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Is cannibalism evil?


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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The Exchange *** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington D.C. aka Grolick

I have a few things that come to mind on this topic, some of them a little more salient than others?

Are the people really dead? In most PFS games, once someone drops, we move on to another target. Often, but not always, the person is merely in the negatives and not dead yet. Are the GM's actually tracking the HP of these people, or are they assumed dead? There's a big difference here, as he might actually be killing people that should be possibly turned over to authorities or some such. Certainly Lawful characters will have an issue with that.

This raises something that bothers me about people's PC's. Why do I encounter so many people who want to play "Evil" characters, but be part of PFS? I play a necromancer, and he IS from Ustalav, so his perceptions of undead are different than others, but he's still yet to actively control/summon/create undead. He just uses primarily necromantic spells. But I've played with others who do raise dead bodies, pretend to be clerics of evil deities, etc. I find that strange.


Cannabalism is not in itself evil. But most thinking creatures probably find it repugnant. The fact is even orcs don't like the orc tribes that practice it. That said its probably less vile than one of your companions animating corpses. If the player is being unnecessarily graphic that's. A different issue.

Hungry Storm:
our group encountered the cannibal village last week. My chaotic good 17 year old Magus puked in front of them. Som one calmed the tribe down and we did not get any info


Stormfriend wrote:
J. Christopher Harris wrote:
.If we can't attack a party member then shouldn't we also avoid behavior that practically begs for violent intervention?
No, we should avoid playing characters who's solution to a minor infraction of their moral code is 'violent intervention'. It's not the character eating the body that looks extreme in your example, it's your character's response.

Riiiight, because most of us are playing characters who reserve their violent problem solving to the procurement of material objects from others, but react like cultural anthropologists doing fieldwork when confronted with things that offend our sense of right and wrong.

Wrong. A minor infraction would be insulting people, or I don't know, streaking down the alley, or sophomoric behavior. Eating a dead guy would fall into the 'major' category, assuming I don't just think your ghoul fever peaked or something.

** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Grolick wrote:
Why do I encounter so many people who want to play "Evil" characters, but be part of PFS?

Define evil. We're playing a game set in a brutal medieval society where torture and slavery are common and some of the biggest civilisations are utterly corrupt and/or devil worshippers. Taking a modern 20th century view of justice and morality makes no sense at all. I'm reading Game of Thrones at the moment, which is comparable in terms of the society it describes, and where even the noble knights engage in activity that I can't repeat on a family friendly messageboard.

The Society itself is True Neutral, so there may be as many evil members as good members. So long as they obey the Society's rules the people in charge don't really care what the moral compass of their members is. What they do care about is that we all cooperate and get the job done without bringing the Society into disrepute. That means a paladin who turns fellow Pathfinders over to the authorities is more of a problem than a cannibal, so long as the cannibal isn't too obvious. PFS characters aren't supposed to be the 'good guys'. We're grave robbers.

The PFS guidelines state no evil characters, but I suspect that's more for group harmony than anything else. I've found it's actually the Lawful characters that cause the most dissent though. The 'Evil' characters are usually easy to get on with, unburdoned by morality as they are.

And most of my characters are Good. They knew they might be travelling with less salubrious members when they signed up, so they can't exactly complain when they get lumped with worshippers of Asmodeus. That's just the way it is. The only reason I've not started playing my Crusader of Rovagug is because her obsession with destruction seems counter to the Pathfinder's obsession with preservation. It has nothing to do with Good/Evil.

**

"Donner, party of six, your table is now ready! Donner, party of six!..... Donner, party of five, your table is now ready..."

The Exchange *** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington D.C. aka Grolick

Stormfriend wrote:
Grolick wrote:
Why do I encounter so many people who want to play "Evil" characters, but be part of PFS?
Define evil.

You're right about the violent/brutal times. I embrace that. But people who want to be undead lords, or other undead things, for example, is pretty patently evil in Pathfinder. And then there are the people, sort of like the cannibal person, who go out of their way to do really uncalled for things. Thankfully, it's not a HUGE number of people I see doing it, but I do certainly see it.

** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Grolick wrote:
Stormfriend wrote:
Grolick wrote:
Why do I encounter so many people who want to play "Evil" characters, but be part of PFS?
Define evil.
You're right about the violent/brutal times. I embrace that. But people who want to be undead lords, or other undead things, for example, is pretty patently evil in Pathfinder. And then there are the people, sort of like the cannibal person, who go out of their way to do really uncalled for things. Thankfully, it's not a HUGE number of people I see doing it, but I do certainly see it.

I would have played an Undead Lord were it not for all the people complaining, and threatening to make me leave their table (on these boards, I never actually created the character in the end). She would have turned to a Death god to get her brother back (as a bloody skeleton unfortunately), who would then defend her. Consorting dangerously with evil magic, for sure, but no more evil than most other people. She would have detected as evil as the taint grew and infused her brother with ever more power, but she would have been a solid Pathfinder, reliable and trustworthy. Handy with swarms too. :-) Sadly she'll never see daylight now as everyone stereotyped them.

As for players trying to hog the limelight, that's a player issue. If it wasn't cannibalism it would just be something else instead. There are likely to be just as many of those people playing Paladins as cannibals.

Maybe Paizo should set up an Aspis Consortium Society and we can all take an approach to adventuring that leaves as many bodies on the ground as possible, then frame the Pathfinders for the carnage? I suspect there'll still be people complaining about evil characters in that game too!

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Austin aka Pegastar

I would like to add that the player the OP mentioned at the beginning of this thread, last night, declared that he was going to eat the "still beating heart of the enemy while he was still alive" making clear that he was not waiting for the enemies to be killed in combat, but to kill them by eating them.

Plus I find it strange that he does this with every enemy he kills. I would be more okay with it if he just ate the "boss" but he insists on spending time eating EVERY enemy we encounter.

In my book, this person's particular actions are evil. (And I seem to end up at the same table as this guy too often.) In game, most of us just ignore him. I am not sure how the other GMs handle his character, but I think for the most part he is seeking a reaction from people and ignoring him does get him to quiet down a bit.

***

Because "alignment" in the Pathfinder universe actually manifests as spell effects, the existence of outer planes, and the outsiders and divine beings which inhabit those planes, there IS "objective evil".

In other words, the argument of cultural relativism ("well, this particular tribe *honor* their dead via cannibalism, so for *them* it's not evil) doesn't really work. Cannibalism is either evil or it's not, and since the latter is just not tenable (certainly not from the basically Eurocentric, Judeo-Christian fantasy ethos which informs Golarion's fictional culture), it must be objectively evil.

There's a reason cannibalism tends to be a taboo - it involves *killing people* (they are easier to eat that way), and that's pretty much universally condemned as evil outside of unusual circumstances (like defending oneself in war).

Of course, literature is filled with the moral ambiguities encountered when trying to define an act as being objectively ("always on") evil - the theft of bread in "Les Miserables" is the classic example - but those fictional worlds don't have evil gods, living in evil planes of existence, which are strengthened (or whatever) by the act. In a universe with supernatural evil, stealing is *always* evil, even MORE so when it's a perversion of "innocent intent" (I need to feed my child!) THAT is objective evil.

In Golarion, I might be driven by necessity or permitted by ignorant culture (Orcs) to consume my brethren, but a demon is laughing about it *somewhere*, and that makes it evil, unarguably.

Dark Archive ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Pegastar wrote:

I would like to add that the player the OP mentioned at the beginning of this thread, last night, declared that he was going to eat the "still beating heart of the enemy while he was still alive" making clear that he was not waiting for the enemies to be killed in combat, but to kill them by eating them.

Plus I find it strange that he does this with every enemy he kills. I would be more okay with it if he just ate the "boss" but he insists on spending time eating EVERY enemy we encounter.

In my book, this person's particular actions are evil. (And I seem to end up at the same table as this guy too often.) In game, most of us just ignore him. I am not sure how the other GMs handle his character, but I think for the most part he is seeking a reaction from people and ignoring him does get him to quiet down a bit.

Since by the rules one only needs to eat once per day, that a humanoid body provides more than one-day's worth of food, and that he is receiving no mechanical benefit for eating someone every encounter... yeah... talk to your local VL/VC; try to talk to the player about this behavior outside of the table; and if he continues being this extravagant, give him a warning about his alignment

The Exchange ***

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Justin Riddler wrote:


Since by the rules one only needs to eat once per day, that a humanoid body provides more than one-day's worth of food, and that he is receiving no mechanical benefit for eating someone every encounter... yeah... talk to your local VL/VC; try to talk to the player about this behavior outside of the table; and if he continues being this extravagant, give him a warning about his alignment

Actually, give him penalties to Dex and Con for being so overweight. And maybe sleepy too after such a large meal.

Dark Archive *

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Belafon wrote:
Justin Riddler wrote:


Since by the rules one only needs to eat once per day, that a humanoid body provides more than one-day's worth of food, and that he is receiving no mechanical benefit for eating someone every encounter... yeah... talk to your local VL/VC; try to talk to the player about this behavior outside of the table; and if he continues being this extravagant, give him a warning about his alignment
Actually, give him penalties to Dex and Con for being so overweight. And maybe sleepy too after such a large meal.

And if he eats one too many corrupt nobles, I think it's time for Fortitude Saves vs. Type II Diabetes.

** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

David Haller wrote:

Cannibalism is either evil or it's not, and since the latter is just not tenable (certainly not from the basically Eurocentric, Judeo-Christian fantasy ethos which informs Golarion's fictional culture), it must be objectively evil.

There's a reason cannibalism tends to be a taboo - it involves *killing people* (they are easier to eat that way), and that's pretty much universally condemned as evil outside of unusual circumstances (like defending oneself in war).

Can I just say: the crusades, the spanish inquisition, witch burning; all belong in the Eurocentric, Judeo-Christian fantasy ethos. I find those to be more evil than cannibalism, but they were sanctioned by God so must be objectively Good. They required killing people too, so killing people must be objectively Good, even if they were helpless prisoners (to cross-post slightly).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Stormfriend wrote:
Can I just say: the crusades, the spanish inquisition, witch burning; all belong in the Eurocentric, Judeo-Christian fantasy ethos. I find those to be more evil than cannibalism, but they were sanctioned by God so must be objectively Good. They required killing people too, so killing people must be objectively Good, even if they were helpless prisoners (to cross-post slightly).

Ah, but this implies that the 'God' you are referring to is Good to begin with.


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Killing someone to eat then is evil. Eating someone you killed is pretty dark, but I still in that grey area.

** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Midnight_Angel wrote:
Stormfriend wrote:
Can I just say: the crusades, the spanish inquisition, witch burning; all belong in the Eurocentric, Judeo-Christian fantasy ethos. I find those to be more evil than cannibalism, but they were sanctioned by God so must be objectively Good. They required killing people too, so killing people must be objectively Good, even if they were helpless prisoners (to cross-post slightly).

Ah, but this implies that the 'God' you are referring to is Good to begin with.

I believe the word Good derives from the word God, so God is Good by definition. Do we have a linguist on the boards?

Dark Archive

H.P. Makelovecraft wrote:
Killing someone to eat then is evil. Eating someone you killed is pretty dark, but I still in that grey area.

I agree with this. Mostly.

I actually played an Orc (LN, non-PFS) who had no problems eating dead bodies. So long as they weren't diseased, or rotten, or something.

The first time the players saw me do it (I didn't give details, I just said that while we make camp I prepare the fallen enemies (beasts, monsters, or otherwise, as cooked, salted meats) they made a reaction.

- "You Can't Eat That!"
- "Why not. I didnt kill him to eat him. He attacked us. I'm hungry. It's just Meat. It's not like he's using it anymore. If I don't eat it, either a wild animal will eat it, or it will go to waste. There's nothing wrong with eating meat. It's good for you. Since you guys are my friends, if you would prefer, I won't eat your meat if you die."
- "So if you die, you have no problems with us eating you?"
- "Sure. No reason for you to go hungry. I don't expect you to carry around my dead body. Just save a hand or something for the resurrection - which of course I will pay for."
- "That's. Gross, but pretty logical."

Not once did I buy rations. The rest of the party was picky about their meat sources, so I kept the meat of beasts and bugs and monsters and stuff separate for them.

I never made a big deal out of it, and after that short explanation, neither did they.

After we fought in the wilderness, if we made camp, I would just say: "I make more salted meats." Make a "Profession: Cook" roll to see how good it was, and the GM would make a guess at how much cookable meat there was for me to prepare. Which I would then pack into a chest filled with salt on our cart.

Often, it was the meat of monsters. Sometimes it was bandits. Or bullywugs (I believe theyre still called bullywugs in pf) or kobolds. One time it was a wyvern. Another time a whole dragon (that took a while to prepare and I needed help, but at that point we had like 50 1st level followers to feed).

When we went to town, I wasn't carrying around a bunch of arms and legs, I just had a container of spiced and salted meats. Nobody has any idea what type of meat it was but me (since the party wasn't keeping track of which meat I stored where).

I would make a case to argue it's not evil (though I imagine it's quite frowned upon in cities). But for the sake of PFS, I would say that the witch's cook person ability sets a precedent that it is, even if it makes no sense. (but then, making golems vs animating skeletons and the alignment issues therein are totally backwards and make no sense as well, so that's nothing new. Making golems involves kidnapping forcing the soul of an elemental into servitude, and quite likely, suffering and death. Making a skeleton involves using negative energy to animate inanimate objects that used to be animate.)

However, it does have the potential to be quite disruptive, depending on how its handled, or with really religious groups. I would avoid playing such a character with christian fundamentalists. But then I would avoid gaming with christian fundamentalists, as I don't think I could spend 4 hours in a room with them without things dissolving into a series of arguments.

Dark Archive

As a side note, you can make non-evil skeletons by other means.

Instead of using the spells to create undead, use the spells to animate objects.

As a bonus, if you do that as the GM and attack the PCs with them, they will be confused when none of the clerical abilities against undead work, since it's a construct instead. :P

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