Ritual Cannibalism-Evil Or Not


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Dark Archive

Okay, so here is the situation. In my campaign kobolds engage in ritual cannibalism. They don't kill other kobolds just to eat them nut if a kobold warrior dies in a particularly heroic way, the other warriors eat a small part of his body to transfer the heroism to themsleves. It is a trait they inherited from dragons, who also engage in ritual cannibalism when the ruler of the united dragon tribes dies, the new leader eats the body of the old as a sign that power has switched hands. Some of my players have complained that this is an evil act and that I should not have good dragons and kobolds as a result. So I ask you, is this evil or not?

Scarab Sages

In my opinion, no. How is cannabalism any differant from eating any other kind of meat? And I think the important thing to note here is how the Kobolds in question are treating it. you did say they aren't malicious about it, and they don't go out of their way to kill a creature just to eat them. and they certainly don't tie one up to rip limbs off but keep the whole alive. it's just a part fo their culture. I've had to deal with a similar, and yet far more gruesome problem in my own. see, in my game halflings do something similar, only they eat anyone or anything that dies in glorious battle, even other halflings. It isn't evil. At least that's my opinion of it. Other, more delicate people may disagree. and players looking for an excuse to wipe out kobolds will definately disagree.

Sovereign Court

if they are eating those who already died, not evil unless you want to make any meat eating evil (this is just how they honor the dead, some cultures find burying your dead evil). If they are killing sentient creatures to eat them, yes it's evil.

Contributor

David Fryer wrote:
Okay, so here is the situation. In my campaign kobolds engage in ritual cannibalism. They don't kill other kobolds just to eat them nut if a kobold warrior dies in a particularly heroic way, the other warriors eat a small part of his body to transfer the heroism to themsleves. It is a trait they inherited from dragons, who also engage in ritual cannibalism when the ruler of the united dragon tribes dies, the new leader eats the body of the old as a sign that power has switched hands. Some of my players have complained that this is an evil act and that I should not have good dragons and kobolds as a result. So I ask you, is this evil or not?

Seems fine to me! Ask the folks in Papua New Guinea.

Former VP of Finance

I agree with Sutter. I see nothing inherently evil in eating the flesh of a member of your own species. Just because modern Western civilization frowns on it does not make it evil.

("...we taste like chicken.")

("Needs salt. But, then, Michael always needed seasoning.")

(Apologies for the misquote. Don't feel motivated to look up the real quote ATM.)

Dark Archive

Ritual cannibalism is fine by me, as long as the people were already dead, and part of a culture that believed in that sort of thing.

Even 'honoring' a mighty foe by eating a part of him, and then discovering that *his* people consider that sort of thing unspeakably vile desecration of the dead or whatever would be less 'evil' and more a cultural misunderstanding / 'faux pas.'

But killing people for food? Bad. Taking a nibble off of someone whom you *know* doesn't believe in that sort of thing? Very disrespectful. Put that down! And use a napkin, for Pelor's sake!

Scarab Sages

kessukoofah wrote:
In my opinion, no. How is cannabalism any differant from eating any other kind of meat?

Similarly, how is necrophilia any different from any other kind of casual sex?

:-)

Sovereign Court

Gom Golagoog wrote:
kessukoofah wrote:
In my opinion, no. How is cannabalism any differant from eating any other kind of meat?

Similarly, how is necrophilia any different from any other kind of casual sex?

:-)

Lack of consent and disrespectful of the dead, unless of course necrophilia is an accepted cultural norm in which case, nope not evil.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm going to have to agree with the other posters. While killing other members of your species for food when there are other plentiful food sources is probably not good, I would say ritualized cannibalism is not evil. Eating the dead can be just another funeral custom. While it is not pleasant for western mindsets (mine included) I would not classify it as an "evil" act per se. I also would not classify eating a defeated enemy as evil, either. Again, it seems tasteless to western senses (mine included), but the Celt or American Indian or New Guinean who ritually consumes a fallen foe in battle is somewhat comparable to the samurai or knight who takes the head of his foe and displays it so all can see.

These acts may be tasteless, but I think they are largely cultural constructs. If you are using the alignment system in a culturally neutral fashion, then I would not classify them as evil. Of course, other cultures may take offense and declare these kobolds or Celts or whatever to be evil, but that's how the world works, innit?

Liberty's Edge

[insert] gratuitous reference to cannibalism being species specific and so eating another species, intelligent or not, is technically just expanded carnivorous behavior [/end insert]

:D

Scarab Sages

thefishcometh wrote:
These acts may be tasteless, but I think they are largely cultural constructs.

[insert obligatory argument about the absurdity of moral relativism in a world where there are real, live angels and devils]

Sovereign Court

Just have the kobols or dragons say "This is my body, this is my blood" before they eat a little piece ;)

What you presented it too respectful to be considered evil. There's none of the desperation or dehumanization that accompanies scary cannibalism.

Dark Archive

Gom Golagoog wrote:
kessukoofah wrote:
In my opinion, no. How is cannabalism any differant from eating any other kind of meat?
Similarly, how is necrophilia any different from any other kind of casual sex?

These examples don't really line up.

The 'evil' of cannibalism appears to be drawn up on lines of consent. If the deceased belonged to a culture that supported ritual cannibalism, and their relatives dab some ashes from their cremated parent on their tongue, nobody's rights or wishes are being violated. (Note that this isn't usually applied to other creatures that don't want to be eaten. Cows and fish and chickens aren't consulted before having their heads whacked off, their guts ripped out and their bodies cut into fillets! Mmm. Steak...) If you dig up somebody who does *not* belong to such a culture and start mowwing down, that's bad and disrespectful and terribly, terribly unsanitary.

The only way this could be extended to necrophilia is if one belonged to a culture and accepted the practice of people having sex with dead bodies, which, as far as I know, doesn't have a real-world cultural analogue. (Granted, in a fantasy world, a Speak with Dead spell could gain such consent post-mortem, and some dead people are quite capable of getting up and making their wishes quite clear, if they are ghouls, vampires, liches, etc!)

thefishcometh wrote:
These acts may be tasteless,

Heh.


There are reasons, why cannibalism, no matter the justifications is considered despicable by just about every culture on Earth that managed to drag itself from savagery. From strictly utilitarian and morally relativistic standpoint, the reason is such: customs or beliefs that endorse ritual cannibalism or, moreover, attribute some benefits to it (such as "transerring eaten's heroism") create additional incentives to, you know, kill people around you. Therefore, while I cannot speak for other people's settings, in my own eating sentient beings is evil, period. Religions that aren't outright evil condemn such practices (evil religions quite often specifically encourage eating enemies, and promote beliefs about absorbing their strengths by eating them, because hey, making your dupes damn themselves by committing atrocities, and chaining themselves to you by adopting universally feared and reviled customs is like killing two birds with one stone) as do major cultures.

Sovereign Court

Gom Golagoog wrote:
thefishcometh wrote:
These acts may be tasteless, but I think they are largely cultural constructs.
[insert obligatory argument about the absurdity of moral relativism in a world where there are real, live angels and devils]

Golarion has no guidelines for morality. The religions don't exactly do a good job of presenting a moral framework besides "good is good" and "bad is bad". At most they're just conceptual placeholders for concepts like beauty, wealth, nature, etc. Does that presence of angels and demons make you assume there's a general Old Testament refrain? I'm not so sure.

Who's to say Golarion's angels don't eat each other when they 'die'?


Not evil, but definetly Chaotic Creepy.

Gom Golagoog wrote:
kessukoofah wrote:
In my opinion, no. How is cannabalism any differant from eating any other kind of meat?

Similarly, how is necrophilia any different from any other kind of casual sex?

We should get those organ donor cards updated by a line where you give consent in advance.

Of course, if you have a world with entities like liches and vampires, necrophilia can be consentual. And, there can be viviphilia - where sexual relations have the living part as the victim. Now that's creepy.

Sovereign Court

FatR wrote:
There are reasons, why cannibalism, no matter the justifications is considered despicable by just about every culture on Earth that managed to drag itself from savagery. From strictly utilitarian and morally relativistic standpoint, the reason is such: customs or beliefs that endorse ritual cannibalism or, moreover, attribute some benefits to it (such as "transerring eaten's heroism") create additional incentives to, you know, kill people around you. Therefore, while I cannot speak for other people's settings, in my own eating sentient beings is evil, period. Religions that aren't outright evil condemn such practices (evil religions quite often specifically encourage eating enemies, and promote beliefs about absorbing their strengths by eating them, because hey, making your dupes damn themselves by committing atrocities, and chaining themselves to you by adopting universally feared and reviled customs is like killing two birds with one stone) as do major cultures.

While it may be OK for a monster race, it is not for PCs, and IMO yes it is evil.

Besides I once had the idea to play a "cannibal" barbarian. He would not eat humanoids, but every other monster was fair game. I nearly got kicked from LGH for this and had to change concept. The other players were shocked.

So really, it is fine for villains, but let's stop here.

Sovereign Court

FatR wrote:
From strictly utilitarian and morally relativistic standpoint, the reason is such: customs or beliefs that endorse ritual cannibalism or, moreover, attribute some benefits to it (such as "transerring eaten's heroism") create additional incentives to, you know, kill people around you.

Customs that incentivize people to kill other people aren't exactly evil. In fact, you can argue that a religious imperative is required for a good society to commit violent acts. Ritual is a form of permission seeking: the fact that the OP's kobolds and dragons observe it means they don't practice violence or desecration casually. They're civilized.

What if these kobolds and dragons do indeed absorb the heroic qualities of those they ritually consume? If they do it maliciously or cruelly, or without ritual, perhaps they are robbed of their own bravery?

Sovereign Court

Stereofm wrote:
Besides I once had the idea to play a "cannibal" barbarian. He would not eat humanoids, but every other monster was fair game. I nearly got kicked from LGH for this and had to change concept. The other players were shocked.

Shocked that your character ate the monsters he killed? See, I hate this sort of thing. It's stupidly Puritanical: the gore and over-the-top violence of the genre is completely acceptable, but mundane considerations and consequences are somehow icky.

It's like a sci-fi game I played in. We had a portable matter replicator, but no organic 'matter bars' to fuel it with. Everyone was starving. My character used his own poop, and turned it into a ham sandwich. The other players at the table flipped.


Selk wrote:
My character used his own poop, and turned it into a ham sandwich. The other players at the table flipped.

Ewww....

On the other hand, I've played in a game where pieces of monsters killed were cut off and thrown in a bucket of salt referred to as the "meat bucket" for later consumption.
I believe the player who suggested that had been inspired by NetHack.


FatR wrote:
There are reasons, why cannibalism, no matter the justifications is considered despicable by just about every culture on Earth that managed to drag itself from savagery. From strictly utilitarian and morally relativistic standpoint, the reason is such: customs or beliefs that endorse ritual cannibalism or, moreover, attribute some benefits to it (such as "transerring eaten's heroism") create additional incentives to, you know, kill people around you. Therefore, while I cannot speak for other people's settings, in my own eating sentient beings is evil, period. Religions that aren't outright evil condemn such practices (evil religions quite often specifically encourage eating enemies, and promote beliefs about absorbing their strengths by eating them, because hey, making your dupes damn themselves by committing atrocities, and chaining themselves to you by adopting universally feared and reviled customs is like killing two birds with one stone) as do major cultures.

This is frankly over simplification.

A foundational element of one of the largest religions in the world is a form of symbolic ritual cannibalism. It is catholic dogma that the waffer and wine of the Eucharist literally transubstantiate, becoming the flesh and blood of jesus. While other christian sects may not beleive in the literal transubstantiation, they mostly do still perform the symbolic canibalism of jesus when undertaking the Eucharist.

Dark Archive

FatR wrote:
There are reasons, why cannibalism, no matter the justifications is considered despicable by just about every culture on Earth that managed to drag itself from savagery.

And there's the other side of the coin.

Catholics (and those Asian people, and me, 'cause I used to chew my nails, and I'm pretty sure I swallowed blood when I was in that car accident...) are dirty unenlightened savages who have damned themselves. You read it here first!


Set wrote:
FatR wrote:
There are reasons, why cannibalism, no matter the justifications is considered despicable by just about every culture on Earth that managed to drag itself from savagery.

And there's the other side of the coin.

Catholics (and those Asian people, and me, 'cause I used to chew my nails, and I'm pretty sure I swallowed blood when I was in that car accident...) are dirty unenlightened savages who have damned themselves. You read it here first!

I agree, its up there with "the dirty savage are evil because the dirty savages attack us", we now refer to the 'dirty savages' a highly sophisticated stoneage people, with rich cultures who where used and abused by white settlers, who had there languaged, cultures and religions largely destroyed in the name of progress

Sovereign Court

FatR wrote:
There are reasons, why cannibalism, no matter the justifications is considered despicable by just about every culture on Earth that managed to drag itself from savagery. From strictly utilitarian and morally relativistic standpoint, the reason is such: customs or beliefs that endorse ritual cannibalism or, moreover, attribute some benefits to it (such as "transerring eaten's heroism") create additional incentives to, you know, kill people around you. Therefore, while I cannot speak for other people's settings, in my own eating sentient beings is evil, period. Religions that aren't outright evil condemn such practices (evil religions quite often specifically encourage eating enemies, and promote beliefs about absorbing their strengths by eating them, because hey, making your dupes damn themselves by committing atrocities, and chaining themselves to you by adopting universally feared and reviled customs is like killing two birds with one stone) as do major cultures.

Does that mean writing wills is evil? or life insurance?


I think thefishcometh raises an interesting point with the idea of cultural constructs. In a game world, we have game terminology "Evil" and cultural construct "evil". Posters here have argued both that cannibalism is game terms Evil and Not Evil. I'd say Not Evil, but this obviously varies by GM. Certainly modern western society, based strongly on christian ideals, largely views real-life cannibalism as "evil".

The real question this raises is what acts are universally considered game terms "Evil"? Conjuring a devil and selling your grandmother's soul to it (for eternal torture and torment etc etc) is probably "Evil" but in Golarian's Cheliax or FR's Thay, it's common practice, and probably not considered culturally "evil" (though across the way, it might be). What do you reckon?

Dark Archive

Tristan Wadsworth wrote:
The real question this raises is what acts are universally considered game terms "Evil"? Conjuring a devil and selling your grandmother's soul to it (for eternal torture and torment etc etc) is probably "Evil" but in Golarian's Cheliax or FR's Thay, it's common practice, and probably not considered culturally "evil" (though across the way, it might be). What do you reckon?

'An it harms no one, do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.'

It's a silly rubric, and one espoused by a crazy person, but I kind of like it.

Cannibalism where you hunt down and kill people to eat them, for *whatever* reason? Bad. People are harmed.

Cannibalism where you dig up people and snack on them for whatever reason, without any form of consent, directly given or culturally implied? Bad. Even though the dead person is technically beyond mortal 'harm,' their living descendents, who do not believe what you are doing is acceptable, are being needlessly upset by this sort of thing.

Cannibalism where you ingest only remains from someone who knew and approved of that cultural practice? Not bad. Nobody is being harmed, the deceased is being *honored* and the survivors are being *comforted* by the tradition.

Selling souls to creatures of 'elemental evil?' Bad. There's really not a way this could be 'good.' Even if the soul-seller is utterly willing, and excited at their chance to go to Hell (for some tweako reason), it's still feeding power to the Pit. Even if the Devils promise all sorts of binding contractual promises to only use the power they gain from this specific soul to fend off eviler demons, or cure a busload of nuns of leprosy, or find loving homes for orphaned rainbow sparkle-ponies, it's still trafficking in eternal slavery, and even if the devils hold up to that bargain, it's only freeing them up to use the *rest of their power* to do wicked, rotten, naughty, nogood, verybad things that they wouldn't have otherwise been able to do. Bad, bad, bad. Doubleplus ungood!

It was 'acceptable' at one time for a person to sell *themselves* into slavery, to help pay off a family debt or provide for their family. In Cheliax, it might well be an accepted practice for an 'expendable' family member to sell their own soul to a devil for power, favor and / or advancement for their family / merchant house / whatever. And in that case, what the person is doing is desperate and awful and sad, but it's the *culture* that taught them that they would be expected to sell themselves to provide for their family is the one that is evil. The culture is *harming* these people who are raised to believe that they would be worth more sacrificing or selling themselves to benefit other people, than they would be as living free people. (And this sort of thought process still exists today, with people being told that the best possible use for their life would be to strap on a bomb and blow themselves up, in extreme cases, and by daughters who are raised to believe that their only value in life is to get married off for their family's benefit, in much more common and 'accepted' cases.)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Wait?!!! You mean we're not supposed to eat people?
Man, I wish one of you folks would have told me sooner.

Dark Archive

Tim Hitchcock wrote:

Wait?!!! You mean we're not supposed to eat people?

Man, I wish one of you folks would have told me sooner.

If they were willing when you started, and are appreciative, but kinda sleepy, when you finish, you're doing it right.


Not sure why these discussions turn into Christian bashing or blaming white Europeons for all the evils of the world, as if the world was full of peace and harmony before hand.
The OP just ask our opinion on the matter and savage acts can be found in any society.
In my opinion it's evil, perhaps justified by that society, but still evil. Also, medical science has shown that it causes a disease similiar to mad cow disease (at least when the brain is eaten). Mad cow disease is caused from serving cows beef products (at leasts that what I've been told).

Sovereign Court

The Christian, white European bashing is because most of us here probably share that background and can handily reference it. If we were Chinese we'd probably be propping up China as an example of rigidity.

It's just shorthand for complaining about the man. It has little to do with the hypocrisy of a particular culture, and more to do with the concept of hypocrisy in general. Humankind is at turns graceful and ridiculous, everywhere: I just know more examples in the Western world. It's easier to pick on. Well, for me at least.


Salintar wrote:

In my opinion it's evil, perhaps justified by that society, but still evil. Also, medical science has shown that it causes a disease similiar to mad cow disease (at least when the brain is eaten). Mad cow disease is caused from serving cows beef products (at leasts that what I've been told).

Yes it does. But that makes it a bad idea, not evil. Otherwise other possibly disease causing natural occurences such as sunlight, sex, and eating food could be considered evil. I imagine that the view of cannibalism as evil is more the result of concern for personal remains, the soul, and correct cultural behaviour, rather than recent scientific studies..


We eat pigs, and that's okay. When we eat people, it's not. Whales are allready unclear and what about apes?
We're eating intelligent creatures all the time and most people are not seeing it as evil. Eating people is probably seen as evil because it's bad for social life if we kill members of our society. I think intelligence doesn't really play that much into it, if it is percieved as okay or bad to kill and eat people.

But compared to evil, Evil doesn't care for social aspects, only that you kill an intelligent being for food. I think the alignment approach fails here.


WARNING: Dealing with the touchy topic of real-world religions, those easily offended skip this post please.

We need to see things in context before emitting any kind of judgement:

Golarion is a world free of real-world misogynistic, manipulative, power-hungry religions, which implies plenty of things, the most remarkable being the notorious lack of prejudice when compared to real world (to the point that in Rise of the Runelords there is a gay paladin of Abadar, the LAWFUL NEUTRAL deity).

I won't get into trying to weave an official definition of "evil", we'd never end and I think I better leave that task to the phillosophers, but burying the dead was a custom that came up originally in order to prevent decomposing bodies from spreading disease, and then became ritual and once religions got a hold of it, it became a good/evil issue as with all things involving religious dogma. Same thing with monogamy that, as far as Christendom is concerned, was historically implemented by Moses during the great exodus in order to prevent dissemination of STDs.

The masses are on average stupid, so trying to explain them why it's better to do A and avoid B is a waste of breath. They need things to be made as simple as for even them to accept them. Just how many people you know that has no compunction in littering and smoking indoors? The average Joe won't listen that garbage creates infection, or that smoking gives you cancer, but they WILL aknowledge videogames are evil if the priest says so at mass. Good/evil is easy, simple, and saves you the bothersome task of thinking for yourself, that's why religions all over the world use it.

Check your religious baggage at the door, and care only for what you do with the living, the dead are long gone and they no longer care, a corpse has no more value than what a given cultural context gives it.

I apologize to posters for whatever flames this post will inevitably cause.

P.D: Necrophillia isn't evil as the corpse can care less what you do to it, it's just disgusting and asking for disease... also a kink I'd dare say borders on a disturbing behavioral disorder.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Salintar wrote:

In my opinion it's evil, perhaps justified by that society, but still evil. Also, medical science has shown that it causes a disease similiar to mad cow disease (at least when the brain is eaten). Mad cow disease is caused from serving cows beef products (at leasts that what I've been told).

Just a nitpick: Kuru is the disease you are referring to, and it isn't in all humans. A specific, very small population in Papua New Guinea, the Fore, had cannibalistic funeral rites. The disease in question, Kuru, which is caused by prions (the same particles that cause Mad Cow, look them up, they are crazy weird), is passed on through various bodily fluids, etc. Quoting the wikipedia article, "Although ingestion itself of the prion particles would not lead to the disease, there was a high degree of transmission if the prion particles could reach the subcutaneous tissue."

I would say that eating other people is probably less "healthy" than eating members of other species, because diseases are more likely to transmit between members of the same species. Cannibalism isn't particularly common, so we may be able to infer that instincts to say "no" to cannibalism may have been selected for in a large part of the human population, but it is obviously not universal.

Anyways, to expound upon whether or not to identify it as evil in your campaign or not, I think you need to really define "Evil" in your campaign. If you are looking to create a truly absolute, culturally bound definition, than you could very easily identify it as evil. If you are looking for a more universal, relativistic definition that has Good and Evil as much more abstract, then I would not identify it as evil. Even if you define it as "evil", I would say it does not taint the entire culture in question. No civilization is without it's blemishes.


Zombieneighbours wrote:


This is frankly over simplification.
A foundational element of one of the largest religions in the world is a form of symbolic ritual cannibalism. It is catholic dogma that the waffer and wine of the Eucharist literally transubstantiate, becoming the flesh and blood of jesus. While other christian sects may not beleive in the literal transubstantiation, they mostly do still perform the symbolic canibalism of jesus when undertaking the Eucharist.

It isn't, unless you can prove that Catholicism does not condemn eating flesh of actual humans.

Liberty's Edge

David Fryer wrote:
Okay, so here is the situation. In my campaign kobolds engage in ritual cannibalism. They don't kill other kobolds just to eat them nut if a kobold warrior dies in a particularly heroic way, the other warriors eat a small part of his body to transfer the heroism to themsleves. It is a trait they inherited from dragons, who also engage in ritual cannibalism when the ruler of the united dragon tribes dies, the new leader eats the body of the old as a sign that power has switched hands. Some of my players have complained that this is an evil act and that I should not have good dragons and kobolds as a result. So I ask you, is this evil or not?

Does it matter whether it is an evil act or not? The point is that you have a game element that is making your players uncomfortable. That's a problem.

Sure, you, as the DM, can do whatever you like, but the point of the game is to have fun. If you're even having this conversation at the table, things are not going as well as one would hope.

What do you hope to achieve by having good cannibals? This isn't like having respectable gay NPCs and disapproving of homophobia at the table. At least, I wouldn't think it is. You're not trying to promote cannibalism in the world at large, are you?

If your players don't feel comfortable with it, change it. It doesn't matter if it is EVIL or NOT EVIL - it's about trying to make the game fun for everyone involved. You can just as easily have the kobolds or the dragon 'ritually eat' the heroes equipment or a piece of his hoard. Hopefully you achieve the story purpose of cannibalism, without all the other baggage that goes with it (and may actually be making the game go in a direction contrary to your original story purpose).


lastknightleft wrote:


Does that mean writing wills is evil? or life insurance?

Strawman much? Supposed heirs always had the reason to gank their old men, and will always have, no matter the method of designating heirs, unless you abolish the very concept of inheritance, which is quite important for working of society. Cannibalism is not important. It just weakens social taboos agaisnst killing people, with no added benefits. Therefore, evil. In DnDland eating sentient beings should inspire even stronger horror and revulson, than in the real world, because there is a metric ton of monsters that love to do just that and the threat of being eaten is the constant fact of your life, not something that you discuss purely theoretically.


Selk wrote:

Customs that incentivize people to kill other people aren't exactly evil. In fact, you can argue that a religious imperative is required for a good society to commit violent acts. Ritual is a form of permission seeking: the fact that the OP's kobolds and dragons observe it means they don't practice violence or desecration casually. They're civilized.

What if these kobolds and dragons do indeed absorb the heroic qualities of those they ritually consume? If they do it maliciously or cruelly, or without ritual, perhaps they are robbed of their own bravery?

Well, magic working in this fashion can change things. Then the DM should just make this mechanism obvious to PCs.

Liberty's Edge

I am, myself, Catholic.

I was unable to discover any credible source banning cannibalism or connecting it to a sin. I did find a reference in Time magazine it it being acceptable in some circumstances:

Time wrote:


From the viewpoint of Christian ethics, though, it was not certain that the men on the mountainside had sinned by eating the flesh of their dead companions. By and large, Roman Catholic moral theologians agreed that the act was justified under the circumstances. A few perhaps extravagantly, even likened the situation to the central act of the Eucharist, where the faithful consume the body and blood of Christ under the species of bread and wine.

Preaching at a thanksgiving Mass in Montevideo for the survivors and their families, a Roman Catholic priest, Father Eduardo Rodríguez said: "What happens to them will depend on us now, and on the love and understanding that we are capable of giving them." As a Chilean paper asked rhetorically in the headline of one story about the incident: WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?

That does not mean to say that the Catholic church approves of cannibalism. Just as the Catholic church does not believe in war, there are exceptions to rules. Some liken the Catholic stance against using stem cells for research to be similar to a prohibition against cannibalism.

But per my previous point, that has little to do with the way the players feel about the situation.


Tristan Wadsworth wrote:

I think thefishcometh raises an interesting point with the idea of cultural constructs. In a game world, we have game terminology "Evil" and cultural construct "evil". Posters here have argued both that cannibalism is game terms Evil and Not Evil. I'd say Not Evil, but this obviously varies by GM. Certainly modern western society, based strongly on christian ideals, largely views real-life cannibalism as "evil".

The real question this raises is what acts are universally considered game terms "Evil"? Conjuring a devil and selling your grandmother's soul to it (for eternal torture and torment etc etc) is probably "Evil" but in Golarian's Cheliax or FR's Thay, it's common practice, and probably not considered culturally "evil" (though across the way, it might be). What do you reckon?

Some cultures in my campaign setting, or in vanilla DnD, for that matter, do not belive that cannibalism is evil. Some (often overlapping) cultures also believe that xenocidal war against other races is the only way to live, and that slavery or rape is great. If you don't care about their opinion, you shouldn't care about what chelish or thayans think about selling souls. Even if you adhere to moral relativism, cultural norms, that were instigated and nurtured by beings of pure malevolence that absolutely despise mortals should not be considered acceptable. Not any more than other oppressive practices. For example, selling souls of others is slavery, except about 1000% more vile.


Salintar wrote:

Not sure why these discussions turn into Christian bashing or blaming white Europeons for all the evils of the world, as if the world was full of peace and harmony before hand.

The OP just ask our opinion on the matter and savage acts can be found in any society.
In my opinion it's evil, perhaps justified by that society, but still evil. Also, medical science has shown that it causes a disease similiar to mad cow disease (at least when the brain is eaten). Mad cow disease is caused from serving cows beef products (at leasts that what I've been told).

Firstly, i am not bashing christianity on this occation. There are a lot of good reasons to, but this isn't one of them. However, you cannot escape the fact that the centeral act of worship is symboilic canibalism.

As for bashing white europeans. I am a white european and if i want to point out the faults of european collonialism in the past, i don't think thats to bad.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy was not caused by feeding beef products to cattle. It was caused by feeding cattle feed that contained Sheep offal. This resulted in Zoonotic transpher of the prionic scrapie into some cattle. In turn eating contaminated offal from cows, was likely the cause of some cases of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in some human. I am sorry, this doesn't back up the idea that canibalism is wrong.


FatR wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:


This is frankly over simplification.
A foundational element of one of the largest religions in the world is a form of symbolic ritual cannibalism. It is catholic dogma that the waffer and wine of the Eucharist literally transubstantiate, becoming the flesh and blood of jesus. While other christian sects may not beleive in the literal transubstantiation, they mostly do still perform the symbolic canibalism of jesus when undertaking the Eucharist.
It isn't, unless you can prove that Catholicism does not condemn eating flesh of actual humans.

The burden of proof isn't on me. If you beleive that there is a specific taboo against canibalism in christianity that comes from scripture, it is up to you to provide it. Look up russels Teapot while your at it.

To top it off, to faithful, dogma beleiving catholics, that waffer is a 'literal human being'.


Neithan wrote:

We eat pigs, and that's okay. When we eat people, it's not. Whales are allready unclear and what about apes?

We're eating intelligent creatures all the time and most people are not seeing it as evil. Eating people is probably seen as evil because it's bad for social life if we kill members of our society. I think intelligence doesn't really play that much into it, if it is percieved as okay or bad to kill and eat people.

But compared to evil, Evil doesn't care for social aspects, only that you kill an intelligent being for food. I think the alignment approach fails here.

the Alignment approach fails in nearly every test it is ever put into, i don't think it should supprise use it falls to peices utterly in a subject this touchy. ;)


Ritual cannibalism is one of those things I like to play with when I start kicking around setting ideas. It's unusual to most players. It's memorable and evocative. It may even lead to some uneasiness or cultural experimentation amongst the PCs. That's a win in my book.

I'm also feeling a little bit silly right now.

Set wrote:


Even if the Devils promise all sorts of binding contractual promises to only use the power they gain from this specific soul to fend off eviler demons, or cure a busload of nuns of leprosy, or find loving homes for orphaned rainbow sparkle-ponies

Bah, any devil worth its salt would make sure to only cure busloads of nuns that really had the leprosy coming and make sure all the kind sparkle-ponies went to abusive homes while the mean, rabid sparkle-ponies went to homes with innocent, bright-eyed, hands-outstretched young children. Ever seen a cute little tyke hopped up on sparkle-rabies? It's hilarious. I swear, one of these days the celestial are going to realize how much joy it brings and get in on the business themselves.

All in all they're decent people, those devils.


Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth wrote:
Now, be careful, Fry. And if you kill anyone, make sure to eat their heart to gain their courage. Their rich, tasty courage.

I remember playing a crazed wood elf follower of Malar (the Beastlord) who believed that eating an enemy's fresh heart will transfer his power to you. He'd even offer his party members to share the power, but they always declined. :D


KaeYoss wrote:
Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth wrote:
Now, be careful, Fry. And if you kill anyone, make sure to eat their heart to gain their courage. Their rich, tasty courage.
I remember playing a crazed wood elf follower of Malar (the Beastlord) who believed that eating an enemy's fresh heart will transfer his power to you. He'd even offer his party members to share the power, but they always declined. :D

Common real world beleif.

Liberty's Edge

I think a useful question to ask is why these kobolds, who apparently practice mortuary/ritual/opportunistic cannibalism, seem to draw the line at homicidal cannibalism. Is there a kobold culture hero from the past with tablets of wisdom from the powers that be strictly outlining this? Or do kobolds universally follow some inner moral compass that says "eating a brave fallen comrade as a sign of respect is good and proper, but hunting and killing other intelligent beings.....bad bad bad."

And then, why do they consider it bad? Kobolds are three feet tall. They're puny. If you put me in a steel cage death match with a kobold with all things equal and no weapons, the kobold would have no chance. I'm not that tough, but to a kobold, I'm a damn cave bear.
And yet, for some reason, horrifying savage gigantopithecus of a being as I am to this poor little kobold,....if somehow he got the drop on me, afterword he would refuse to eat my liver with fava beans, because that's just inherently wrong.

If I was a player, I don't think I would frankly trust in their good judgment. I'd expect them to show up at the nearest human village with Red Lobster bibs on. So, yes.....overly simplistic as it is, let's label them as evil. Shoot first, ask questions later. From a player character survival standpoint, it works. Is it even bad roleplaying? I think not!

One of the problems with the noble savage motif; we inevitably end up too busy condemning or defending western society and thought to adequately address how simplistic, how far from the truth the presentation actually is. Damn cultural elitists and their taboos....

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

While moral relativism is fine and dandy, taken too far it becomes a really bad way to look at anything. Foot binding - An ancient custom in China, which the republic of china mercilessly destroyed? Female circumcision - who are you to tell the tribesman that horribly mutilating their woman is bad?

Seriously, a certain ethos is just ingrained in our culture, and the cannibalism - taboo is pretty deep inside that. Thus yeah. Even ritualized cannibalism is evil in my book. Not necessarily evil as in "you go to hell, right here and now", but absolutely a strike against you, and something a devoted follower of good is going to feel anguished over. I'd go so far and put it right up there in evil acts with the casting of spells with the "evil" descriptor. It will tarnish you, but you might get away with it, especially if you do penance later.


I would consider cannibalism evil at least from a human standpoint for two reasons.

One is that cannibalism is indeed a worldwide taboo, this isn't simply a western culture thing. Every culture sees cannibalism as morally abhorrent. There may be a few tribes in remote areas that have stories based on something weird like eating the heart of a dead enemy, but this taboo is actually fairly consistant taboo, just like incest to direct relatives is a worldwide taboo.

The second reason might be tied to the first, and that might be the fact there could be some kind of genetic reason you shouldn't. It seems that this behavior can lead to protean diseases like mad cow disease at least in mammals, so there might be a solid reason to find this an evil act.

Obviously you could justify it in another species by saying they simply do not function the same way, but there would certainly be a reason to consider cannibalism a universal taboo in your campaign setting.


TerraNova wrote:

While moral relativism is fine and dandy, taken too far it becomes a really bad way to look at anything. Foot binding - An ancient custom in China, which the republic of china mercilessly destroyed? Female circumcision - who are you to tell the tribesman that horribly mutilating their woman is bad?

Seriously, a certain ethos is just ingrained in our culture, and the cannibalism - taboo is pretty deep inside that. Thus yeah. Even ritualized cannibalism is evil in my book. Not necessarily evil as in "you go to hell, right here and now", but absolutely a strike against you, and something a devoted follower of good is going to feel anguished over. I'd go so far and put it right up there in evil acts with the casting of spells with the "evil" descriptor. It will tarnish you, but you might get away with it, especially if you do penance
later.

Absolute morality systems often allow cruel actions such as Footbinding and genitial mutilation. genital mutilation is infact justified under religions pretects in many cases. Yet they can be argued against successfully in relativist moral systems on the same grounds that cruelty to animals can be argued against. In fact, it was a switch towards more relativist thinking which brought about major academic advancements in animal welfare legistation. These things are considered bad because the subject can be shown to suffer and that we make a judgement that unneccissary suffering is bad.

Canibalism is different. The individual is dead, their for beyond suffering. If a culture beleives that the way you show proper respect to ones ancestors and usher them into the after life is to eat their corpse then why is such an act evil?

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