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Playing evil for the first time

Discussion in 'Baldur's Gate (Classic)' started by Tharlok, Jan 9, 2010.

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    Based on the way Gary Gygax looks at law/chaos (based on deontological ethics), promoting order is usually a more significant act than promote reliability. So as long as Lawful Evil characters improve overall order in the universe, there is no reason why they can't be unreliable because they will still be lawful.

    What is my point? I personally don't consider the definitions in v. 3.5 of the manual to be very different from the ones used by Gygax i.e Keeping one's word might be placed under reliability, respect authority might be placed under order, honor traditions might be placed under principled, etc. Sure, they didn't use the word order explicitly but all of them still represent different subsets of order. And they never mentioned in the Player's Handbook that it wasn't possible for a lawful character to keep his word.

    - Player's Handbook v. 3.5

    I don't want to get into an argument with the alignment of the Joker (in The Dark Knight movie), but the Joker is basically a genius of evil (so even though he is insane, it is arguable he is quite aware of what he is doing). I don't quite understand why you believe insane characters shouldn't be aligned... Maybe you believe moral agents should be agent-focused when it comes to consequentialism. I am not sure...

    I am afraid it is not. What tells you that selflessness is better than altruism? What tells you that the ethic of reciprocity isn't better than altruism? Anyway, I mostly agree with your definition of good.


    Contrarily to the v. 3.5 Player's Handbook, you seem to believe Evil is based on attitude rather than actions.

    For some reason, Your definition of good is based on actions while your definition of evil is based on attitude. The system is not longer linear like in v. 3.5, I am not sure if it's a bad thing or not. :rolleyes:

    ...A trait of evil I believe based on attitude, not based on deontology or consequentialism like in 3rd edition. Based on deontology or consequentialism, your can still be the ambivalent True Neutral as long as the overall significance or consequences of your actions is True Neutral. But then, it's extremely hard if not impossible to know the alignment of complex characters.

    - Player's Handbook v. 3.5

    I would like to say that organization is necessarily related to alignment when it comes to deontology (while not necessarily significant) because judging by the act itself without looking at the consequences, it promotes lawfulness.

    ... Assuming the definitions are solely based on attitude.

    Based on 1E, I agree because then the neutral character would be allowed to be completely unrespectful of life to follow a specific goal (lawful neutral characters destroying life to reach order.). However, I believe that in 1E, Lawful neutral was just another form of Lawful evil except that the ultimate goal what to make everything predictable (also known as Lawful Stupid).

    This is a reason why I don't use the definitions of 1E, at times, it seems very difficuly if not impossible to know if a person believes individuality more desirable than society rules or vice-versa. I prefer to base myself on actions personally because I can avoid dealing with things such as good is respect for life, evil is no respect for life and neutral is ... somewhere in between ?!.



    Your definitions of Law/Chaos , and Evil seem to be based on attitude (1E d&d) while mine (and the v. 3.5) are based on actions.

    Very interesting :D . I believe we are both right on those definitions because they are based on different editions. Neither of us seem to be right or wrong. Just different ways of looking at the alignment.

    Alignment... not all that subjective? :skeptic:

    It would be difficult to determine the alignment of Batman for example. You mentionned he would tend to be between the LG/NG area, but some believe he is disruptive to society. Did you see the last Batman movie, when batman went to China, blasted a window in order to catch Lau the criminal. Batman also admits that he has only one single code of conduct (enough to make him lawful based on his attitude?). Methodical? Disturbing of society? Follows his conscience?

    http://api.ning.com/files/QA3eBKtlC...h59S*o87gHRHIixLuNmQppht/Batman_Alignment.jpg

    Look at how many different answers are posted on that forum

    http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=260840

    I don't want to argue the alignment of Batman by the way, since I didn't read the comics in order to know what kind of character he really is.

    - Dungeon Master's Guide (1E)

    - Dungeon Master's Guide (1E)

    Once again, i find your definitions to be similar. :spin:
     
  2. 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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    I tend to believe the 1st edition definitions to be better because, simply put, Gygax was a genius and most of those who have revised his works have done so with the sole goal of making it less complex. One of the beauties of the game was the complexity.

    BTW insanity was also covered just a few pages beyond those you quoted in the Dungeon Master's Guide -- insane characters do have an alignment, but their actions are dictated by their insanity and not their alignment. So the alignment of such a person is immaterial.
     
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  3. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    I'm not all that convinced that insanity and/or mental disorders automatically mask away your true alignment. Rather, some of them pretty much dictate it, at least in the eyes of an outside observer.

    Take for example Asperger's syndrome. Unless diagnosed, it's easy to get it mixed up with unempathetic, greedy, selfish, even aggressive and other decidedly 'evil' traits. I should know, I have one, and still remember the accusations I've faced during my lifetime clear as day. :p

    The only way I can function as law-abiding citizen today is by adhering to a strict code of rules of "society expected" human behaviour I've learned, some of them the hard way. So in essence, I'm actually masking away my "true" self, just because I've learned it makes things go smoother in general.

    But to play evil, all I really do is temporarily "forget" select parts of the expected code of conduct and let things sort themselves out.

    Now, for the big question: Am I really evil by default or does it require consentual, self-aware actions from me to qualify as one? :p
     
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    It's difficult to say that an edition is better than another because they are based on completely different things. It's like saying the orange is better than the banana. By saying that 1E alignment is better than 3.5E ,it is almost the same as saying Virtue ethics is better than deontological ethics.

    Wikipedia has excellent articles about them. Both have their strenght and weaknesses. All ethical theories seem to be very criticised (they all have holes). Look at the criticism section of each articles.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue_ethics
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics

    I have a pdf document on my computer, searched for a word containing the term "insane", didn't find anything. Couldn't find anything in the Player's Handbook either. Then I started reading the whole alignment section in the DMG and the closest thing I found to what you said was this :

    - Dungeons Master's Guide (1E)

    To me, this doesn't mean crazy characters should't be aligned. However, I think I understand what you mean and based on 1E d&d I agree, The Joker might be unaligned, but we don't know for sure the intents of the Joker when he does something; we could assume he doesn't really search to destroy (the hospital, hehe) and bring chaos (burning an outrageous amount of money to send a message). He might just follow his instinct without having specific goals in mind. But based on 3.5E d&d, which is primarily based on deontology, the Joker (in The Dark Knight movie) is (objectively under your respect unless proven that the joker is unaware of what is right or wrong) Chaotic Evil.

    You are aligned in edition 3.5, just as long as you are aware of what is right and what is wrong. But not necessarily as long as you have the intent to make a specific act (like in 1E).

    - Player's Handbook v. 3.5

    ---------- Added 0 hours, 3 minutes and 36 seconds later... ----------

    Based on 1E : unaligned : your character's intents are not evil
    Based on 3.5E : unaligned : if you were not aware what you were doing was wrong
     
  5. Caradhras

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

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    That's a big question indeed. :D

    Now, it seems to me that your big question could be linked to the nature vs nurture debate.

    In a D&D setting a Drow will probably be evil by default but there can be exceptions (a certain ranger that I won't mention by name or Viconia if you can get her to see that the way of her people are wrong). The problem in such a setting is that the existence of Good and Evil deities tend to emphasize the divide between good and evil. A Drow follower of Shar has no choice but to be evil whereas a Paladin of Torm has to be good. Even if that Paladin falls that doesn't necessarily make him or her evil (it takes a lot more than one mistake to go all the way from one extreme to the other).

    A common thief in 2E can't be LG but it doesn't mean that this thief has to be evil either.

    Another point that your big question raises is whether or not an individual is aware of being evil. A cleric of Bhaal is certainly aware that he or she is evil but a more mundane tyrant or an unscrupulous thief probably don't consider himself or herself to be evil. Especially if the character justifies his or her actions in a rational way. A tyrant who slaughters defenseless enemies could sincerely believe to be acting for the "greater good" and a murderous thief could sincerely believe that he or she has no choice in the matter (a "better them than me" mindset).

    I think that when you look at alignments we have to bear in mind that they are meant to be guidelines (what Gygax meant) and that common sense is what matters (not the various definitions in various editions of the game). In the original D&D there were only three alignments and the system worked.

    Using both the good vs evil axis and the law vs chaos axis shouldn't lead us to forget about what T2Bruno referred to as the "big picture"... Using big words and referring to philosophical notions such as teleological ethical theories and moral absolutism only makes the question more confusing. Judging a character's action you have to take into account both the character's intent and the consequences of the action. Good intents may result in bad things happening and that is why playing a good character can be interesting because it leads to moral dilemmas and a sense of guilt (which evil characters simply ignore). If a paladin deliberately does something that will have bad consequences he or she may fall but if that paladin had no idea that his or her actions would lead to such consequences it can be argued that he or she would have to take responsibility and assume the guilt (possibly having to work on redeeming himself or herself).

    Take Anomen for instance. The murder that makes him fall is based on his thirst for revenge but it is clearly the evil path. Killing an innocent doesn't make things right. Anomen knows it but he is willing to let the Bhaalspawn convince him that it is the thing he has to do. Later on Anomen won't accept responsibility and guilt for his actions, he won't seek atonement, on the contrary, he will challenge the authority of the Order thus definitely stepping away from the right path. If Anomen doesn't fail his test, his self righteousness that blinds him turns into a sense of righteousness that allows him to grow and to become LG instead.

    To refer to Batman again that's Harvey Dent/Two-Face. It's indeed insanity like T2Bruno clearly pointed out.

    A chaotic character can be unpredictable but in a sensible way. IMO a chaotic character will keep a free mind and have more options possibly changing his opinion about something thus adapting to the circumstances (that could apply for a neutral character as well) whereas a lawful character will have a hard time changing his or her allegiance (which doesn't mean it's impossible especially if we take into consideration a change of ruler that makes following the law of the realm impossible for a LG character). A LG character who would rebel because the new ruler is a tyrant would not change his or her alignment (something that has already been pointed out).
     
  6. 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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    I'm much more comfortable with 1st edition version of ethics because I believe actions can be controlled while intent cannot. Gygax understood that intent defines a person, that is the core of who the person is. Actions can be an extension of a value system or can mask what that person really is like. Often people will do things to project an image and not because they want to do it (such as volunteer work, I've known a lot of people who volunteer for the reputation it gives, not for the satisfaction of helping others). Hence, an action based value system is inherently flawed -- but it is less complex and easier to implement (especially on a computer).

    One of the advantages of pnp (and disadvantages at times) is the DM. There are very few classes which have any real alignment restrictions and a good DM can help guide an inexperieced player to meet those alignment requirements for those classes. All other classes the alignment is really secondary to having fun playing the game. In those cases the DM simply helps adjust the alignment of the character to suit the playing style of the individual player (I thought PST did a good job with this -- it would give several options, some of which also questioned intent).

    The problem is there are very few good DM's out there and so the system was perverted by those who did not understand (the classic examples are LG being forced to be played as lawful stupid and CE being murderous psychopaths). Such directions make the game less enjoyable.

    All this is more philosophical and IMO the easiest way to play an evil character is to simply make them very selfish and self-centered -- it's all about "what's in it for me" to the evil character. The PC can be an assassin-type character (or an actual assassin with the right mods) who kills for profit without being a psychopath.

    Aside: I looked through my DMG last night and found the section on mental disorders rather easily. Open your pdf to the table of contents -- it's listed shortly after the alignment section. In the D&D world insanity can be magically induced, a person who develops a disorder can either give in to it or fight it (as SR has done or through medication depending on the disorder); a magically induced disorder affects the character harshly and immediately. So given an magically induced disorder a paladin could become a psychopath with delusions of persecution -- and the character will become a crazed killer. The character is not evil, although they are committing decidedly evil acts, because they simply have no control (once again intent). The paladin may still fall even if healed, in campaigns I've run such a paladin (or ranger or non-evil cleric) would not necessarily fall but would be required to atone for their acts (depending on the deity, but LG deities are notorously rigid in their ethics).

    Edit: Caradhras posted while I was writing -- excellent post.
     
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    This is why even the alignment in 3rd edition d&d is not solely based on action, but primarily based as I mentioned earlier. You still got to be aware that the actions would be wrong.




    Even though it might be true, the rightness and wrongness of an intent can still be subjective.

    All ethical systems are inherently flawed, including virtue ethics.

    Resume of the different points regarding criticism of virtue ethics found in the article of wikipedia.

    1) The rightness and wrongness of the character of an individual. A problem not found in consequentialism.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue_ethics#Criticisms

    2) It does not indicate what actions are acceptable or inacceptable. A murderer. A murderer could kill (and be insane just like you said), and not be considered evil by a virtue ethicist.

    I would also like to add that it would be difficult if not impossible to know the character of each individuals in d&d. I could be an hermit living alone in the wilderness as a misanthrophe. I could be the most disgusting person that ever lived, but how would you know I am in fact a monster if I am not interacting with anybody? It doesn't even have to have anything do with that; what if I am a zealot, extremely selfish trying to save all individual there is out there (for self-gratification), but I wouldn't feel sorry if I killed an innocent. My character is evil based on virtue ethics (no respect for life), but yet the consequences of my actions are good. :rolling:

    There are many problems in consequentialism too and many problems in deontology. They are all flawed, there is no way around it, impossible...

    Arg! :bang:

    By the way, insane characters and other creatures who don't seem to have a desirable end for the universe are classified as True Neutral by the 1E definitions, which may also stand for immaterial as you mentioned.

    For sheer amusement, I would (if I were a Dungeon Master), classify each of the character's alignment according to 1E and 3.5E, to get the best of both worlds. :D

    It would be extremely interesting, geez I feel excited right now!

    Bye the way, keep up with the nice posts!
     
  8. 8people

    8people 8 is just another way of looking at infinite ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    [​IMG] Implying that Aspergers can define you as evil is simply absurd and also insluting to other Aspies on the board :rolleyes: knowing you have problems and simply expecting people to put up and shut up is the only inherent way that such a construction could be made. I've already drafted a post on the subject elsewhere so I shall spare continuing this here.

    I remember a 2ed suppliment that outlined (briefly) that characters at the mercy of insanity or unpredictable ailments were to be treated as CN, it's also mentioned in the IE games generally.

    Impulses could harm the character forcing him on a manner to perform acts he or she considers anethema or simply 'wrong' as a result good and evil aren't so much an obstacle for him for even if there is remorse there can be little room to alter the outcomes, of course there is room for veering towards good and evil, if one can control the urges more carefully, a murderous impulse could be contained be focusing on wicked and unwanted citizens - or towards children and pillars of the community - if one has the possibility of exerting a mediocum of control within a particular impulse. Someone who has the compulsion to kill people who are in a group of three may not have such a liberty.

    The chaos aspect comes from more the unreliability of an individual, one who cannoy promote a code he cannot adhere to and cannot always keep his word from his mental problems.
     
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    Yes, perhaps in 2E; but in in 3E, you need to be aware of what is right or wrong regarding the law/chaos axis. Insane characters would be True Neutral in 3E, and this is why...

    And I agree with you, it might not reflect the asperger's real character to tell other people to shut up. In virtue ethics, you base yourself on actions to define the type of character that person might be, but if that character isn't truly evil, than he cannot be classified as evil (it is not a true reflection of his heart, his desirable end for the universe and his character traits). Such actions would be, again, TN (unaligned).

    Thinking about the 3E edition again, the system is mostly based on deontology but also virtue ethics. That way you can fill the holes that were claimed by the other system (such as you need to be aware of what you are doing so that your true alignment evil for example). That way, actions cannot be malipulated as easily.

    Thank you for your post. 8people. :happy:
     
  10. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    I don't mean to imply that Asperger's necessarily makes one evil, just that the actions of one can easily seem such to an outsider observant. But in the absolute sense of it, it's not much different from, say, a mountain bear eating your precious pet dog, aka Neutral.
     
  11. Caradhras

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

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    At least you can write on a banana. :banana:

    On a more serious note, I think that you're focusing too much on various definitions. If we go back to the topic of playing evil for the first time in BG, it's rather straightforward.

    Playing evil in BG allows you to indulge in activities that are directly beneficial to your character (at least in the short term) instead of going for goody quests for which you get no rewards. It also allows you to be creative, picking dialogue options that are insincere, callous or make fun of NPCs. It's something I've tried to do in my playthrough (No Rest for the Wicked).

    In BG you're pretty much on your own and although you have a lot of things to do (and people to kill) before defeating Sarevok, you can still have some fun before getting there.

    Why is playing evil so much fun? It may have to do with the fact that you don't have to follow the regular course of action and that you can do things without thinking about consequences. It's irresponsible and selfish for a character to act that way. It doesn't mean senselessly killing every sentient being on your path though (you already get to kill many many foes anyway).

    BG1 (and 2) is all about the inner struggle between Good and Evil in the main character's soul. Playing evil doesn't mean giving away although it may seem like it. An evil character who does not consider himself or herself to be evil will have a hard time reconciling the fact that Bhaal's essence is about to destroy him or her. It may be even easier for a good character who knows that his or her holiness can act as a shield. An evil character doesn't have that reassurance. It was one of the reasons my Jester had for keeping Jaheira around. She served as a sort of anchor for him, giving him a moral compass that would allow him to keep some sense of reality when confronting the power that giving in to Bhaal's essence within meant.

    For instance a truly evil character like Bassilus has lost any sense of reality, of moral consciousness and is therefore the pawn of an evil deity.

    In the end it's all a matter of choices. How is your evil character going to handle the Kirinhale situation? How is such a character going to rescue Melicamp? Or help the helpless miners? Deal with a bereft Tymora priest? Or noblewomen from Amn? And useless cows?

    What I mean is that alignment do matter to a certain extent but it shouldn't be the tree that conceals the forest. The way you're going to play an evil character in BG has more to do with the choices you'll never make as a goody two shoes because society will frown on these actions (reputation loss) or because you know that doing so you will forget about the reward that you may otherwise get (foreknowledge).

    In the end playing evil is about playing the game differently in ways that makes situations ironic and at times funnier than in a regular playthrough in which you get stuck at 20 points in reputation early on.

    It's also about integrity, when you play a good character you will probably not go out of your way to find a justification to kill Firebead Elvenhair (unless your good character is in fact a rotten bastard and you just want the loot and the XP) but it doesn't mean that when playing an evil character you don't have to come up with an explanation for getting into a fight with a good natured mage. Getting caught red handed while stealing works nicely though.
     
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    The alignment in baldur's gate is based on 2E, thus, Lawful Neutral can be Lawful Stupid for example. So, even a lawful neutral character in BG can justify a kill if it promotes order.

    Yes, you are right Caradhras, I am focusing too much on the various ethical theories and definitions. I believe the reason why they didn't implement a system to make alignment changes is because it is not feasable based on 1E and 2E(very different from 3E). For example, as a lawful neutral character based on 2E, could be a benefactor 75% of the time and still be considered LN because the desirable end (ethos) for the universe is absoloute order without regard to good/evil. Hence, it should not be allowed to create mods to change the alignment based on actions like I once suggested for the Virtue Mod!

    Playing BG as evil is great. A thing you can do at the prologue is get inside the barrack where there are watchers. Kill one of them, go get your rep back to 8. Force a lock, summon 2 more guards, kill another one of them(this will put your rep at 6, the lowest before getting attacked by the flaming fist contrarily to what Dan Simpson said in his guide (above 6)), sell the plate mails. Repeat the process until you don't have enough money to get your rep back to 8. Then stop. Just a reminder, it costs 200 gold pieces at 6 rep to get your rep to 7 and 100 to get your rep from 7 to 8. After killing Firebead and get his money, I believe you can only kill up to 3 guards before your money runs out.
     
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    Whoah. A pretty clever trick. I will have to try it myself, should my tempus finally stop fugiting.

    As for playing evil - it is great. A very... liberating experience :D, especially for those tired of the 'black and white' D&D morality. My first 'evil' playthrough was a little difficult (as I had not known the low reputation effects) - I remember running like hell from Nashkel to avoid the Amnian arrows, foraging the woods for enough gold to pay the priests and become 'disliked' again and being really surprised with how the thieves helped... Those where the good old days.;)

    In most cases, my evil Bhaalspawns would take Kagain, Shar - Teel, Viconia, Eldoth and Montaron (alas, poor Xzar) along with them.
     
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    I've always restrainded from putting a magic missile down Nigglers throat, but alas poor Xzar always ends up with the girdle of femininity/masculinity. And being a Bhaalspawn I will pick a fight to releave adventures of magic items. :)
     
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