Kill the bad guys and take their stuff?


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Scarab Sages

I know that this is an archetypal activity in Fantasy RPGs, but the recent thread about what makes assassins evil has me revisiting my general unease with the idea that this is the basic premise of what adventurers do. When running my own games, I have tried to steer clear of this trope:

I try to make sure that violence between PCs and NPCs is justifiably motivated, most often by self defense.

Intelligent creatures don't engage in head-on violence without a good reason.

Intelligent creatures rarely fight to the death.

I avoid overuse of monstrous humanoids.

I give the heroes more bestial kinds of Monsters to battle.

Also - I try to arrange things so that looting intelligent creatures is not overly profitable. Most of the big rewards come from quest completion.

The occasional bit of monty-haul dungeoneering is fun, but I prefer the bulk of my game to cast the players in a suitably heroic light. How does this compare with your own experiences?


Looting humanoid creatures is profitable because most humanoid creatures are build morely or lessly just like the humanoid heroes who are going after them.

That is to say: soft, squishy, chewy in the middle with a distinct lack of offense or defense aside from .. things that are profitable to sell.

Toss a naked goblin at the group and it isn't even a marginal challenge. Toss some gear on the little bugger and he's actually a threat.

The same is true for orcs, hobgoblins, bugbears, and the like. If you don't put things on them that are profitable to sell then the PC's very quickly outgrow their ability to fight them meaningfully.

There are creatures with natural armors and weapons for just this reason: you can use alot of them without giving the PC's any meangingful loot.

Keep in mind however that there is very, very little difference between:

King: go kill 20 orcs and bring back their scalps, I'll pay you 20 silver per head.

and

"We went out and killed those orcs who were marauding the town and the caravans heading out to Caravanland. We got a pretty decent haul too- turns out those orcs had quite a little stash on them from all their recent raiding".

Heroism isn't how you get paid. Its going to do a job regardless of getting paid, getting thanked, or anyone at all ever even knowing you did the job.
"The goblins are attacking the city, lets go get them!" is heroic.

"I'll pay you 200 gold to clear out the goblins" isn't. At least- not if that is the sole reason they are going there. That is mercenary not heroism.

-S

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Very rarely do I have intelligent humanoids attack on sight. When they do, its usually because whatever they're doing cannot be exposed or it will mean their death. They also usually don't fight to the death unless they cannot see a way out.

This means I usually have to roleplay characters that the module expects to die without interacting with the PCs. But that's my job as the DM. And it can lead the session into really interesting places.

Plus it's always fun to see the players reactions when the monster asks what they want.

Dark Archive

RPGs definitely started with this disguised home invasion idea. And since it's evil monsters' homes, it's okay to kick down their doors, and slay them where they stand. After many years, many players, many DMs, ultimately, I find D&D style games still fit this mold. Even with my DMs creating a realistic ecology and social behaviors, it's still good vs. evil in the end.

I actually cannot remember a single campaign that I've been in where it wasn't ultimately good vs. evil. Or evil vs. good in one evil campaign I was in.


Having sympathy for goblins/orcs/hobgoblins etc. is silly. If they had their way, they would completely wipe out or enslave every human/dwarf/elf, man/woman/child in the world. There is no compromise here, no moral relativism. Just think how vile these creatures would be if they were real. It kind of reminds me of how some people wish they were vampires. Seriously, a vamp is a demonic CORPSE. I wouldn't mind their abilities, but I wouldn't want to be one. And frankly if they existed they would have to hunted down. Alignment conflicts are best left between the player races themselves. Just food for thought.


Rynath wrote:
Having sympathy for goblins/orcs/hobgoblins etc. is silly. If they had their way, they would completely wipe out or enslave every human/dwarf/elf, man/woman/child in the world. There is no compromise here, no moral relativism. Just think how vile these creatures would be if they were real.

They's terrrrists! =O


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, perhaps we could indefinitely detain them under the Patriot Act and merely confiscate their gear as evidence in a later trial that will never actually happen.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I guess if we want to discuss games that don't have non-human monsters as vile, Always Chaotic Evil creatures, we shouldn't be in the Pathfinder RPG discussion...


Rynath wrote:
Having sympathy for goblins/orcs/hobgoblins etc. is silly. If they had their way, they would completely wipe out or enslave every human/dwarf/elf, man/woman/child in the world. There is no compromise here, no moral relativism. Just think how vile these creatures would be if they were real. It kind of reminds me of how some people wish they were vampires. Seriously, a vamp is a demonic CORPSE. I wouldn't mind their abilities, but I wouldn't want to be one. And frankly if they existed they would have to hunted down. Alignment conflicts are best left between the player races themselves. Just food for thought.

+1

Besides, it would kill the economy of most game worlds if adventures didn't come back with loads of stuff from their fallen adversaries. :)
And we need to begin a purge of the demonic corpses...


One must remember that Pathfinder is the kind of game where you're expected (indeed, all but required!) to play racist, hypocritical mass murderers and grave robbers.Why, just look at the sheer word count devoted to combat stuff compared to noncombat stuff. That's what the game is all about.

On a similar note, I just looked at several random pages of The History by Herodotus. The two largest categories of words seemed to be articles and prepositions; therefore, it's obvious that Herodotus was primarily concerned with a, an, and the, as well as the temporal, spatial, or logical relationships of objects to the rest of the sentences in which they appear.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Interesting comparison about how the rules don't enforce a murder-sim style of play. How does that address the OPs concern about players enforcing a murder-sim style of play?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

In general, in my games, I use more intelligent foes than creatures/animals. Mainly due to the fact they scale easier and more accurately for CR.

However, they are all intelligent and motivated antagonists. In general, they will not stay and fight an obviously losing battle (exceptions exist of course), they will surrender if given the opportunity if it's obvious they are going to lose and can't escape. In general, I play them like PCs.

Most often, those NPCs have a very good reason for what they are doing. Patrols of a hostile city-state, who pull weapons and close on armed strangers to demand knowledge of who they are and what they are doing in their country (unarmed or lightly armed travellers are less likely to be threatened).

Or they are slavers, or they are monstrous humanoids that attack all sentient creatures in their territory other than their own clan.

And yes, I do put them in gray areas. The roving army patrol who comes up to them looking for papers. Do the PCs attack or submit to being disarmed until they are investigated? Why should the world be black and white? Why is every goblin evil? Why is every hobgoblin evil? Why is every bandit evil? Robin Hood certainly wasn't, but adventurers could end up protecting a neutral merchant from Robin Hood, who's the bad guy in that scenario?


Title: Murder hobos.
Melody: Ghost Busters.

MURDER HOBOS!

If there's something strange, and it drops phat loot, who you gonna call? MURDER HOBOS!

If there's something bad, and it's XP too, who you gonna call? MURDER HOBOS!

I ain't fraid of no moral relativism!

Who you gonna call? MURDER HOBOS!

Murder makes me feel good!

I ain't fraid of no moral relativism!

etc.

Scarab Sages

Selgard wrote:

Keep in mind however that there is very, very little difference between:

King: go kill 20 orcs and bring back their scalps, I'll pay you 20 silver per head.

and

"We went out and killed those orcs who were marauding the town and the caravans heading out to Caravanland. We got a pretty decent haul too- turns out those orcs had quite a little stash on them from all their recent raiding".

I basically agree with this sentiment, but I'd like to note that I would present the scenario as: "A caravan was attacked on Old Forest road. 20 people were killed horribly. The handful of terrified survivors speak of terrible, monstrous creatures. This is the third caravan attacked in the last few months. One of them was destroyed utterly. The local Lord sent a patrol in, but they have yet to return. He offers a reward to any who can make the road safe..."

See, that's a chance for heroism. Maybe it's goblins, maybe it's orcs, maybe it's ogres. If you make sure there's enough of them and give them some home-field advantages, you don't need to weigh them down with magical tat and treasure to make them a threat to the PCs, and when the PCs return the stolen caravan goods and are rewarded as heroes, they don't have to feel like looters themselves.

I think a king who indiscriminately pays bounties on the heads of his enemies is probably a right S.O.B. himself and would make a better enemy for the PCs than ally.

And on the subject of Monstrous Humanoids, I'm very fond of the way Games Workshop currently handles it's Orcs and Goblins: they reproduce asexually, without family units, they basically pursue violence for it's own sake, they have no real civilization beyond roving murderous mobs, and they are completely devoid of any kind of empathy. They are proper "intelligent" monsters.

I was very happy when I saw the sidebar entry in the Bestiary about "The nature of goblinoid evil", which seemed to suggest a similar approach to these creatures: they are horror and nastiness in humanoid form.


The game I am currently running has very little valuable loot in from wondering encounters.
There arr serveral different groups of antagonists led by various intelligent beings.
There have been many recent encounters where the PC's have not received any loot at all as swamp creatues, hyrdas and wildlife dont tend to carry items...I try to make all gear they do find relivant and not on demand.
Last time they were in a city to trade they sold and aquired a few items but had not finished, when they were interrupted by a city seige.
They coukd have easily stolen items at that point but chose to run and get items later on. I think earning loot in a different manner is sometimes fun...they have just found a very nice conposite bow that has a high strengh bonus. So they at some point plan to get this altered so they can use it.


Wolfsnap wrote:
give them some home-field advantages

Ideally combat should rarely occur Final Fantasy style. Tucker's Kobolds are case in point.


I think it really depends on how the world is presented. If you run a game where "evil" humanoids have their culture defined, I find players are more willing to actually deal with them as the PCs have a reference on how to deal with them. If you run a game where you don't give the PCs some backgroud but start playing them as something more, most players will probably stay with the default Orc = Monster. There are ways to get around this in play by doing things like having a chance for the PCs to notice that the Orc warriors are fighting a holding action to let the rest of their village escape or describing the Orcs in a way that makes it clear that they are something the PCs had never heard of before or just heard stories about. Still, if you don't want Orc to equal Monster, you have to provide some reason why a PC shouldn't react by killing it and taking it's stuff.


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Skaorn wrote:

Still, if you don't want Orc to equal Monster, you have to provide some reason why a PC shouldn't react by killing it and taking it's stuff.

If you talk to them you might find out where their friends live.

Then you can kill them and their friends - and take more stuff.

*shakes fist*


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Even if PCs can't run around willy-nilly killing things and looting the bodies. Even if all your PC-NPC interactions are rich experiences with fully fleshed out motivations behind the responses to the players' actions. Nonetheless, they'll end up making enemies and acting against some groups - usually with violence (no?) and usually with the 'perk' of keeping a great deal of the magic or other loot the baddies had accumulated.

Ultimately, doesn't it boil down to killing whoever ends up being deemed 'bad guys' based on the situation the PCs find themselves in and then taking their stuff?


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Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.

;-)


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:


Ultimately, doesn't it boil down to killing whoever ends up being deemed 'bad guys' based on the situation the PCs find themselves in and then taking their stuff?

It doesn't have to. I ran a campaign where the PCs were from an isolated city, that hadn't had contact with the outside world (more than 20 miles from the city) in hundreds of years. Self proficient farms, mages, clerics enchanting silos to hold food for war (very martial mentality).

The city finally decided to send out explorers to find out what had changed in 200 years. The PCs were attacked by wild animals, as the countryside had devolved into chaos in the last 600 years. No standing armies to patrol, etc.

At first, they ended up just exploring, meeting city states and villages, learning what was going on. One of the first major combats was when they came across a hobgoblin village, LN. The hobgoblins were constantly being attacked by blink dogs. Said blink dogs had been hunted for so long by different races, they'd stopped even trying to talk or communicate with anyone else, they just moved into an area, and attacked every sentient in the area until they were all gone, or until the blink dogs got ran off. So the PCs were actually helping hobgoblins fight a pack of blink dogs in their first major fight. The blink dogs killed about 10 hobgoblins, and severely fubar'd 2 of the PCs, but they drove them off. They made friends with the hobgoblin city, and eventually set up trade with them and their city.

In this sort of game, items don't come from killing things, it comes from rewards from the PCs sponsors for jobs well done. It can be both easier and more difficult, of course, to run such a game.


Spes Magna Mark wrote:
One must remember that Pathfinder is the kind of game where you're expected (indeed, all but required!) to play racist, hypocritical mass murderers and grave robbers.

Some in my gaming group call this kind of game "Hobos with knives".

Basically you break into "people's" homes, kill them, and take their stuff.

*Edit: I see that Kamelguru and the people in my gaming group have similar thought patterns.

Scarab Sages

I was recently re-reading the old B2 Module "The Keep on the Borderlands" and I think a certain amount of the "kill the bad guys and take their stuff" can be traced back to certain conventions in that book and others of the period. The "Caves of Chaos" dungeon is basically set up like an "evil neighborhood" filled with competing tribes of Orcs, Kobolds, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, etc. The thing is that each Lair, in addition to having a number of seasoned warriors and boss monsters, is also home to a large number of non-combatant females and young - sometimes they outnumber the demi-human fighters. The end result being that, if the module was run as written, after you dispatched the tribe's warriors you would then step into the next room and be surrounded by wailing widows and orphans. EVIL widows and orphans. (supposedly)

The Demi-humans had treasure which was supposedly amassed from raiding (although its never specified who was robbed) and there's an evil temple in the area, but in hindsight it still seems weird to me.


Wolfsnap wrote:

I was recently re-reading the old B2 Module "The Keep on the Borderlands" and I think a certain amount of the "kill the bad guys and take their stuff" can be traced back to certain conventions in that book and others of the period. The "Caves of Chaos" dungeon is basically set up like an "evil neighborhood" filled with competing tribes of Orcs, Kobolds, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, etc. The thing is that each Lair, in addition to having a number of seasoned warriors and boss monsters, is also home to a large number of non-combatant females and young - sometimes they outnumber the demi-human fighters. The end result being that, if the module was run as written, after you dispatched the tribe's warriors you would then step into the next room and be surrounded by wailing widows and orphans. EVIL widows and orphans. (supposedly)

The Demi-humans had treasure which was supposedly amassed from raiding (although its never specified who was robbed) and there's an evil temple in the area, but in hindsight it still seems weird to me.

Today's liberal mentality cant accept it, but back then, the common mindset was "nits make lice", meaning you kill the young before they can grow up to be a problem. Which stemmed from the idea that alignment was static for monsters; an orc was CE from birth to death, and only magic could change that, it was a genetic thing.

Which made killing a terrible evil acceptable.

even if you remove the BS of "good" and "evil" and simply go with "us versus them", you still get looting; thats how men on the move replace the ammunition they use in combat, upgrade damaged equipment, and restock food. If you use non-intelligent monsters, the characters still loot the corpse for food at least, and maybe for leather and other usable items to replace consumed items. Its how humanity has worked since time began.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Wolfsnap wrote:

I was recently re-reading the old B2 Module "The Keep on the Borderlands" and I think a certain amount of the "kill the bad guys and take their stuff" can be traced back to certain conventions in that book and others of the period. The "Caves of Chaos" dungeon is basically set up like an "evil neighborhood" filled with competing tribes of Orcs, Kobolds, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, etc. The thing is that each Lair, in addition to having a number of seasoned warriors and boss monsters, is also home to a large number of non-combatant females and young - sometimes they outnumber the demi-human fighters. The end result being that, if the module was run as written, after you dispatched the tribe's warriors you would then step into the next room and be surrounded by wailing widows and orphans. EVIL widows and orphans. (supposedly)

The Demi-humans had treasure which was supposedly amassed from raiding (although its never specified who was robbed) and there's an evil temple in the area, but in hindsight it still seems weird to me.

Call me moral relativist blah blah :), but now as I recall "Keep on the Borderlands" there does seem to be something awfully well... awful about what the "heroes" do there: go into the tribes' homes on no pretense but to get their treasure. Kill their men (hell, how about holding some of the women and children hostage!) and take their loot.

Now, this all depends on how we define our fantasy worlds. If the players and GM already predefine humanoids to have no redeeming characteristics, just embodiments or emanations of EEvill, then sure there is no moral quandary there. For me it's just not my cup of tea - I'd like to have my humanoid tribes "earn" their baadness, if you will.

Strangely enough, it's when we add more "ecology" to the world that the problems come up for me. If we're simply talking about encountering a lair in which everyone attacks you on sight, I don't "feel" there to be any issue. But if it's a lair that has civilian quarters, a kitchen, a children's playroom, etc., well that tends to make me pause. :p


It's a game. Worrying about whether it's morally "right" to loot the corpses of goblins, kobods, orcs, vampires, zombies, etc. is just political correctness run amok.

In my games I've always more or less played and GMed things as reasonable as possible. If a party of orcs raids a village and the PC party tracks down and kills the orcs, it is expected that they will do their best to return the recently looted goods to the townspeople. If they just keep it themselves, that is not "good" behavior.

If they raid a goblin lair and find a bunch of loot, they are expected to do a reasonable effort to try to determine the owner of items. I generally will have some expensive jewelry or heirloom weapons which are engraved with information that will allow them to return the items. The loot that is unreturnable is treated like salvage in the real world. There are sometimes taxes placed on it and they are expected to report it to the local authorities.

A dragon horde is almost always filled with stuff that has a home the party should make an effort to return to the rightful owners.

This isn't hard, you just need to apply a little common sense. The real world salvage laws are a good place to start if you want to try to manage the ethical and moral conundrums involved.


If you look back over the history of human conflict. It generally boils down to: "they have [stuff], we want [stuff], they want our [stuff]."

You can try various poltical machinactions to get [stuff], but if they realize you are trying to get their [stuff] they might resort to violence to stop you. It might be easier to just take to their [stuff]. Dead people don't own [stuff] and can't take your [stuff].

However, people generally aren't willing to die for [stuff]. It's just [stuff] after all. Unless the [stuff] is food and you are starving. Then you fight for basic survival.

So, generally, tribes, governments, nations try to convince those fighting that they are fighting for some noble cause, greater than the individual; good vs. evil if you will. But in the end it comes down to "Kill them and take their [stuff]." It's really the root of conflict.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I remember Keep on the Borderlands as well. An act of Genocide struck me as... not heroic. I didn't really care for that module at all.


Just a quick comment on this whole line of discussion. If you are interested in exploring this concept deeply, I highly recommend that you read the book "Ender's Game." It's probably the best book examining this issue that I've ever read.


brassbaboon and Wolfsnap have the right idea, IMO, even if that opinion is only from people's language attempting to persuade people that adventurers are L/N/CE by nature.

I'd go so far as to say "if your players are spending all their time calculating the gp from the shoddy falchions and scimitars the orcs were wielding and their ill-kept, smelly armor, there's something wrong with either the players or the GM, because that's not 'fun' to me - that's just bookkeeping." I would rather get to the point of roleplaying or rollplaying. And yes, that's supposed to be part joke.

I've had this problem with one player. For anyone with experience with this, I'd like advice on how to take care of it. Probably applying encumbrance rules would help.

Some call me Tim wrote:

If you look back over the history of human conflict, it generally boils down to: "they have [stuff], we want [stuff], they want our [stuff]."

You can try various political machinations to get [stuff], but if they realize you are trying to get their [stuff] they might resort to violence to stop you. It might be easier to just take to their [stuff]. Dead people don't own [stuff] and can't take your [stuff].

However, people generally aren't willing to die for [stuff]. It's just [stuff] after all. Unless the [stuff] is food and you are starving. Then you fight for basic survival.

So, generally, tribes, governments, nations try to convince those fighting that they are fighting for some noble cause, greater than the individual; good vs. evil if you will. But in the end it comes down to "Kill them and take their [stuff]." It's really the root of conflict.

What history book do you read, the one penned by neanderthals? I'd say maybe in many instances, about half. (This is an uneducated opinion; I may be wrong. But you're going to have to cite sources to prove that.) However, how many Revolutionary Wars have there been where one side wants to advocate a better government (not counting the ones that ended up being worse in less than a year)? How many times have there been peaceful resolutions to problems? (On the country scale, very few, admittedly.)

And I dare mention the Crusades: they wanted land, yes, but not because it was convenient or useful or even fertile, but because it was holy. This could be seen as "stuff", I suppose, but it's no different than in Old WoD, where werewolves and mages fought over who gets to access the places where spiritual/magical energy coalesces. For mages, it was the "stuff", for werewolves it was the principle of the matter.

I've had conflicts that were less than needing to kill people, and over things that weren't "taking their stuff". Playground kids do the same thing all the time. Are you saying they don't count as conflicts? Some people are just mean, and some people get picked on, and then some people finally decide (with any luck) to ban together and show the bastard that just because his stick is big doesn't mean he has the balls to go with it.

Let's think about Al Quaeda and Westboro Baptists. Do they want our stuff? No. They want us to use THEIR stuff, or die - preferably die. Especially the former.

Finally, if you want to ignore all of the above, ask yourself this:

Where is there room for moral objectiveness in a game with an [EVIL] SUBTYPE OF CREATURE?

I don't understand why everyone wants their adventurers to be jerks. I don't understand why everyone thinks that politically correctness ("doubleplusgood! :D") is a god that must be worshiped with your tongue in its a**. And I REALLY don't understand the need to drag that sort of crap into a GAME. Let's look at Castlevania. We never see Dracula do anything evil, except make zombies and skeletons and summon demons. Yet, does anyone deny he's evil? (Blithering yaoi fangirls aside, of course.) Seek and ye shall find; this goes for conflicts, errors, problems, etc. Everyone here is LOOKING for conflict. Isn't that what the orcs do, in the D&D/Pathfinder canon flavor?

Bestiary, pg 222 wrote:
...As a culture, orcs are violent and aggressive, with the strongest ruling the rest through fear and brutality. They take what they want by force, and think nothing of slaughtering or enslaving entire villages when they can get away with it....

Yeah, so adventurers = orcs? Nuh-uh. Not by definition anyways.

Wolfsnap and ronaldsf wrote:
stuff about Keep on the Borderlands

*Wikipedia time*

Great. Fantastic. This explains a lot.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have no idea if the last post was for or against the indescriminate killing of Orcs. I can say that ideology is what rulers use to justify conflicts that are largely motivated by more pragmatic concerns.


I think the whole take on killing stuff is properly dealt with in the JourneyQuest series.

For those that do not wish to watch the series:
An excerpt of a conversation between the fighter (Glorion) and the priest (Carrow)

Glorion : Blast! I did not come hundreds of miles and slay thousands of orcs, simply to be thwarted here!

Carrow: Yessss. About that. I'mmm not quite sure you had to kill all those orcs.

Glorion: I.... I... don't follow.

Carrow: Uh... uh... um, you killed every single orc to cross our path, and ... and ...some that were nowhere near our path.

Glorion: ~smiling in remembrance, quietly says~ Yes. yes.

Carrow: ~continues~ I'm not entirely positive that was necessary.

Glorion :~confused~ You've lost me.

Carrow: You killed every last orc in that village.

Perf: ~interjecting~ ..and that retirement village.

Glorion : Well, I was too brave to spare the elderly.

Carrow: The women ..... the children...

Glorion: Killing equals honor.

Cleric : ooooookay.

Greg

The Exchange

Personally, I like grey areas. I need to do a better job of working those in when I DM.


Post like this make me think

Most people are True Neutral
When ask, what kind of person you are = Most people say Good.

......

No were does it say that taking people property is evil in the Alignment system, page 166 PF phb.

How you take there property, on the other hand, and they effect of taking there property has on the victim's lives. Well that does effect your alignment.

Dark Archive

Wolfsnap wrote:
Also - I try to arrange things so that looting intelligent creatures is not overly profitable. Most of the big rewards come from quest completion.

One option is to play around with the concepts of ownership and provenance and local laws.

If a group of orcs, bandits, whatever have a stash of coin and goods back at their lair, it's almost guaranteed to belong to someone else, and to be stolen goods.

Whatever local authority wants the bandits, orcs, etc. stopped / brought to justice / killed and eaten is not at required to say to the dirty hobo mercenaries they just hired, 'And you can keep all the stuff they stole from us if you kill them.'

If a certain percentage of the spoils is spoken for by the previous owners, or the local lordship, and the bounty is only on bandits brought in or orcs eliminated or whatever, the party that attempts to squirrel away some of the 'loot' may find themselves labeled bandits.

Perhaps being found in possession of stolen coin (trade goods, artwork, whatever) bearing the local lord's mark is a crime, even if you say, 'I got it off an orc!'

It's certainly not uncommon in the real world for someone to get in trouble for receiving stolen merchandise, even if they claim to be unaware of it's level of 'hotness.' (And, really, if you defense is 'I killed some bandits and found all this money,' where did you think they got it, from their own private gold mine and coin press?) Having the re-appropriated loot seized by the authorities is a completely reasonable reaction, and it's quite possible that any attempt to resist such recovery efforts could lead to being the targets of the *next* band of dirty mercenary hobos the local authorities hire...

Scarab Sages

The last time my PCs took out a band of bandits, they didn't just have loot but also captives as well - who then laid claim to part of the treasure which had been stolen from them in the first place when they were taken prisoner.


NPC: "Hey, that longbow looks just like the one they took from me"
PC: yeah, sure it does. Shut up and go back to town like a good little thief.

vs

NPC: Have you all seen a longbow, inscribed with the initials JBS on it? These orcs took it from me before throwing me into that cage"
PC's: Here, this sounds like the one.

I do not know if its "metagamey" of me to seriously disbelieve the first conversation but I liken it to real life. If you walk into a room and ask who lost a $20 bill then suddenly half (if not all) the room is claiming it. However, someone coming up and saying they lost a $20 wrapped in a blue twist tie is far more believeable.

The law telling you when you are hired that the loot you find isn't yours, is fine. Them telling you after you come back, is "fightin' words"

"What do you mean you are confiscating it? We risked our lives for that stuff! Get your greasy mitts off!"

There is "kill the orcs" and there is "kill the orcs and bring out the stuff". They'd best be specific when they are doing the hiring, else whoever does the killin keeps the spoils :)

-S

Dark Archive

Selgard wrote:
The law telling you when you are hired that the loot you find isn't yours, is fine. Them telling you after you come back, is "fightin' words"

Oh yeah, I wouldn't spring something like this on my group.

But this sort of 'let's fight over who'se loot this is' has been around for quite some time.

I vaguely remember a dozen dwarves, a hobbit and the residents of Lake Town getting pretty close to going all Reservoir Dogs on each other...


Wolfsnap wrote:
The last time my PCs took out a band of bandits, they didn't just have loot but also captives as well - who then laid claim to part of the treasure which had been stolen from them in the first place when they were taken prisoner.

The way i would look at that is

........

Good Person = The NPC have claim, they get there stuff back.

Neutral Person = The PC have claim, the NPC get there stuff back only if they can prove it ( Ok the robe has your name written in it, you get this back), etc

Evil Person = The stuff is mine, unless you can show me some benefit into giving it back to you. (What do i get out of it, gold, favors, your good will / Fraction Adjustment).


Wolfsnap wrote:

I know that this is an archetypal activity in Fantasy RPGs, but the recent thread about what makes assassins evil has me revisiting my general unease with the idea that this is the basic premise of what adventurers do.

It isn't the basic premise of what adventurers do. It is the basic exaggerated premise of what adventurers do. In the thread you mention, it was mostly used to counter arguments like "all assassins murder people for money and don't care who they kill as long as they get paid." Neither of those are true in all (or even most) instances.

"But killing a guy who wasn't ready is eeeevil" is countered with "but killing that nice gorgon who was taking an afternoon nap in its lair was somehow justified?"

In the end, adventurers end up killing stuff. Be it the guards of the evil overlord, or 'bestial monsters' in a dungeon somewhere. But I don't think anyone was suggesting that the typical heroic campaign involves killing sprees throughout the world.


Most of the games I've GM'ed have been a method of escape from moral/ethical relativism (I've only seriously GM'ed since joining the US Navy). It's common procedure for me and my players to be unsure of who is giving us orders, or to severely dislike some of the people in charge but still be required to follow their direction, even to our own deaths. Combine that with the general infatuation modern American culture seems to have for cheering for the villains, and it's nice to have a setting where you're not always required to stop and ask the question 'is it OK to kill the monster?'

When I want that question in my games, I use non-monstrous races. Realistically, gnomes and to some extent elves are the most alien of the races present in Golarion, but they are generally given the benefit of the doubt, while orcs and goblins - who are identifiably native - are unquestionably shunned. Most 'monstrous' races qualify as 'monstrous' because of the way they reliably and predictably act; you just can't get along with orcs or goblins, even if you are an orc or a goblin.

I'm not trying to invalidate moral relativism as a playstyle at all - just to explain how it fits into our games.

Dark Archive

QuixoticDan wrote:
I'm not trying to invalidate moral relativism as a playstyle at all - just to explain how it fits into our games.

'Moral relativism' is an odd expression here. In the current debate, it seems to be 'moral relativism' to say 'killing is always bad' and *not* moral relativism to say that 'killing is okay, sometimes.'

Isn't that exactly backwards?

Isn't trying to something justify something generally considered wrong as being 'excusable, under certain conditions' the exact reason why moral relativism is frowned upon, because it muddies otherwise crystal clear waters, where black is always black and white is always white?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I don't know if this has been posted here or in the other thread, but here's a lighthearted take on the subject :)

http://www.goblindefensefund.org/main.html

Liberty's Edge

Looting humanoids is limited by the carrying capacity of your party. Limiting spells like Ant Haul, items like handy haversacks are your easiest way to limit GP gain from looting fallen enemies. Even if the party slays a billion orcs with +1 muskets their total haul isn't likely to be a whole lot if they're limited to what they can actually carry (not much if you're looking at the archetypical wiz/clc/rog/fgt party).

Yes, low loot monsters are a way to game the party's economy, but the most interesting enemies are those you can figure out, and/or communicate with.

I use the pathfinder society as a way to provide benefits without having to resort to looting everything on two feet, and factions add a bit more intrigue as the other party members have no idea what their allies' actions may mean for them later.


dave.gillam wrote:
Wolfsnap wrote:

I was recently re-reading the old B2 Module "The Keep on the Borderlands" and I think a certain amount of the "kill the bad guys and take their stuff" can be traced back to certain conventions in that book and others of the period. The "Caves of Chaos" dungeon is basically set up like an "evil neighborhood" filled with competing tribes of Orcs, Kobolds, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, etc. The thing is that each Lair, in addition to having a number of seasoned warriors and boss monsters, is also home to a large number of non-combatant females and young - sometimes they outnumber the demi-human fighters. The end result being that, if the module was run as written, after you dispatched the tribe's warriors you would then step into the next room and be surrounded by wailing widows and orphans. EVIL widows and orphans. (supposedly)

The Demi-humans had treasure which was supposedly amassed from raiding (although its never specified who was robbed) and there's an evil temple in the area, but in hindsight it still seems weird to me.

Today's liberal mentality cant accept it, but back then, the common mindset was "nits make lice", meaning you kill the young before they can grow up to be a problem. Which stemmed from the idea that alignment was static for monsters; an orc was CE from birth to death, and only magic could change that, it was a genetic thing.

Which made killing a terrible evil acceptable.

even if you remove the BS of "good" and "evil" and simply go with "us versus them", you still get looting; thats how men on the move replace the ammunition they use in combat, upgrade damaged equipment, and restock food. If you use non-intelligent monsters, the characters still loot the corpse for food at least, and maybe for leather and other usable items to replace consumed items. Its how humanity has worked since time began.

+1

Hole in one my friend.


Machaeus wrote:
I don't understand why everyone thinks that politically correctness ("doubleplusgood! :D") is a god that must be worshiped with your tongue in its a**.

Nothing like a well reasoned argument to prove a subtle point. Way to stay classy, man.

Scarab Sages

Set wrote:

'Moral relativism' is an odd expression here. In the current debate, it seems to be 'moral relativism' to say 'killing is always bad' and *not* moral relativism to say that 'killing is okay, sometimes.'

Isn't that exactly backwards?

Isn't trying to something justify something generally considered wrong as being 'excusable, under certain conditions' the exact reason why moral relativism is frowned upon, because it muddies otherwise crystal clear waters, where black is always black and white is always white?

It depends on whether the speaker is referring to the actions of PCs or their opponents.

It used to be that 'orcs are always bad, kill them on sight'
Later it became 'you can't label orcs as bad; they may kill, maim, steal, kidnap, torture and whatever else, but I'm sure they have a perfectly good reason'.

When applied to PCs, it used to be 'these are heroes, because they killed the evil orc warriors, women and children'.
Later it became 'These are murderers, who break into the homes of innocent, peace-loving orcs, and kill them without attempting to understand their ways'.

I.E. some people have gone to defending the orcs for their awful behaviour, while simultaneously ceasing to defend PC-types for their far less bloodthirsty behaviour, even to the extent of 'PCs are always evil' being the default.

For those people who prefer moral relativism, orcs are innocent until proven guilty, while PCs are guilty till proven innocent.


The way I handle it is that HP doesn't represent how many times your character can take getting stabbed in the chest or having an ax embedded in your head, it represents the energy the character has to use to actively prevent the blow that would have killed him to land.

So against Low lv pee-ons as the heroes land that killing blow they smash through the enemies weapon/shield/armor (equal chance d3), making it useless.

But that is me so feel free to light the fires of the flames.


I moved away from 'invade monsters and loot their stuff' ages ago.

It's fun on a basic level, but hard to turn that sort of play into a multi-level campaign of intrigue.

Sometimes the party might need to work WITH the monsters :p


An evil assassin kills someone because they want their stuff. They have no problems doing so.

A good person kills somoene because they needed to die, and then the state ends up with that persons stuff.

A good adventurer kills someone because they need to die, and that's a shame but there's no point in wasting their stuff. *grab*

While functionally, as a game, its the same thing the "real" consequences and implications are far different. Anyone is at risk from an assassin, only bad guys need to fear good adventurers. A good adventurer is doing the right thing, and just happens to be rewarded by the gods of the treasure table, they aren't doing it JUST for the reward.

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