Are Goblins Civilized?


3.5/d20/OGL

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You're in a Goblin market.

Tents and stalls line the streets, filled with everything from leatherwork to pots and pans. Sure, the goblin traders here drive a hard bargain, but they haven't tried to mislead, attack, or do anything ubtoward to you or your party.

Question;

Is it ok for the Lawful Good paladin to put his axe through one Goblin's head (selling potions etc) and take its' stuff on the basis that they are vermin?

Background;

Our party was sent to investigate a goblin market on the King's road that had sprung up near a ruined bridge. Some human travellers had gone missing nearby. The goblins built a new bridge, allegedly charging a toll. We weren't charged a toll by them and two of us left the market without harrassment. Although the bridge looks like it was destroyed by tools, there is no proof that the gobbies did it......yet.

So, to the question.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Tronos wrote:

You're in a Goblin market.

Tents and stalls line the streets, filled with everything from leatherwork to pots and pans. Sure, the goblin traders here drive a hard bargain, but they haven't tried to mislead, attack, or do anything ubtoward to you or your party.

Question;

Is it ok for the Lawful Good paladin to put his axe through one Goblin's head (selling potions etc) and take its' stuff on the basis that they are vermin?

Background;

Our party was sent to investigate a goblin market on the King's road that had sprung up near a ruined bridge. Some human travellers had gone missing nearby. The goblins built a new bridge, allegedly charging a toll. We weren't charged a toll by them and two of us left the market without harrassment. Although the bridge looks like it was destroyed by tools, there is no proof that the gobbies did it......yet.

So, to the question.

Ack ... you are asking one of the hardest questions in gaming, I think. I've run into this many, many times over the years, and the answer is often a maybe. It will depend on the GM and how they view alignment restrictions, and the player and how they feel about attacking beings that are acting in a peaceful, non-hostile manner.

On the whole, I would say no, it would be an evil act on the Paladin's part to simple attack and murder a merchant, irregardless of the general tendencies of the race. The situation you have described may make the pally grit his teeth and itch to put down the potential evil of the market and the goblins, but it is only potential evil, they haven't done anything provable yet.

It would be like going into a town like Korvosa (in Golarion) where one of the major religions and the leanings of several major folks is toward LE, and killing a merchant in his shop because he openly worships Asmodeus, which is fully legal. Any pally that pulled that on my as GM would be up on charges of murder, since the merchant wasn't doing anything hostile or threatening to the paladin.

But as I said at the beginning, this is a tough question, and a lot of it depends on your GM and group dynamics.

(Anecdote: Long ago, in 1e, I was playing a druid in a homebrew world that was predominantly controlled by evils, and we were working with the few goods to recover from the war that conquered the area. The DM felt I was not being "neutral" enough, and "punished" me by having a higher level member of my druidic order take me on a trip. We stood by and watched a band of hobgoblins attack and destroy a caravan of homesteaders, and only after all those poor innocents were dead did we decend from our perch in the hills and slaughter the hobgoblins in retribution. I was then told that that was what being neutral meant, maintaining a balance of good and evil in the world, even though we'd been told repeatedly that the scale of balance was heavily weighted toward the evil side ;p I dropped that character sometime shortly after that, and concetrated on a thief I had been running part time for the group.

That was almost 25 years ago, and it still rankles as I still believe that DM was wrong)


thanks for your ideas Gamer Girrl.

The other part of the story is that we found one Goblin selling magical items made of human body parts. Now, this Gobbie I tried to arrest and take back to town for questioning but the monk in the party stopped me because he didn't think the gobbie was doing anything wrong!

So many moral dilemmas.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Tronos wrote:

thanks for your ideas Gamer Girrl.

The other part of the story is that we found one Goblin selling magical items made of human body parts. Now, this Gobbie I tried to arrest and take back to town for questioning but the monk in the party stopped me because he didn't think the gobbie was doing anything wrong!

So many moral dilemmas.

Yikes! That's a wonderful role-playing opportunity there, and I think you were doing the right thing by your character, and probably the monk was doing the right thing by his ... makes for tricky times and the GM is prolly chuckling evilly behind his screen LOL

The Exchange

Tronos wrote:

thanks for your ideas Gamer Girrl.

The other part of the story is that we found one Goblin selling magical items made of human body parts. Now, this Gobbie I tried to arrest and take back to town for questioning but the monk in the party stopped me because he didn't think the gobbie was doing anything wrong!

So many moral dilemmas.

Paladin = Provost Marshal (Collects evidence as field magistrata, ajudicates case based on evidence, and enforces death sentence where applicable) Think Judge Dread meets James Bond.

If the Community recognises them as protected under the same laws as others, then NO killing Goblin Merchant - until he does something to warrant the death sentence according to local laws.

So is your Paladin under arrest for murder yet?


yellowdingo wrote:


Paladin = Provost Marshal (Collects evidence as field magistrata, ajudicates case based on evidence, and enforces death sentence where applicable) Think Judge Dread meets James Bond.

If the Community recognises them as protected under the same laws as others, then NO killing Goblin Merchant - until he does something to warrant the death sentence according to local laws.

So is your Paladin under arrest for murder yet?

I like the Judge Dredd similarity... does it also stretch to MAKING the law so long as he can justify his/her actions?


Goblins are usually Neutral Evil, not always Neutral Evil. That means redemption's possible.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

While some people have said that I would make a good Paladin, I refuse to play one.

The issue is "Is your understanding of 'Lawful Good' close enough to your GM's understanding of 'Lawful Good' that you are unlikely to screw your character over without realizing that you have done anything 'wrong'?"


Random, unprovoked murder would be a violation of the paladin's code.


You might also say that his deed was chaotic evil. If he had proof that the goblin did anything wrong, he probably should have arrested him or have him arrested.

But I agree that this is also up to the DM. When in doubt, I always ask the player what was his or her logic behind the deed. Sometimes it helps. E.g. one evil character in my campaign seemed too "nice" at first. When I discussed it with the player, he told me that he was trying to ingratiate himself with some very rich people he would use and exploit later. Now I have him make bluff checks in all those cases.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Tronos wrote:

You're in a Goblin market.

Tents and stalls line the streets, filled with everything from leatherwork to pots and pans. Sure, the goblin traders here drive a hard bargain, but they haven't tried to mislead, attack, or do anything ubtoward to you or your party.

Question;

Is it ok for the Lawful Good paladin to put his axe through one Goblin's head (selling potions etc) and take its' stuff on the basis that they are vermin?

Actually, I have to go with the Paladin on this one. :(

Why?

Well, a while a go I started a thread on this topic "Do Orcs = Evil?" Because, my intuition is that "Racism" is a classic "Lawful Evil" behavior. But, check out the response I got from Mr. Jacobs. :(

So, it follows that if "Goblins = Evil" then they can, and should, be slaughtered without compuction - reguardless of their current actions!

I don't like it. My very being recoils from it as repulsive. But there is a certain midset that supports that action as good and just.


Tronos wrote:

You're in a Goblin market.

Tents and stalls line the streets, filled with everything from leatherwork to pots and pans. Sure, the goblin traders here drive a hard bargain, but they haven't tried to mislead, attack, or do anything ubtoward to you or your party.

Question;

Is it ok for the Lawful Good paladin to put his axe through one Goblin's head (selling potions etc) and take its' stuff on the basis that they are vermin?

No. I would have him instantly and irrevocably lose all his powers.

Murder is an evil act.
If he had proof against the goblin, then he needed to do whatever the local law & his church decreed.
If he doesn't have proof and isn't defending his own or another person's life it is an evil act.


No. Evil does not equal dangerous. Have you read murder mysteries? oftentimes, the man who was killed 'had it coming'. But, then again, he didn't. He/she was just an evil man who wasn't actually a murderer, but the murdered. Would you call the murderer justified? Would you let the murderer go?
Anyways, how would the paladin know that the goblin is evil? That's racism/speciesism, and that can't be good.


Tronos wrote:
Is it ok for the Lawful Good paladin to put his axe through one Goblin's head (selling potions etc) and take its' stuff on the basis that they are vermin?

Of course not, paladins get smite evil, not smite vermin. Besides, a goblin is humanoid. :)


Is it murder? Depends on the laws of the land. Do goblin(oids) have legal rights? Murder is a legal term, not a moral one technically. Was this particular goblin evil (as per paladin's detect evil ability)? Did goblins have rights or are they considered enemies of the state? What are the laws of the lands with regards to goblins (take them prisoner, treat the same as other more desireable humanoids, give reward for their scalps)?

If goblin(oid)s have legal rights, then the paladin could be in trouble with the lawful part of his code (respect legitimate authority).

If the goblin was not evil (or didn't detect as such), then the paladin could get in trouble with the good parts.

Now I know that people may say that just being evil isn't reason enough to kill someone, but consider something. Being evil is reason enough to condemn their soul to be in the hellfires forever. Is that more of a condemnation of their acts than killing them or less? If you say stealing candy from a baby makes someone evil, but that killing them isn't appropriate for that act, why is condemn them to the hellfires appropriate for it (giving them an evil alignment)?


Killing without valid reason is an evil act. A paladin's job is to fight evil, killing a random merchant won't acheive that.

Think of it this way, in the modern world we have criminals who the police know are criminals, but can't arrest them due to lack of evidence. To me, the paladin is in the same boat, as much as he might like to smite anyone evil, he should still wait for a valid evil act which justifies excecution. Otherwise he's no different from a random serial killer.


Nero24200 wrote:
Killing without valid reason is an evil act

Who gets to decide when a reason is valid?


Tronos wrote:
You're in a Goblin market.
Christina Rossetti wrote:

The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,

Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town:)

I'm sorry, I just couldn't let such an opportunity pass me by. In all fairness, I'll try to add a brief relevant comment on the question at hand.

As others have mentioned, since there's no proof yet that the goblins have done anything evil (or arguably even very naughty, depending on how important the bridge is), unless you're comfortable with having good compatible with the exclusion of sentient races/species from legal rights and protection in your campaign, I would say that the paladin would be breaking his code of conduct by splitting the skull of a random goblin. It depends on how closely you want to examine the morality of the campaign, I guess.

In terms of whether it matters if a random goblin is removed if they turn out to be evil (and will end up in the hells anyway), I think I would rule that even if, on a cosmic scale, killing a random goblin would reduce the amount of overall evil, it's a safe bet that doing so would not be the best way for a paladin to combat evil in her/his own world, since s/he can't know that that will be the result, while much evil is likely to result from ongoing violence between goblins and other humanoids. I think it's a question of what knowledge a paladin can reasonably be expected to act upon, the old "If by doing good you unwittingly set the conditions for greater evil to occur later, are you responsible?" problem.

Just some foolish thoughts. Sorry for wasting your time with Victorian poetry.


cool reference to the poem, I actually thought of that as well.

It is an interesting moral dilemma. And what if you add on someone like a ranger who has goblins as a racial enemy?


pres man wrote:
Now I know that people may say that just being evil isn't reason enough to kill someone, but consider something. Being evil is reason enough to condemn their soul to be in the hellfires forever. Is that more of a condemnation of their acts than killing them or less? If you say stealing candy from a baby makes someone evil, but that killing them isn't appropriate for that act, why is condemn them to the hellfires appropriate for it (giving them an evil alignment)?

I think it's rather important to note that the evil individual is condemning themselves to the hellfires. Whether there is just some abstract notion of "good" and "evil" in the cosmos, or whether it's up to the gods to decide (which may be the answer to the question in your second post), in D&D there are things which an individual can do which damn that individual to hellfire. Neither the paladin nor any other being on the Material Plane is condemning or has the power by some kind of decree to condemn anyone to such a fate. If the goblin ends up burning in the big fires below, it's not because of the paladin. Thus, I fail to see how the forecast for the goblin's afterlife has any bearing on the paladin's decision to smite him here and now in the market.


Here we go again, with the redundant "dilemna" of paladins.

In the great majority of cases, the problem doesn't come from the paladin as a character.
It comes from the player who acts like a fanatic.

Slaughtering in cold blood an unarmed merchant on a market is wrong.
Even if the merchant is evil. Or a goblin.

If a young human orphan steals an apple from a stand on the same market, his act registers as evil in terms of alignment and the paladin can detect it as such.
Is the paladin going to strike him where he stands because of this ?
No ? Why ? Because that's a poor little orphan ?
What makes him better than a goblin merchant ? The color of his skin ?

Paladins are not zealot slayers.
If they were, they wouldn't be paladins. Nor lawful good.


Seldriss wrote:
If a young human orphan steals an apple from a stand on the same market, his act registers as evil in terms of alignment and the paladin can detect it as such.

Overall, I agree with you. I would rule the orphan stealing from the marketplace as chaotic rather than evil, however.


Saern wrote:
Seldriss wrote:
If a young human orphan steals an apple from a stand on the same market, his act registers as evil in terms of alignment and the paladin can detect it as such.
Overall, I agree with you. I would rule the orphan stealing from the marketplace as chaotic rather than evil, however.

Agreed, it might even been good if it was done to save someone that was starving to death (urchin didn't have any money and has been rebuffed by his attempts to get aid already).

Also, one act does not an alignment make (usually).


Saern wrote:
pres man wrote:
Now I know that people may say that just being evil isn't reason enough to kill someone, but consider something. Being evil is reason enough to condemn their soul to be in the hellfires forever. Is that more of a condemnation of their acts than killing them or less? If you say stealing candy from a baby makes someone evil, but that killing them isn't appropriate for that act, why is condemn them to the hellfires appropriate for it (giving them an evil alignment)?
I think it's rather important to note that the evil individual is condemning themselves to the hellfires. Whether there is just some abstract notion of "good" and "evil" in the cosmos, or whether it's up to the gods to decide (which may be the answer to the question in your second post), in D&D there are things which an individual can do which damn that individual to hellfire. Neither the paladin nor any other being on the Material Plane is condemning or has the power by some kind of decree to condemn anyone to such a fate. If the goblin ends up burning in the big fires below, it's not because of the paladin. Thus, I fail to see how the forecast for the goblin's afterlife has any bearing on the paladin's decision to smite him here and now in the market.

Sorry, I wasn't as clear as I could have been. If the gaming group (or just the DM depending on the dynamics involved), as assigned certain types of individuals as evil, then they have decided that those types of individuals are condemned to the hellfires. In one gaming group, stealing for any reason could be decides to be evil, and individuals that do that enough can be condemned in that game, while in another game it might just be considered chaotic or neutral even. So the group is in some sense condemning the type of character. So my point was more of a metagame one, if the gaming group is willing to condemn certain types of characters to the hellfire, why are those individuals not worthy of being smited by a passing paladin? Do players seriously consider being killed as being more burdensome than being sent to the hellfires?

As for the relationship between the paladin's behavior and the final destination of individuals, remember that paladins are required to see the guilty be punished. The universe (through the prism of the gaming group) has judged and condemned evil individuals already. The paladin in that case is just seeing they are punished. This isn't a matter of difference of opinion, this is an objective fact within the game world (anyone who can cast detect evil can verify if someone is evil).

EDIT: Let's change the conditions of the situation for a second. Instead of an evil goblin (yeah I know we haven't verified that the goblin was in fact evil), there is a fiend running the stand? Would the paladin have been wrong for smiting the fiend if he was just running the stand?


Just for the record, I was playing the monk that was involved in that scenario. And to fill you all in, this is the lead-up to the killing.

The party is hired through an adventurers' guild to investigate a situation in the name of the king. The party will be the agents of the king and will be able to do whatever they like in the name of the king, as long as they can justify it to their superiors afterwards.

The situation is that a goblin caravan market has set up at a river crossing, with some kobold merchants there as well. The original, somewhat dilapidated bridge at the crossing has been destroyed by persons unknown. There have also been disappearances of travellers.

The party arrives and finds the bridge was destroyed by tools, having been chipped away from the underneath until it fell down. The goblins have built two new bridges a short distance up river, setting up their market in between them. The kobolds have a small number of merchants on the other side of the river.

The goblins and kobolds don't really like each other but are tolerant, saying only that each other produces inferior goods, overcharges etc. The market has been at the location for some months now.

The party must try to find out whether the goblins:

(a) were responsible for destroying the original bridge;
(b) are charging a toll for crossing the new bridges (illegal);
(c) are waylaying/robbing/killing travellers.

The party decides to take (initially) a softly-softly approach, chatting to all manner of goblin merchants, the caravan leader, kobolds etc. No dice. Either these guys are all great liars (got some 18-20 sense motive checks) or they don't know anything.

Frustrated, the party starts grasping at straws, and here is where it turns interesting.

The wizard, after checking out the magic item tent, is shown a somewhat shrivelled human hand attached to a silver amulet/chain arrangement, which can apparently make things move. The wizard decides that traficking in human body parts is against the law and decides to cast daze on the goblin merchant.

The monk who is watching says hang on, why don't we ask him to come quietly for interrogation instead of going in with spells and trying to snatch him. A non-lethal strike and a great will save by the goblin later, nothing has happened and the wizard decides to pull out the big one, a sleep spell (we are level 2). The monk says he will stop the wizard again so the wizard decides to go back to town instead (in a huff! LOL)

Meanwhile, the paladin who has been distancing himself from the rest of the party (to better investigate things) has struck up a conversation with a goblin potion merchant. The merchant has a couple of gentle repose potions, invisibility, silence(?) and healing potions. Is offering to sell the lot for about 900gp.

The monk trundles up and asks to have a look at the potion-making gear. As far as the monk's untrained eye can see, it looks legit, with a cauldron bubbling away and various ingrediants lying around.

As the monk goes off to buy some bandages elsewhere, the paladin says to the goblin that he will buy all the potions. The goblin wants to see the money first but the paladin says, no, you get all the potions down from the shelf first and I'll show you the money then. The goblin reluctantly turns to get the potions from the shelf and finds a dwarven axe suddenly embedded in his skull. He takes 10hp and falls.

The palading then sacks up the potions, wipes his axe and clothing to get rid of most of the blood, and walks out of the tent.

The monk, who having heard the goblin's death scream, had rushed up to see what had happened, was told by the paladin (who had a clinking sack over his shoulder and a spray of blood down his front) - no need to look in the tent, nothing to see there. Looks in the tent anyway and sees carnage.

The session ended with a nearby goblin merchant, who had also heard the scream, seeing the dead goblin when the monk lifted the tent flap to look in.

Now, the paladin justifies his actions basically by saying:

1. Goblins are considered to be a nuisance, vermin etc (which is true we are told);

2. Goblins cannot be citizens (which whilst we haven't seen a goblin citizen may or may not be so);

3. Goblins are a lower form of life than superior beings such as humans and dwarves;

4. The dead goblin had no reason to have so many expensive items;

5. The dead goblin died too easily to have been a high-enough level wizard/cleric in order to brew such potions;

6. The paladin was just taking the potions to hand over to the city;

7. The reason why the paladin killed the goblin instead of demanding the potions was that he didn't want to draw unwanted attention to the incident.

Anyway, I am thinking that in the game world, those actions would be considered a bit extreme but in reality no-one is going to lay charges over a dead goblin in the middle of the wilderness.

However, I think that the paladin acted wrongly. But, if he acted according to his own moral code, what come-back will he suffer?

Difficult indeed!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would say he actually acted very wrongly from the SRD

Code of Conduct

A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

I would say just by going by the bolded part that what he did was far from Honourable. I'm pretty sure killing someone just to take his potions is a violation of a Paladins code. I would also say that he broke the code when he lied to the goblin (Since it seems he had no intention of buying the potions from the Goblin)


Strangely enough, and probably much to the surprise of the other gamers in this particular group, I am going to side with the Pally on this one.

The Pally in question follows the God of Nature. This is a homebrew setting and does not form one of the pre-cut official campaign settings.

One of the essential tenets of the faith of the God of Nature is effectively: Law of the Jungle. The strongest shall survive. This lawman is not a disciple of the God of Law - bound to uphold the institutions of law, but only the law itself.

The Pally sees it pretty plainly. He IS the law. He IS Judge Dredd, for want of a more appropriate metaphor.

The situation is summed up pretty quickly. We are outside the city-state, but we are within the realm. Conclusions are drawn about how a goblin could afford to purchase the items that he is purportedly selling, or how he could possibly brew the items in question. No logical answer exists. Conclusive evidence? No. Pretty substantial circumstantial evidence, yes.

Did the Pally in question use his 'Detect Evil' ability beforehand? I don't believe so.

But in any event, he has upheld the tenets of his faith - Law of the Jungle. So Lawful.

Good you ask? Greater good in these circumstances. How did the goblin acquire the materials? Has he been involved in or complicit in the murder or thievery of others to acquire these items? Quite probably. Will the world be a safer place without such villiany in the realm, absolutely. Has the strongest prevailed in this circumstance, to the benefit of the Jungle? Putting flamesuit on here, yes.

If it were a human brigand on the highway doing exactly the same thing? Same result. Race isn't the issue.

P.S. Do I think the player involved has deliberately taken a Pally, and taken these actions, just so he can play with people's thoughts on the whole notion of alignment? Abso-f*&%ing-lutely.


Zambayoshi wrote:

Now, the paladin justifies his actions basically by saying:

1. Goblins are considered to be a nuisance, vermin etc (which is true we are told);

2. Goblins cannot be citizens (which whilst we haven't seen a goblin citizen may or may not be so);

3. Goblins are a lower form of life than superior beings such as humans and dwarves;

4. The dead goblin had no reason to have so many expensive items;

5. The dead goblin died too easily to have been a high-enough level wizard/cleric in order to brew such potions;

6. The paladin was just taking the potions to hand over to the city;

7. The reason why the paladin killed the goblin instead of demanding the potions was that he didn't want to draw unwanted attention to the incident.

I'm not going to get into if the Paladin acted correctly for his faith/code of conduct, because it sounds as if s/he was...

But as a frequent player of "thugish" characters, that does sound like the Paladin was acting like a thug.

And a few of those reasons seem... false.

As to the original question, it depends on the definition of civilised... Most social elite will say "no," but since they have a society - a civilisation, of sorts - the point is debatable. Both in game and out.


pres man wrote:
EDIT: Let's change the conditions of the situation for a second. Instead of an evil goblin (yeah I know we haven't verified that the goblin was in fact evil), there is a fiend running the stand? Would the paladin have been wrong for smiting the fiend if he was just running the stand?

This again? :)

For once, I'm going to have to agree with you (or come down on a side of the argument I assume you agree with) and say that I would at least expect a paladin to investigate why a fiend was running a shop in these circumstances, since it would be a highly unusual situation. More to the point, if the fiend was engaged in an activity which was, so far as the paladin could tell, completely harmless with no clear intent to do harm (it being a fiend and assuming that as such it automatically seeks to do harm not withstanding), then I would say it would be wrong for the paladin to just attack the fiend. It doesn't matter how horrible the creature is, the paladin himself must uphold a standard of conduct and who or what he's fighting doesn't change that.

Li7hium wrote:
Law of the Jungle.

I think whether the "Law of the Jungle" constitutes anything which could be termed "law" in the D&D sense is extremely debatable. If a player twists definitions and conditions around until they support whatever point he desires, that doesn't necessarily create a valid argument. Playing with people's expectations is one thing. Outright violation of "the rules" is another.

I wholeheartedly say the paladin was in the wrong, even moreso after reading the details provided above.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Lying to a goblin to hit him in the back of the head with an axe?

Sounds exactly like he broke the "Act Honourably" tenet of the Paladin code. If I was his DM he'd lose his class features until such time as he could redeem himself.

A paladin has a responsibility to act within the rule of Law and Good equally. Murdering a goblin and taking his stuff without hard evidence that the goblin had committed a crime or an evil deed means he has only fulfilled half of his duty punishment without proving crime.

BUT that said, I'm not the DM, and it's not my game world. If he acted within the bounds of the game world "he IS the law" then there is no conflict. But it's a slippery slope. Having the power to BE the law can justify practically any action.


Lying to the goblin to kill and rob him, extremely questionable.

Lying to the monk ally when he came up and asked what was going on, over the line.

Code is violated, paladin falls and must seek redemption. Falling isn't the end of the world, but it looks like somebody is trying for Blackguard to me.

The Exchange

Li7hium wrote:

One of the essential tenets of the faith of the God of Nature is effectively: Law of the Jungle. The strongest shall survive. This lawman is not a disciple of the God of Law - bound to uphold the institutions of law, but only the law itself.

The Pally sees it pretty plainly. He IS the law. He IS Judge Dredd, for want of a more appropriate metaphor.

Now retyping from memory because some one rang me and cut off the internet...

The Paladin is not Judge Dredd, he is a Brute.

He is in violation of the 'Law of the Jungle'. Ps it is not 'the strongest shall survive' it is 'the fittest shall survive' and that refers to a 'mental fitness' - those capable of coping with change and adapting. Having lashed out and killed in a 'jungle' where the law abhors murder and slaughter the 'brute' who draws attention to himself as being a threat to others is ultimately put down, not allowed to proliferate.

So your Paladin of Nature is not even capable of the intelligence and Wisdom required to comprehend a 'law of the Jungle' culture? Boy is he going to be the centre of attention.


No intention to rob.

And I don't think he lied to the monk, just said there was nothing to see here. That is, the scene was over, justice was administered, nothing further needed to be done.

Quote: "Ps it is not 'the strongest shall survive' it is 'the fittest shall survive' and that refers to a 'mental fitness' - those capable of coping with change and adapting. "

I respectfully disagree with your notion that it is only mental fitness. Please rememer, this Pally's religion, its code, is the way of the jungle, of survival of the fittest. The pally has previously not aided others in battle due to that core belief, that is, if you are worthy, then you will be triumphant. If you aren't, then nature takes you.

Do I LIKE what the Pally did? No.

Do I accept that there is a roleplaying basis behind what the character did? Yes.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Hmmm ... I'm having trouble seeing a Paladin following the "Law of the Jungle" ...

From Wiki: "The Law of the Jungle" is usually an expression that means "every man for himself," "anything goes," "survival of the strongest", "survival of the fittest" and "eat or get eaten".

However, Rudyard Kipling in The Jungle Book uses it to mean an actual law code used by wolves and other animals in the jungles of India.

The Law of the Jungle by Kipling can be found here.

But regardless of what "Law" this paladin if following, I do not see how he acted for the "Good" and he'd be losing his powers if I were the GM as well.

The Exchange

70. THE FRUIT TRADE

“Hoyuk! Hoyuk! Apricota!” The old Goblin cried out amongst the market sellers. His fruit cart teemed with beautiful, fresh fruit, certainly a far cry from the withered and spotted fruits that filled the small containers of regular sellers.
“Hoyuk! Hoyuk! Apricota!” The Cart pushed through the crowd. A few stopped him to purchase his cheap yet quality wares.
Gregor looked it over.
“That is a rather nice fruit selection.” The old Goblin smiled at the compliment.
“YesYes! You buy!”
“Well they are very nice…”
“Ah…You wish buy Shatu.” The Goblin nodded and pulled a Bottle of the Goblin made Liquer…
“Only ten gold coin.” The exchange was made.

DM Briefing: The Goblins have come to town to sell a vast crop of fruits, nuts, both dried and fresh, as well as a rather fruity alcoholic beverage called Shatu. After considerable negotiation with the leaders of the town (and an agreement to pay the Mayor half their profits), the Goblins are allowed to sell their wares in the Market Place. The Fruit causes the Populace to transform permanently into Goblins at the next new Moon. The PCS are in a position to cure everyone and prevent the take-over. The Shatu is in-fact a cure to the effect, although it must be drunk regularly to prevent future transformation.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Wow. Really? This is one of the most flagrant violations of a paladin's code of conduct I've read in all the years I've been gaming.

First of all, unless you're using the variant rules for paladins of different alignments, the DM shouldn't allow a paladin to follow a non-LG deity. It always leads to behavior like this. I recently had somebody brag to me about how their paladin got away with killing a child for swearing inside a church to their god of death. Need I say more?

Aside from that, regardless of deity or nationality, a paladin is supposed to be a symbol of the highest ideals of moral society. Racially profiling a goblin and then tricking him into turning his back on you so you can strike him from behind, steal his belongings and then attempt to cover up the murder is not the behavior of a champion of honor and virtue.

A paladin is entrusted with powers and abilities beyond those of simpler warriors. A good paladin shows restraint whereas a fallen paladin shows none.

*And Judge Dredd, not Lawful Good. Up until recent stories Dredd was absolutely Lawful Neutral. Now that he's in his 60's and he's been diagnosed with cancer, he's only softened a little bit.*


Li7hium wrote:


One of the essential tenets of the faith of the God of Nature is effectively: Law of the Jungle. The strongest shall survive. This lawman is not a disciple of the God of Law - bound to uphold the institutions of law, but only the law itself.

The Pally sees it pretty plainly. He IS the law. He IS Judge Dredd, for want of a more appropriate metaphor.

Exactly. Judge, jury, executioner. And further; MAKER OF LAWS when needs be. Not that any of this legal non-sence means anything if the creature killed is unter menchen. If it was a lion that had slain a family, it would be brought to justice also.

Li7hium wrote:


The situation is summed up pretty quickly. We are outside the city-state, but we are within the realm. Conclusions are drawn about how a goblin could afford to purchase the items that he is purportedly selling, or how he could possibly brew the items in question. No logical answer exists. Conclusive evidence? No. Pretty substantial circumstantial evidence, yes.

Did the Pally in question use his 'Detect Evil' ability beforehand? I don't believe so.

But in any event, he has upheld the tenets of his faith - Law of the Jungle. So Lawful.

Good you ask? Greater good in these circumstances. How did the goblin acquire the materials? Has he been involved in or complicit in the murder or thievery of others to acquire these items? Quite probably. Will the world be a safer place without such villiany in the realm, absolutely. Has the strongest prevailed in this circumstance, to the benefit of the Jungle? Putting flamesuit on here, yes.

If it were a human brigand on the highway doing exactly the same thing? Same result. Race isn't the issue.

I disagree, for the lion scenario above, however human brigand as also being OK is an interesting gedanken.

Li7hium wrote:


P.S. Do I think the player involved has deliberately taken a Pally, and taken these actions, just so he can play with people's thoughts on the whole notion of alignment? Abso-f*&%ing-lutely.

cheers big ears :P

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Velcro Zipper wrote:
Wow. Really? This is one of the most flagrant violations of a paladin's code of conduct I've read in all the years I've been gaming.

Which brings me back to my earlier post about the dangers of actually playing a Paladin.

Velcro Zipper wrote:

First of all, unless you're using the variant rules for paladins of different alignments, the DM shouldn't allow a paladin to follow a non-LG deity. It always leads to behavior like this. I recently had somebody brag to me about how their paladin got away with killing a child for swearing inside a church to their god of death. Need I say more?

Aside from that, regardless of deity or nationality, a paladin is supposed to be a symbol of the highest ideals of moral society. Racially profiling a goblin and then tricking him into turning his back on you so you can strike him from behind, steal his belongings and then attempt to cover up the murder is not the behavior of a champion of honor and virtue.

Except, that the Paladin was not born in a Modern Culture. Do modern values apply?

For example (from that link):
"the group consisting of two Texans, a Louisianan, a French-raised American and a Brazilian. When the protagonist of the show pulled out his personal pistol and shot a guy about to cause somebody else harm, the Texans and Louisianan applauded the action as the act of a good Samaritan. In those states, citizens didn't have reliable police services at one time and had to protect themselves from Indian raiders, and troublemakers. The French-raised American and the Brazilian were both horrified and thought they saw an act of barbarity, since the protagonist shot the guy rather then trying to talk him down."

The point is ideas like "Racial Profiling" (and the wrongness of it) are modern ideas.

"The only good Indians I ever saw were dead." - Gen. Philip Sheridan. At the time this statement (and the thinking behind it) was not considered either radical or wrong.

So, no the question is not so easy as it may sound.


Lord Fyre's example is another where the victim of the killing is of a race/species that is assumed to be of equal value as a being as the killer.

Lord Fyre wrote:


For example (from that link):
"the group consisting of two Texans, a Louisianan, a French-raised American and a Brazilian. When the protagonist of the show pulled out his personal pistol and shot a guy about to cause somebody else harm, the Texans and Louisianan applauded the action as the act of a good Samaritan. In those states, citizens didn't have reliable police services at one time and had to protect themselves from Indian raiders, and troublemakers. The French-raised American and the Brazilian were both horrified and thought they saw an act of barbarity, since the protagonist shot the guy rather then trying to talk him down."

the Paladin would argue that goblinoids even though humanoid, are NOT in anyway considered peers or equals, and in fact have the same or lower status than animals, therefore while killing one for no reason is a dubious act it is not unlawful. In this case the paladin had a reason, even though it may have been based on "evidence" that was some what "circumstantial". Further at worst it could be considered a neutral act and not evil. there was no torture nor undue/prolonged harm caused by the act. Infact by minimising the implications to the rest of the goblins immediate health (also being sllain) by attempting to bring justice for the potential crimes in a quiet manner he reduced the amount of harm needing to be caused.

At this point (if only because it has not been addressed earlier to my recollection) it should be noted that the paladin in question is a LEVEL 1 character and subduing the goblin any other way would have significantly increased the risk of the situation considerably.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

raoul wrote:
Lord Fyre's example is another where the victim of the killing is of a race/species that is assumed to be of equal value as a being as the killer.

You are missing the point of what I said. What I am saying is that "Good" & "Evil" are not so clear cut and have radically changed over time.

General Sheridan (and the people of the United States in general) also did not consider the Native Americans to be "of a race/species that is assumed to be of equal value as a being as the killer".

Today we see that as a horribly evil attitude (and I believe rightly). If we were playing back then we would likely have seen things differently?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I was being facetious when I claimed the paladin racially profiled the goblin. I was only summing up that the paladin simply looked at the goblin and thought, "bad guy." He didn't attempt to detect evil and he didn't question the goblin about his business or ascertain the goblin's motives. Modernity had nothing to do with the post.

Besides, while racial profiling is a modern term, it isn't a modern idea. It's just another word for stereotyping and every culture since the dawn of history has been stereotyped by somebody else at some point.

I just think that, as symbols of honor and celestial virtue, a paladin needs to be able to recognize the difference between the law of the land and what is right. That doesn't mean he should ignore any law he doesn't agree with the way a Chaotic Good character would, but he should instead find a way to work within the law to reach a goal that is just. A lawful good character should do whatever brings the most benefit to the greater number of decent, thinking creatures and the least woe to the rest. I'm including this description of LG behavior because I agree with the author. I'm certain the dead goblin would agree that he was not afforded the least amount of woe.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There was no reason to murder the goblin though. He was not presenting an immediate threat to any citizen of the kingdom.

If it's discovered that the goblin's potions were legally obtained then what happens to the Paladin's class features?

Suddenly a goblin that's trying to make a living, support his innocent children is murdered brutally by a big, pink racist paladin. Hit in the back with an axe. Even on a textual basis, folk that stab folk in the back are never considered honorable.

But like I said, not my game world, and the DM's decision is final.


First Apologies to Lord Fyre, I should have rrealised that the native american vs white american relationship at the time would have been simmilar to when australia was declared Terra Nullis by the first white settlers.

Velcro Zipper wrote:


He didn't attempt to detect evil and he didn't question the goblin about his business or ascertain the goblin's motives.

although some questioning was done (the gobbo claims he can make them himself) it is irrelevant as the paladin does not beleive a gobbo with no obvious signs of living a profitable life should have in excess of 900gp of items of any type.

let alone that ANY gobbo should be able to own 90 years worth of human wages in items.

Velcro Zipper wrote:

Besides, while racial profiling is a modern term, it isn't a modern idea. It's just another word for stereotyping and every culture since the dawn of history has been stereotyped by somebody else at some point.

Since when is stereotyping unlawful or nongood in D&D?? what do PCs do when they see a vampire/drow/centaur/nymph/angel/avatar of their god?

Velcro Zipper wrote:

I just think that, as symbols of honor and celestial virtue, a paladin needs to be able to recognize the difference between the law of the land and what is right.

fair comment. but what is right? this paladin beleives that the way of natural selection and nature generally is right.

it follows distinct laws that are unbaised by the thoughts of "man" and is for all intents and purposes pure.

Velcro Zipper wrote:

That doesn't mean he should ignore any law he doesn't agree with the way a Chaotic Good character would, but he should instead find a way to work within the law to reach a goal that is just. A lawful good character should do whatever brings the most benefit to the greater number of decent, thinking creatures and the least woe to the rest. I'm including this description of LG behavior because I agree with the author. I'm certain the dead goblin would agree that he was not afforded the least amount of woe.

the paladin would certainly state that he worked within the law of the land to do what was right I.E. return the valuable item to the populace that was most likely the origional owner since the recent deaths on the road probably mean the actuall owners are no longer able to receive them. In relation to least woe... had the level one paladin done any less he would have needed to bring more woe to the entire camp.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:


There was no reason to murder the goblin though. He was not presenting an immediate threat to any citizen of the kingdom.

If it's discovered that the goblin's potions were legally obtained then what happens to the Paladin's class features?

Suddenly a goblin that's trying to make a living, support his innocent children is murdered brutally by a big, pink racist paladin. Hit in the back with an axe. Even on a textual basis, folk that stab folk in the back are never considered honorable.

But like I said, not my game world, and the DM's decision is final.

Surely a persons actions should be judged based on how they acted with the knowlege they had at the time??

a gobbo is not a person they are animals. the paladin does not suffer this moral complaint.


Killing a humanoid who was not evil, was not performing an evil act (nor an unlawful act as far as we know), and was not attempting to be obstructive to the killer... I don't think all the justification in the world can prevent that act being wrong.

If the paladin had even pulled out his axe and said: "I must confiscate those potions as I believe they were ill-gotten. Hand them over or die", that would have been marginally better!

Prepare an action to clock the goblin if he looks like shouting for help, even.

I think the biggest thing is that whilst the prevailing morals and laws in the fantasy world in question may not view the action as evil or wrong, it is very difficult to avoid metagaming and feeling uncomfortable as a player when that kind of stuff goes down. I mean, in Germany in the 1930s certain things were legal and acceptable that a lot of people now consider abhorrent not to mention illegal...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
raoul wrote:
Since when is stereotyping unlawful or nongood in D&D?? what do PCs do when they see a vampire/drow/centaur/nymph/angel/avatar of their god?

I didn't say stereotyping a creature was unlawful, nongood or even neutral. I just said that's what the paladin did and provided options for what he could have done instead. Having a preconcieved notion of what a creature is going act like doesn't have alot to do with alignment. It's how you react based on your notion that does.

raoul wrote:

this paladin beleives that the way of natural selection and nature generally is right.

it follows distinct laws that are unbaised by the thoughts of "man" and is for all intents and purposes pure.

This just goes back to what I wrote earlier about paladins following deities who aren't LG. Granted, I don't know the alignment of this nature god, but it doesn't sound LG. Natural selection usually shows no compassion and compassion is an example of LG behavior.

raoul wrote:
the paladin would certainly state that he worked within the law of the land to do what was right I.E. return the valuable item to the populace that was most likely the origional owner since the recent deaths on the road probably mean the actuall owners are no longer able to receive them. In relation to least woe... had the level one paladin done any less he would have needed to bring more woe to the entire camp.

From the account given, the paladin still hasn't proven the goblin had anything to do with the missing people. All he's really accomplished is the unprovoked killing of a goblin and the taking of its loot. We'll never know what might have happened if the level one paladin had done something else because he didn't. Perhaps the goblin would have spilled his guts about the kobolds across the river destroying the bridge and murdering the travelers in exchange for a cut of the goblins' profits or offered the paladin a cup of tea to calm his nerves? Maybe the goblin would have caved into the paladin's intimidation and hired a gnome lawyer to sue the adventurers later? It's all speculation since the paladin chose to bury an axe in the goblin's head.


hmmmmmmmmm interesting

Velcro Zipper wrote:


Having a preconcieved notion of what a creature is going act like doesn't have alot to do with alignment. It's how you react based on your notion that does.

raoul wrote:

this paladin beleives that the way of natural selection and nature generally is right.

it follows distinct laws that are unbaised by the thoughts of "man" and is for all intents and purposes pure.
Velcro Zipper wrote:


This just goes back to what I wrote earlier about paladins following deities who aren't LG. Granted, I don't know the alignment of this nature god, but it doesn't sound LG. Natural selection usually shows no compassion and compassion is an example of LG behavior.

i fail to understand why compassion is a lawful behaviour. the law does not dictate compassion, instead it sets typically explicit and sometime extreemly non-compassionate rules for punshment of crime. example, steal a loaf of bread, lose your hand. is this compassionate? one would need to display elements of chaotic behavior to not dole out legal punishment.

Velcro Zipper wrote:

From the account given, the paladin still hasn't proven the goblin had anything to do with the missing people. All he's really accomplished is the unprovoked killing of a goblin and the taking of its loot.

proof isnt a paladins burden. the concept of innocent until proven guilty is not applicable to the laws of the realm, nor is it the way of nature.

the fact that you refer to the possessions of the goblin as being loot indicates exactly why the paladin beleived what he did.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
raoul wrote:
i fail to understand why compassion is a lawful behaviour. the law does not dictate compassion, instead it sets typically explicit and sometime extreemly non-compassionate rules for punshment of crime. example, steal a loaf of bread, lose your hand. is this compassionate? one would need to display elements of chaotic behavior to not dole out legal punishment.

That's because, by itself Compassion is only indicative of Good behavior. However, following the letter of the law without compassion is Lawful Neutral behavior. In the example you've provided the law says a person who steals a loaf of bread has their hand cut off. Well, somebody had to devise this law before it could be enforced. Likely, somebody who wanted to dole out a serious, but not excessive, punishment for a minor crime with little compassion for the future of the accused. Had the law been written by someone with more compassion, the punishment would be less severe. When it comes down to the person who must enforce this law and has no part in the creation of such, that person can act without compassion (LN) and take the hand of the thief or seek out a means within the law to lessen the punishment or, at the very least, lessen the pain (LG.) That's the difference between Lawful Good and Lawful Neutral. A person can follow the letter of the law and remain compassionate by seeing that the law is compassionate. Does that help?

raoul wrote:

proof isnt a paladins burden. the concept of innocent until proven guilty is not applicable to the laws of the realm, nor is it the way of nature.

the fact that you refer to the possessions of the goblin as being loot indicates exactly why the paladin beleived what he did.

But truth and honor are the burdens of a paladin and providing evidence brings one closer to finding the truth. The way of nature, as I pointed out, isn't Lawful Good. From the sound of it, the law of the realm isn't Lawful Good either.

I say the goblin's belongings are loot because the paladin looted him. The way a robber loots a store after murdering the shopkeep.

Everything you're describing to me sounds closer to Lawful Neutral behavior. If the paladin were chaotic or evil, he may not have bothered to ask any of the goblins anything and simply enlisted some men to help him burn down the entire market and kill all the goblins. Given his excuses for killing the goblin, I'm surprised he didn't do just that. He certainly seems to think he would have been within his rights to do so.

Anyway, it's been fun but I'm up way past my bedtime. I hope you now undertstand my position. If I decide to debate this any further, I'll be referring to the paladin as "the fighter."

Silver Crusade

What Measure Is A Non-Human at work, folks. I think the biggest disconnect here is between people who see goblins as people, however different they may be, and those who see them solely as monsters.

That and it shouldn't be a surprise that people get uncomfortable about the term "untermensch" being applied.

I can't say I'm sold on "survival of the fittest" being a viable paladin's code either. Some(not all) druids might go in for that, but LG paladins?

If it was my campaign, the pally would have fallen on the spot, and he'd have murder charges brought up against him as soon as possible. Possibly multiple if he decided to get violent with the first goblin or orc guard that tried to arrest him. I wonder how he'd react to the orc and tiefling paladins that have passed through my games...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

See that's where you and I differ in opinion. Proof is the paladin's burden, because without proof he's not eking justice he's just murdering. Even the "law of the jungle" is about indiscriminate killing. A paladin who decides he has the right to decide who lives or dies based on genetics? Sounds like something that presents a threat to the entire community.

In any case killing the goblin without finding proof of misdeeds is only doing half the job. At the very least he's a lazy paladin for not completing an entire investigation before pronouncing judgement. That's the rule of law. One that prevents vigilantism, which is what the paladin in this situation has partaken in.

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