights that fight with the PC you are ignoring the point that they were tricked, not only by the illusions but by the claims (which could be argued to be the closest thing one gets to eye witnesses accounts in this situation) about the supposed monsters (PC in reality). They should have talked with you when you tried to do so with them, but they already thought they were provided with evidence-it was that it was false that is the problem. About Firkragg, I suggest you try to arrest a dragon and let us know how it goes (sorry, but I had to slip that one in). More seriously, both you and Garren Windspear serve as witnesses against Firkragg and arguably provide daming evidence. The fact that you fight Firkragg after you rescue Garren's child from his minions highlights Firkragg's guilt in criminal activity-activity that has already gotten people killed by Firkragg's design and desire.


    If the law is actually just then where is the exception for self-defense? Irenicus had already kidnapped and tortured her in addition to killing her friends and gave no indication he would stop when your party appears to be escaping. I think he even informed her that he had no intention of letting her leave. The actions of the Cowled Wizards at that point show how a law can be made and acted upon without any regard to justice. And it doesn't help matters that the law was written out of anti-magic bigotry in the first place.

    You are correct in that she hadn't directly done anything that would justify those who wanted to burn her at the stake grabbing her. But I think I already mentioned additional points above.


    This isn't an accurate representation of the situation (and you are probably smart enough to know that). Your party was framed as were the paladins your party may have fought, for more detail see points above.


    Also not an accurate representation of the situation. Yes they want you to get the sword from him, but they only send you out against him after he has actively done a number of evil/criminal acts which included conspiring to murder some of their knights. If the members of the Radiant Heart wanted you to attack others just to bring back magic weapons then they would have sent you out against others who haven't done harm as well-but they don't.

    Would this be a biased POV against the Radiant Heart rather than an actual evaluation as to if they are really evil or not? Perhaps you want us to really think about if their actions are actually justified or not, but that statement seems strong enough and some of the depictions of the events inaccurate enough that I wonder if that is the case.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2008
  20. countduckula Banned

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    He tells Mazzy that halflings are a lowly race who aren't fit to be paladins. The fact that non-humans can't become paladins, no matter how 'good' they are, is also very telling.

    So now having particular religious beliefs justifies a paladin skewering you?

    Ergo: In order for a drow to avoid being skewered by Keldorn, all they need to do is perform so many good deeds that they become renowned as a hero. Does Keldorn apply that same standard to elves, dwarves, or even his fellow humans? I don't think so. *sniff sniff* I smell prejudice!

    But they didn't. Instead, Keldorn seemed completely enamoured with Korgan, a dwarf who openly boasted about his cruel and sadistic exploits. If Korgan had been a drow, I wonder what Keldorn's reaction would have been to his boasts?

    I'm always correct. :D

    There was no evidence, no investigation. But let's assume there was. They should have at least given you the opportunity to surrender, and the right to a fair trial. Why didn't they? Oh, because your party looked like 'monsters'. *sniff sniff* Do I smell prejudice? And don't try claiming that all ogres are bad-eggs, because in the same game some are willing to live at peace with the humans in Umar Hills.

    But the paladins don't send you to kill Firkragg because he stole land or kidnapped children. They send you because they want you to retrieve the Holy Avenger. They want you to murder Firkragg in his own domain over a *sword*. That's no different than O.J killing pawn shop attenders in order to retrieve his memorabilia.

    There is no exception. I'm sorry that the law sucks, but the Cowled Wizards were just upholding it. What law was Keldorn upholding when he attacked Viconia? Why did he fail to uphold justice when she was getting burnt at the stake without being given a trial?

    At least it's less arbitrary than attacking someone because you don't like them. The Cowled Wizards abducted Imoen because she broke the law. The paladins attacked your party because they looked monstrous.
     
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