OK, so the elf/dwarf thing kind of derailed the thread...
Pendagast, indeed good people can and do kill good people all the time, but rarely in published paizo APs is it so pointless as it could be in Shards of Sin. Usualy when PCs are forced to kill non evil people it is because they ar working to promote some sort of greater good, usualy by stopping evil forces.
However, in Shards, the PCs just kinda want to get somewhere to find loot and glory, the Tower Girls are in the way and will not move peacefuly without some serious coercion, and so the PCs slaughter them all. At least, that's how it is presented in the module itself.
generally, the death of innocents (and in most Paizo APs, a group of petty burglers are innocent because they are not the bad guys and are relativley harmless) is one of the worst outcomes possible that can be caused by PC action. They usualy only kill innocents if they have to. In Shards, the fact that the girls are not evil worthy of a violent end is never even mentioned, which suprised me.
My players had their first foray into The Crow yesterday. They killed the wererat sentry, and when they encountered the next two sentries on the fourth floor, I roleplayed the two girls as written. My players happily killed the grumpy, mean girl but left the nervous, anxious girl unconscious because they felt sorry for her. Awww.
Lord Snow wrote:
How do the players know the alignment or intent behind attackers or other adversaries, unless they have extensive background, previous knowledge or high RP interaction, they are adversaries that are attacking. Just like in war, or whatever, it's them or us.
PCs do this all the time, go into someone's house with the intent on hauling out loot.
What's more "moral" killing an orc to take shiny thing from him, or killing a human girl to take a shiny thing from her. Is there a difference?
Perhaps PCs should think about what they are doing and WHY before they encounter the probable resistance inside?
It seems to me that this issue comes up because Shards of Sin (and the rest of Shattered Star so far) is deliberately written to alow both play styles:
If your group has likes just killing Bad Guys and taking their stuff, then you can run it that way.
If your group likes considering the motivations behind "enemies" and finding nuanced ethical ways to overcome them, then there's plenty of opportunities for that, too.
Trying to accommodate both styles does carry the risk of each side feeling like the material as-written leans too much in the opposite direction. But Paizo seems to think that we're smart GMs, and we can make the little adjustments that we need for our groups.
I don't know. Is that really how you usually play?Just randomly attacking the nearest monsters that might happen to have loot?
Usually, if my group is attacking orcs, it's because the orcs have been attacking others. Like the goblins in the start of RotR. Whom we actually wound up negotiating passage with, thanks to a charm person and some good diplomacy and diplomacy rolls.
Sometimes we've taken on monsters looking for specific items, usually something we needed to fight a larger threat.
SS is a little light on heroic motivation beyond getting the loot, though seeing the effects of the shards on the first Tower Girl suggests they're not safe to leave for anyone to find. Without knowing how to stop the curse at least.
Having really hit the jackpot here with one group, I'm really excited about this AP.
SS is a little light on heroic motivation beyond getting the loot, though seeing the effects of the shards on the first Tower Girl suggests they're not safe to leave for anyone to find.
"Protect Varisia from the looming Runelord threat" is probably going to do the trick for a lot of more heroically-minded parties, though it can certainly be fleshed out further and sold harder as needed.
It seems a little vague to me. The quest is really sparked by the accidental discovery of a Shard, not the threat of a Runelord. That's much more in the background.
And in the end, is only brought about by the PCs quest for the shards.
If you are a good aligned character then call on them to surrender..if they do not and resist then lethal force is warranted.
My Paladin is not going to indulge in needless bloodshed. He's Adabarian and more interested in making a profit anyway so turning the girls in for a reward is definitely on the cards.
Wererats on the other hand are an abominable infestation and need to be cut off at the source
Most of my PCs that aren't LG/NG are usually CG/CN, Neutral or LE. LE is given so won't discuss.
My neutral characters are usually motivated on the fame/power paradigm, less so by "balance" (unless Im playing an elf).
My neutral character outlook would be dependent on how the situation goes down, do they jump on us ferociously from the dark corners?
Shoot first roll bodies for loose change.
IS there a parlay where they demand we back off and leave?
Sneak back in and rob them later.
CG characters will usually hold back to see intent and need before slicing heads.
CN, bah your stuff is mine, what's not mine will be mine if I have anything to say about it. Killing would depend on the level of resistance I got, getting what was already mine.
Yeah, I felt the motivation was a little on the light side too.
Well, there's personal glory; the boost in reputation for the PCs, the Pathfinder Lodge, and the Pathfinder Society in general; and the possibility of a viable defence against potential resurgent Runelords, indigenous critters, Orcs out of Belkzen, Nidalese/Linnorm Kingdoms raids.
But I added another aspect. I added the Aspis Consortium. In my campaign, Sheila has long suspected that someone from inside Heidmarch Manor is feeding the Consortium information that leads them to get to important finds before her Pathfinder agents. She worries what would happen if the suspected spy found out about the recovery of the Shard, so the PCs must find them first before word gets out. This also helps explain why Sheila gives such an important mission to neophyte agents - she (sadly) can't trust the ones she has with this.
I'm going to be riffing on this plot and intrigue and other outside groups throughout, just to mix things up and keep my players guessing.
I will have to disagree with this. Anyone always reacting like this would be CE in my book.
My CN characters would alternate between
DM Wellard wrote:
As to motivation for doing this AP..heck your the PFS..finding damgerous artifacts and locking them away for the good of society is what they do..Hmm..I wonder if we hav a 13th Warehouse yet.
Well, I was specifically talking about good/heroic motivations. Locking things away for the good of the world isn't a bad job, but I'm not sure it rises to that level. PFS serves a useful purpose, but it isn't the most heroic of outfits. Giving a direct competitor, like the Aspis as Shaun suggests, would add an important sense of threat and urgency.
Actually Pendagast's description of CN is dead on, take a look at the section I bolded. If that had instead been,
Killing would be a given., or possibly,
Killing would depend on my level of boredom...
then you could argue CE.
Now that I think about it, both your descriptions of CN are fairly accurate, they are also not mutually exclusive.
Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Seriously? Chaotic Neutral is "I'm going to take your stuff, but I'll only bother killing you if you try to stop me."You're only evil if you're actually killing for fun?
A chaotic evil character does what his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If he is simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal.I think "out for whatever he can get" and "ruthless and brutal" describes
bah your stuff is mine, what's not mine will be mine if I have anything to say about it. Killing would depend on the level of resistance I got, getting what was already mine.
The CN = I have no path and everything I do makes no sense, alignment went away along time ago.
CE= killing for the sake of killing and amusement, I said killing would be based on the level of resistance. which is about the same for most non evil alignments.
CN is one step away from CE, which by the way, now that I read this scenario is the alignment of the Tower GIRL (singular) because she has hired thugs with her, not more of her group. and her goals are to KILL the PC's OR attack them and take what they have or let them KILL a person they might contact and get information, and if not KILL her.
So I don't see in this situation, after being ambushed why ANY alignment wouldn't kill her, so I'm failing to see the OPs point even?
The OP has read a side bar that says the Scarzni "Police" a certain area, that doesn't mean they are good helpful people keeping the streets safe, that means that's their turf, as in racketeering, protection money, and the like. It's Mafia styling "policing" not neighborhood watch.
The encounter as written is people with the intent of harming/killing the PCs or someone who might become an ally of the PCs (and give them information) depending on how the initial encounter goes down, so how is this "just hanging around" protecting your cat burglarized stuff?
Knowing what the PCs know, a CN character wouldn't have a reason NOT to kill a Tower Girl "Gee she's a criminal, I'm a criminal, first come first serve, oh look shiny!"
Heck a LN hellknight would kill em all too just for BEING cat burglars!
For the PCs, I see no problems justifying the attack on the Crow. We aren't talking about "Robbing the rich to give to the poor" theives. We are talking, "We take your stuff" theives. Breaking up a theiving ring is never a bad thing and would be perfectly justified. As for them protecting the public, as far as I can tell, they are not in the protection/extortion racket. They are theives.
Now, killing them outright. That would be harsh. Bare minimum it would be nice for the PCs to try and come up with a diplomatic approach, but really, what do you expect from the Tower Girls? They are theives. By nature they are dishonest and can't be trusted. You better have some amazing roleplaying to get them to hand over the shard. Which the leader just isn't going to do anyways. Who I should point out is very evil and has shown in the past to single out people to accept into her inner circle. Lower level members have a built in reason to fight because they could go up in ranks within the gang.
Now as for the Tower Girls response to the attack. Yea seeing a group of heavily armed members attacking your base would give you pause, but if I remember right, they were just kicked out of their last base. This one seems a lot better. Why wouldn't they defend it? If they just get a reputation that they run from attacks, then the other gangs will lose any respect for them and just attack them at will. So I see no problem with them organizing a defense of the Crow. Again, organize a defense. I don't see them just sitting there defending a room at a time with a couple of girls. Instead set up traps and ambushes and fall back positions. This is a big base. Use it to their advantage.
I have no problem with this getting violent.
I was more disagreeing with the ' your stuff is mine, what's not mine will be mine if I have anything to say about it' sentence .
But "i can have anything i want" is the common mentality of any thief and they are usually CN. Bet most of these girls are.
Andrew R wrote:
I will note that Paizo seems to have a very expansive definition of what counts as "neutral" morality. E.g. Besmara and Calistria.
Yes & No. Neither of the two dieties you mentioned have an active 'I'm going to make the world into a hell-hole that only I & possibly others like me will want to live in' mentality.That appears to be how Paizo is defining evil & that is what I would define as evil.
In relation, Paizo seems to define 'GOOD' as 'I'm actively trying to make the world a better place for 'everyone', or at least as many as possible'.
'NEUTRAL' is just those who don't fit into either of the other two categories. Which, honestly is where Neutral should always have fit anyway. Which is why the vast majority of beings in general fall into 'Neutral'.
I dont see what the controversy is, the tower girls are enemies set up in this AP to be fought an/or eliminated, there is no gray area, I could see if they were neutral good mind controlled or something but this is not the case, and the PCs have no reason to think otherwise.
The characters (if not the players) should have enough setting knowledge to realise Sczarni gangs are not very dangerous to the envoronment and if they are locals or botherd to check they will see the Tower Girls are petty burglers. Hardly worthy targets of elimination.
you're missing the fact that the leader has sent tower girls specifically after not only the PC's but a key NPC that the PCs might meet. The Tower girls are set up to fight, their goal is to kill them or the NPC that might likely ally with, or at least need for information.
Are you talking only about the first ambush? Or later when the PCs are invading their hideout?
In the first case, I don't think anyone would have any qualms. You've been attacked. You're (probably) protecting their target. No reason to hold back.
It's when you invade their hideout looking for loot, that the moral questions come up.
If you are attacked by storm troopers at Mos Eisely space port, do you then question the morality of shooting members of the same group when you stomp around the Death Star? Or has the cat already been let out of the bag??
Our party has both a paladin and oracle of Sarenrae in it and thus we ran headlong into this very conundrum.
Initially we asked to just pass through indicating we had no interest in their activities and were investigating a greater danger. The wererat leadership, however, did not like the idea of adventurers wandering about their "base" and thus engaged us. Even then the paladin offered a chance to surrender, as both she and I (the oracle) are firm believers in the path to redemption. The 'rats continued to fight, but our spellcasters, went with nonlethal attacks, ie. sleep which worked with great success. We still had to slay the 'rats, but the Tower Girls survived.
That has, of course, since bit us in the backside. We bound them all and secreted away all of their weapons with the intention of coming back and taking them all in to the law. Of course boss wererat (can't recall her name) was able to wear us down and escaped us. Before we could track her down and deal with her, she had freed our captives and they fled back to the city - with our boat.
It's not metagaming to not want to kill unless absolutely necessary. Some PCs consider the why ot the attacking and don't use that as an automatic death warrant.
Look at any number of fictional works where the heroes show mercy on villains, sympathetic or otherwise, resulting in a greater good than if they had just used lethal force as their first option. Some players want their characters to be evocative of that sort of hero. Some people want to play Conan or Guts or the Gray Mouser. Some people want to play Indiana Jones or Zorro or Sam Gamgee. And some people want to play Aang or Batman or Vash the Stampede.
Regarding Thejeff's analogy, I'd liken it less to the Death Star and more to the difference between killing monstrous humanoid raiders that are attacking a village and invade-looting a monstrous humanoid village. I'd fefinitely agree with him that there's a distinction there. After all, the Tower Girls aren't going to be blowing up Magnimar with their Piling-base.
@DiamondB: Man, I'd love to play alongside you guys. :)
As would I (enjoy playing alongside Diamond8 and Mikaze).
Almost every one of my characters are Good, in one way or another. They prefer not to kill, if at all possible, though they have been forced to on many an occasion. It is never their first choice, even with monsters...
Now, I know that many people consider my style of play "Lawful Stupid", but I always believe that it is much more difficult to be Good, than any other alignment. And sometimes more rewarding, if the GM is of the same mindset.
I just believe that assuming that all treasure is yours by right, because you are stronger, is not the mindset of a Good person.
There is a definitely different feeling when someone is attacking you with the intent to kill you. Pulling punches against them would seem ludicrous unless you obviously outclass them and have some reason to do that.
Having been involved in real life combat, I can't think of a way to deliberately choose to deal non lethal damage to someone trying to kill you.
If you end up reducing this person to 0 or less HP and it's not quite dead yet, but the combat has effectively ended, you might want to apply first aid, if you want to question them, have some value in retaining a prisoner, or come into the information that this person/creature was mind affected, or attacking you under false pretense.
However their status as "merely cat burglars" is hardly reason to grant quarter.
Oh this guy? he's only a thief in an extremely dangerous crime family, who just tried to murder me.
That's hardly someone innocent. Would it make a difference if the Tower Girls were well known enforcers? Thugs? Bakers?
What difference is someone reputation if the next door neighbor a well known gardener and part librarian, just attacked you with an axe? He'd get two barrels to the chest just like a terrorist.
However, it's extremely unlikely I would spend any time lurking in his house.
But in the case of the adventure, the Tower girls new base doesn't belong to them, it's not their property, no lawful or legal claim to it, and they only just claimed it, so local knowledge of "this is where they live" wouldn't necessarily belong to the PCs. They are actually there for another reason.
Without a spell or an ability used to confirm the Tower Girls Are CN (or most of them) all the Pc's know is they are a gang lead by wererats and these people are trying to kill them (again I might add, as this isn't the first time)
Now I doubt anyone is casting detect alignment or using detect evil abilities with someone trying to cut your face off. Subdue them? stabilize them and then use these abilities or spells? Sure maybe, but all that would tell you is 1) they aren't evil and 2) possibly with certain abilities that they aren't good.
I pretty much classify anyone trying to kill me as "not good".
IF there is a reason for PCs to think they aren't in their right mind, or they are being coerced or forced to fight, actions could be different. But I don't see any description of this anywhere in this case, and it seems the only worry about the encounter is the NPCs dont have the "evil" descriptor as part of their alignment.
I think that maybe you are coming at it from a preconceived notion. I am saying that there is a common stance of PCs that they feel that they have a right to all loot and treasure. Effectively killing people and creatures for XP and loot. That as a motivation is evil in its own right.
That's all I'm saying.
If someone is attacking you, you certainly have the right to defend yourself, but so do they if the PCs attack them. I don't call them evil if they are defending themselves from greedy PCs, unless they are Evil of course... :p
You equated it to war, but the Shards of Sin is not such a circumstance. You equated the Tower Girls to Stormtroopers, but they have no such reputation. I was just having trouble with your examples being valid arguments in this particular case.
No offense intended, I was just offering my opinion.
You say that you cannot think of a way to deliberately try not to kill someone that is trying to kill you. I can think of several ways. All of which I would try, before resorting to kill someone. It is not blood that I want on my hands. I try to be a better person than that. Hold yourself to a higher standard.
Of course, normally self-defense wouldn't apply if you are breaking into their home. Even if they're squatting in it and thus don't have legal rights to it, you still just can't go in, take their stuff and claim self-defense when you kill them. Unless, of course, you are the rightful owners or have some other legal sanction.
Well with all due respect, and without knowing you or which combat situation you were unfourtanate enough to find yourself in... You are a normal human being, while the PCs are certainly not.
When in combat, you are very much uncertain of the outcome of the next few moments. You are scared and excited and thinking clearly is nearly impossible. For normal people, your reasoning works well. However, PCs are action heroes - a selected few men and women truly destined for greatness, usualy through the path of combat. As the main characters of a story, PCs are something a little bit more, and so ARE capable of doing something greater than defending themselves.
As someone pointed out before, think of Batman. He knows that most of the scum he is fighting are forced into crime through circumstances they can't control. He knows that even if they actualy are truly bad people, they might have family, or someone they are supposed to look out for who needs them. And even in the case of supervillains, Batman NEVER kills, because simply put, he is better than his enemies. He is greater than any policeman, he is a hero willing to make the hard choice for the greater good. And so Batman never kills.
Now, Batman is the most competent man born since Jesus, so you can't expect your PCs to be exactly like him, but have some of that essence? to be willing to take greater personal risk in order to save lives?
Sure, the tower girls initiated an attack on the PCs, but that dosen't mean they should be wiped out. If Girl the PCs kill could have a small brother she needs to feed, or maybe she was forced into attacking because the boss of the Tower Girls is threatening to kill her otherwise. As long as the girls are not EVIL in the D&D sense, killing them could easily be unjustified, and good PCs should not be willing to take that risk.
As a good person in this situation , I would certainly try to negociate safe passage .
Acceptable - my PCs usualy use nonlethal force whenever they guess their opponent is close to 0 hp, which I very much appreciate of them, but I realise this is a "soft" approach not many people agree with.
@ AndrewR: It's not about hand-wringing, it's about subduing the assailant and letting the authorities deal with it. If you kill the man, you are little better than he is. Of course, this is situational, but in general, this is how I would deal with it. This isn't to say that I wouldn't make him hurt. He gave up any rights to humane treatment that he had once he decided to come at me.
@Lord Snow: My players tend to use lethal force and MAY decide to stabilize enemies if they feel like it. They have a tendency, much like it seems a few on this thread do, to be very vengeful. Often, they use the excuse, "They attacked us!" when they fail to realize that THEY are the invaders. (Like thejeff said.)
Objectively speaking, the Tower Girls are all in how they are run and how each individual gaming group tends to tackle encounters. There is no right or wrong approach.
Personally speaking, I employed the Tower Girls after dealing with the stubborn elements. I mean meta speaking this is first level, what it the cost of loyalty? A few gold, roof over your head and meal in your stomach?
Does no one else think outside the box? Heh.
Exactly. This is why I think this adventure is so well designed. Lord Snow's group can handle things their own way, and Pendagast's group can handle things their own way. And both groups can have fun.
And we can also have fun debating about it. :)
We expect the police to do their best to bring people in alive, though, when they resist arrest.
I've always kind of assumed that most fantasy RPGs operate under a general morality that's closer to medieval mindsets than modern-day morality. In other words...life is harsher and cheaper than we tend to think of it in the present day.
As others have pointed out, if an adult in control of their own faculties attacks you, you're not going to take an alignment "ding" just because you killed that person (even if they're not evil). As far as I tend to be concerned, if good-aligned players at least make the option of surrender known and don't abuse and/or kill those that -have- surrendered, they're meeting the requirements of their alignment. It's like the difference between "killing" and "murder." Killing someone in the midst of a heated battle? Not a big deal. Cutting their throat while they're unconscious or bound? Yeah, that's likely gonna scoot the latter portion of their alignment a notch or two or five towards "E."
Which brings me to the secondary point: A lot of DMs tend to forget or ignore that NPCs can and likely would surrender (or even more so attempt retreat) given the option and a sufficient display of force by the PCs.
Does that apply if they attack you while you're breaking into their home for no better reason than looking for a magic item?
On the question of how harsh it is to kill the Tower Girls if they're just petty thieves and minor troublemakers, in many ancient and medieval societies the legal penalty for thievery was death. So it would depend on how killing by the adventurers compared with their sentence if convicted in a local court. If the local court would impose a few dozen lashes, then killing is very harsh by local standards. If they would be hung anyway then not so much.
Isn't the real question whether the PCs have the right to execute punishment, capital or otherwise? Can a Lawful character be a vigilante? I don't think so! Fighting in self defense is one thing, but unless the law of the land has provision for citizen's arrest then making the first move would be illegal. Maybe a Chaotic Good character might try to incapacitate them non-lethally, but it would probably be improper for a Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral character to get involved without a warrent or comission. A Chaotic Neutral character, on the other hand, might not have too many scruples about their actions.