Is cannibalism evil?


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The Exchange

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I've had a player sit down and say he was raised among orcs, who ate the flesh of their slain enemies to honor their strength in battle and gain their power. He's a barbarian alchemist. I view this as acceptable in an orcs CE society, but not elsewhere in golarion, like after a battle with cuthroats in an alley in Absalom, and warned him that its an evil act and he could lose his character if he keeps it up.

What should I do? He insists on saying he eats his enemies at each table he sits down at.

Paizo Employee 5/5

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(OOC: Memory of Dreams is not the character mentioned in the OP and has never eaten anyone so far due to fellow PCs so far backing up his peaceful ways--here's his view)

The orcs have their ways, and their ways are often brutal and cruel. I cannot speak to this man you mentioned, but my people are neither. In my tribe, we follow the traditions of the sun and moon spirits. They have taught us that taking the life of another living being (undead are certainly not living, and as to that status for outsiders, I will ask the nearest shaman to weigh in, as I am not well-informed on the matter) is a weighty and momentous decision. It should be undertaken only in the most extreme circumstances, when no other options are available.

In your story, the man you slay may just be one of ten faceless minions, but to that man, it is the final end of his story, his hopes, and his dreams. He was a son, and perhaps a brother, a husband, or a father. When you end another being, it is your duty to use every part and let nothing go to waste. It is your duty to take their hopes and dreams within you, through ritual consumption--if all of these dreams are evil, you need not pursue them, but try to find something in their story that you can continue, even if it is merely to locate their loved ones and inform them of their death. You must learn and remember their names, and respect that for your story to continue, theirs had to end.

In my adventures with the Pathfinder Society, thus far despite the extreme violence required, far more than suits my taste, I have managed to work with my comrades to prevent any fatalities on either side, but some day, I may not be so fortunate.

Your people call me a barbarian, a primitive, and with all the strange things you have in your civilization, I guess it must be so. But now you call me evil? I hold each life sacred and remember their loss. How many lives have you taken on an adventure and soon forgotten? In my tribe, this would be a great sin, but I do not judge you for it.

Sczarni 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Pullman aka Coraith

Cannibalism in and of itself is not an evil act. Most often its considered ritualistic by those people doing it, and repugnant by those viewing it.

My suggestion is to have NPCs start reacting negatively to it... if he is eating the remains of people all the time he is going to be seen.

Also, eating people has some side effects like being exposed to diseases in that persons body or substances they may have been imbibing. If he eats a bit of one person who is infected with Filth Fever have him make some saves with a modifier to the DC considering he just put a chunk of the disease into his gullet.

If you feel it is slowing down progression in a game too much, pull him aside and tell him that you don't need to be aware every time he makes a meal out of an enemy, because its distracting to the table and slowing down the game. If he wants to imagine he does it fine, but don't disrupt the table with it. If he keeps at it refuse to sit his character, after all the game is supposed to be fun for everyone involved, and that includes the GM.

Lastly, Pathfinder Society has a reputation to uphold. Just because something isn't an evil act, doesn't mean that the society will approve. If you really don't like that he is doing it talk to your Venture Lieutenant or Captain and ask for options from them.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Disease wise, 150gp for a remove disease is cheaper the higher level they get. So real world problems with cannibalism vanish.

Presumably it's more than unsightly to sit in an alley and eat a humans heart out of his chest. But there's no recourse for arresting and detaining the character for something illegal.

I'll bring it up with the VL if the player keeps it up.

The Exchange

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It's likely an illegal act, I don't think that it's an evil act. However, murdering cut-throats in an alley could be. Once they are down, there's no good reason not to bind their hands and feet, stabilise them, and call the authorities.


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I would add that outside the game, if other players are the table take issue with this player and are not having fun due to this player describing in detail what his character is doing to a body, I think you are well within your rights as a GM to set this player aside and have "the talk".

Being disruptive at a table is never good.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Out-of-game issues are best handled by out-of-game means, and that's what this really is. Many people will find descriptions of cannibalism disturbing, and that's really the issue here.

Remind him that Pathfinder Society is open to players of all ages, and that one of the main points to Society play is to bring new players into the game. His character concept, while perfectly fine for a home game with friends who don't object, is not appropriate for an organized play environment with a broad cross-section of the population. Many players will find the actions he's describing morally objectionable and may be turned off of Pathfinder Society (and possibly Pathfinder in general) as a result.

Ask him to re-work his character to something a little less offensive to the general populace and save the ritualistic cannibal for a home game.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

I wouldn't call it an evil act in and of itself. That sort of "socially unacceptable" behavior could get an otherwise-decent barbarian killed if he indulges it while in most settled areas, so he'd be wise to avoid PDCs (Public Displays of Cannibalism). He should be reminded not to make it a problem: Not everyone would want to adventure with a "savage Orcish cannibal".

The Exchange 5/5

in 1st edition (yeah, showing my age) eating the flesh of your own species often resulted in a transformation into a Ghoul. Clearly that is not the case in PFS... but some people might believe it is.

2/5

I don't think it's evil, especially if the enemy is dead already. Eating an enemy while he's living and watching is evil.

My fighter does similar things (although Krunch isn't a cannibal), such as eat the raw liver of hunted animals and decapitating the heads of powerful humanoid enemies (to make shrunken heads). No one has been terribly disturbed so far.

In one scenario, one GM didn't like my idea that several dead giant beetles would provide enough food to feed starving citizens (insects are a good source of protein!), especially if we made "mystery meat". But that's it.

Btw, how the hell can he eat so many opponents? I assume he means just an eyeball or something? That crap takes time, maybe the rest of the party should just leave him there while he eats for 60 minutes. We did that with this guy who wanted to dance naked through the flowers in one scenario, which ended that nonsense quickly.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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You guys are harsh on the roleplayers! Let them eat their victims or dance naked through the flowers, both are likely illegal in some places and acceptable in others. It sounds like people are having fun so just roll with it.

Dark Archive

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Half-orcs get bite attacks through feats and traits(Razortusk/Tusked). I also think there is an alternate racial trait called toothy too. If he is willing to bite you, he is probably willing to eat you. Well, that's my opinion anyway. As for it being evil or not, it really depends whose eyes you are looking through. I wouldn't consider it lawful or good, so he couldn't be a paladin.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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There are many civilizations from our real world’s past, where ritualistic cannibalism was part of life. Although is it really cannibalism if you honor a formidable fallen foe by subsuming his power by eating one of his organs (a heart or liver)? Cannibalism is actually the eating of another of your species (in some fantasy world cases it might mean eating another sentient species, or humanoid species).

interestingly enough from Wikipedia wrote:
Historically, allegations of cannibalism were used by the colonial powers to justify the enslavement of what were seen as primitive peoples; cannibalism has been said to test the bounds of cultural relativism as it challenges anthropologists "to define what is or is not beyond the pale of acceptable human behavior".[14] Cannibalism is rare and is not illegal in most countries.[15] People who eat human flesh are usually charged with crimes not relating to cannibalism, such as murder or desecration of a body

We often view cannibalism as evil, because we find it abhorrent. But not all abhorrent acts are evil in nature. Some folks find war abhorrent. But war is not necessarily evil.

But I do agree, that if he’s slowing down game play, and he’s doing it just to be “morbidly cool” or to purposefully “gross others out” then he’s not treating the ritualistic part of the act with respect. Its ok to have weird niche personalities and quirks for your character. Just show those personalities and quirks respect by not treating them as a gauche exercise in freakishness.

The Exchange

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Seraphimpunk wrote:

I've had a player sit down and say he was raised among orcs, who ate the flesh of their slain enemies to honor their strength in battle and gain their power. He's a barbarian alchemist. I view this as acceptable in an orcs CE society, but not elsewhere in golarion, like after a battle with cuthroats in an alley in Absalom, and warned him that its an evil act and he could lose his character if he keeps it up.

What should I do? He insists on saying he eats his enemies at each table he sits down at.

This player is looking for attention, plain and simple. His in-game behavior is an attempt to keep himself in the spotlight at the table. Don't give him what he wants, and he'll either start conforming or go screw with someone else's campaign. So my recommendation is when he says "I'm eating their corpses", reply "Alright, you ate their corpses. Moving on. Your search of the bodies nets you the following gear...". Spend your time role-playing with other people at the table. As long as the player is behaving the way you describe, keep your interaction with him short. Have NPCs ignore him, or just be far more interested in the other characters. I know you're already an excellent GM, but really crank up the animation when you're talking to the other players, and curtail it when your problem child wants in. The player is either going to get the message or get bored and play with his smart phone. If he gets the message, bring him back into the role-play fold. But as long as you or the other players react to his behavior in the way that you have, he's going to keep on doing what he can to push your buttons. It's not about evil acts, it's about a need for attention. Feed the animal and it will only keep coming back to the trough. I hope that this is helpful for you.

5/5

The other question is what defines a cannibal in a fantasy world. Several of my characters believe that eating any sentient creature amounts to cannibalism, but Immortal Conundrum has a good-aligned NPC serve dishes at the feast that if you pay attention included meat of sentient creatures (my Cheliax Zen Archer refused to eat these). I bet 95% of PCs who have played through the scenario have eaten those dishes.

The other possible definition is that cannibalism is only eating members of your own race, in which case an orc would only be a cannibal if he ate another orc. I mean, a red dragon isn't a cannibal for eating human maidens after all, and I can't tell you how many times I've seen a bloodthirsty pet class have their animal companion / eidolon / summoned creatures finish off fallen foes and eat at least part of them, usually while whichever character I'm playing is trying to save them (even the most morally suspect of my PFS characters believe in having someone to question for later, rather than killing out of hand).

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Doug Miles wrote:
If he gets the message, bring him back into the role-play fold.

What role-play fold is that then? You've just told him to stop role-playing. The only message he'll get is that he's not wanted.

5/5

Stormfriend wrote:
Doug Miles wrote:
If he gets the message, bring him back into the role-play fold.
What role-play fold is that then? You've just told him to stop role-playing. The only message he'll get is that he's not wanted.

It sounds like a few of the posters here know the OP and the player in question, as there has been a discussion of the player's "graphic descriptions" which were not ever mentioned in the OP and Doug mentioned that he knows the OP is a great GM. So maybe they know other details that indicate that the player is not roleplaying much beyond the shock value of the graphic descriptions. I could be wrong about that though, and maybe replies are just reading into the graphic descriptions. This kind of culture can be displayed without graphic or horrifying descriptions. Memory of Dreams, for instance, if he ever does wind up needing to eat a part of someone, will never do so with a graphic description. It will be all about expressing his sorrow over their death and his forthright honesty about trying to let their dreams live on

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Southwest

Doug Miles wrote:
This player is looking for attention, plain and simple. His in-game behavior is an attempt to keep himself in the spotlight at the table. Don't give him what he wants, and he'll either start conforming or go screw with someone else's campaign. So my recommendation is when he says "I'm eating their corpses", reply "Alright, you ate their corpses. Moving on. Your search of the bodies nets you the following gear...". Spend your time role-playing with other people at the table. As long as the player is behaving the way you describe, keep your interaction with him short. Have NPCs ignore him, or just be far more interested in the other characters. I know you're already an excellent GM, but really crank up the animation when you're talking to the other players, and curtail it when your problem child wants in. The player is either going to get the message or get bored and play with his smart phone. If he gets the message, bring him back into the role-play fold. But as long as you or the other players react to his behavior in the way that you have, he's going to keep on doing what he can to push your buttons. It's not about evil acts, it's about a need for attention. Feed the animal and it will only keep coming back to the trough. I hope that this is helpful for you.

Excellent advice! This is a great way to socialize 'problem children'.


Andrew Christian wrote:

There are many civilizations from our real world’s past, where ritualistic cannibalism was part of life. Although is it really cannibalism if you honor a formidable fallen foe by subsuming his power by eating one of his organs (a heart or liver)? Cannibalism is actually the eating of another of your species (in some fantasy world cases it might mean eating another sentient species, or humanoid species).

It also was used in some tribes as part of funeral rites. Dead foes didn't get funerals, so they weren't eaten. However, you always want a piece of grandma with you....

2/5

Stormfriend wrote:
You guys are harsh on the roleplayers! Let them eat their victims or dance naked through the flowers, both are likely illegal in some places and acceptable in others. It sounds like people are having fun so just roll with it.

Is having a (lawful good :) ) cavalier dancing naked through flowers really roleplaying? Maybe, but the player was just a (rude) attention whore in general, that one action was just a single manifestation of him being an idiot. I wouldn't say his roleplaying was "wrong", it's just in a style that I don't enjoy. The player was rude / annoying / spotlight hog enough that I wouldn't sit at a table with that player again.

If I was GMing, I would have said something and gotten the game back in control, but being at a home game with 5 other regulars + GM that looked like they were having a good time, I have to assume that I'm the odd guy out, which gives me no right to say anything. It's their home game. /shrug. Who am I to say they're playing wrong?

Doug Miles wrote:
This player is looking for attention, plain and simple.

I don't necessarily feel the player is 'seeking attention' (or hogging the spotlight), anymore than anyone roleplaying is 'seeking attention' in general. It could just be a PC concept that he likes. Everyone has their own idea of what is fun, just because it's not yours doesn't necessarily make it wrong.

There are lots of PC concepts (and roleplaying) that are "shocking" (and are often the most hilarious), this just happens to be one that the GM doesn't like. Shocking PC concepts (and players) that are liked are often allowed to hog the spotlight and dominate the scenario (and yet are not called out for 'seeking attention').

So let's call it what it is, you don't like the roleplaying concept.

Doug Miles wrote:
The player is either going to get the message or get bored and play with his smart phone.

"Roleplay my way or else."

As GM, it's your prerogative to take control of the table any way you like. My preference is to use a more direct approach (while still being respectful / kind) as the first response. I just find it's more respectful to the player, and there are no misunderstandings.

For example, telling him to "tone it down" or "we don't want all the details" if it's too descriptive. I'm assuming he's an adult and will understand. If you give respect, you're often given respect back in return. The rest of the table will appreciate it as well.

This is especially important if you're gaming with the player's week after week, because they'll know what you like and what you don't like, and they'll be no lack of communication or "hidden" dynamics.

I would ignore the player as a last alternative the player doesn't respond to a more direct approach. If the direct approach doesn't work, the player just isn't mature enough to understand (or doesn't care). If you ignore a player as your first response, it's disrespectful and can lead to a weird (and unfun) dynamic at your table. People don't want hidden expectations, they want communication. When GMs start acting weird (when something affects them and they don't verbalize), the players get that vibe and it affects the session.

Anyway, that's my perspective on the issue. Good luck and happy gaming.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

The underlying issue for me is that we are all Pathfinders and while that doesn't mean you must be lawful stupid or anything, it does carry some level of social acceptability. I just find it hard to believe that the Pathfinder Society would embrace a cannibal as a member. Whether or not you think it is an evil act (I happen to btw), doesn't take away from "civilized" society looking at it as such. I think this is just another character that pushes the limits of the organized play campaign a bit farther than it is intended to go. If you want to say things like "technically, cannibalism is okay because, blah blah blah" you can use some of the same reasoning to legitimize a lot of what most players would consider risque activities. Hell, you could rationalize murder given some time and the right conditions. We have necromancer-ish builds claiming that they should be able to function as anyone else despite that skeleton or zombie following them around town and get upset when there are serious social ramifications in-game. Sometimes, I just don't understand certain players.

As always, extreme character builds will provoke extreme responses from both players and GM's. I hope, at least, the player is prepared for GM's who will rule it is an evil act to perform said actions and disallow it at their table. If so, great, no harm no foul. If not, and the player makes a scene, well then I think Doug hit the proverbial nail.


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I'd say that killing an intelligent being in order to eat his or her flesh is evil, but eating the flesh of a fallen foe who died at your hands for purposes unrelated to eating them is not necessarily evil. It's worth noting that Lizardfolk are mentioned as being cannibalistic in the Bestiary, and their alignment is given as Neutral.

5/5

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Whether or not you think it is an evil act (I happen to btw), doesn't take away from "civilized" society looking at it as such.

Bob, you definitely have ground to stand on in the source material--in contrast to the posts given here with examples otherwise, like the lizardfolk, there are definitely also a good number of cannibalism is evil examples, including in Hungry Storm

Hungry Storm:
There's a minor encounter with a group of friendly cannibals. Other than being cannibals and potentially attacking if the PCs start judging them, these cannibals are perfectly friendly and offer advice and trade, with no chance of betraying the party to eat them or anything. These guys have a listed alignment of evil, though.

If you're going with it as an evil act, I'm guessing you are considering cannibalism as consumption of one's own race, then, rather than any intelligent race? I say this because I've followed your posts and you make reasonable calls, so I'm guessing you wouldn't have a paladin fall for willingly committing an evil act by eating the food in Immortal Conundrum, for instance.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

I think it depends on how far the intelligent race is from humanoid on Darwin's chart. If what you are eating is considered a "monster" or "animal" by society, then its probably not going to raise much of a fuss. However, if someone sees you eat say an elf or a halfling or my favorite a gnome (yummm), and you'll likely have a problem. Can you eat horse? Probably, but what if the horse in question is a paladin's mount? or perhaps an animal companion. Does it matter?

Hungry Storm doesn't really apply, IMO, because it is assumed to be a home game. In that case, the players are static, the GM is static, and all can agree (or not) as to what level of evil is okay for their campaign. In the case of PFS, that decision is largely up to the campaign coordinator with a little freedom given to table GM's to adjudicate on a case-by-case. I think cannibalism lies outside the boundary for what *we* would consider acceptable behavior in the society. YMMV.

I reviewed the courses listed in Immortal Conundrum and unless I missed something, only one entree includes a creature with an INT of higher than 2 and even then I wouldn't really characterize that creature as fully sentient despite an INT of 5. I tend to think that Intelligence is not a black and white description of a creature's mental power. IMO there is a difference between an animal companion with an INT of 5 and a PC with the same. Again, YMMV. Simple answer, no, I would not have a problem with a paladin (or anyone) eating the meal in Immortal Conundrum.

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
you make reasonable calls

Thanks. I try to see both sides of an "argument" even if I only agree with one perspective. I can only control what happens at my gaming table. Game On!!!

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

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Green Left Eye wrote:
I'd say that killing an intelligent being in order to eat his or her flesh is evil, but eating the flesh of a fallen foe who died at your hands for purposes unrelated to eating them is not necessarily evil.

That can get tricky in a fantasy world. Would you call it evil to slay a dragon, even an evil one, and eat it? I would venture a guess that it would be more acceptable to eat dragonburgers than orc sausage. :-)

Dark Archive Venture-Agent, Washington—Redmond

My gut reaction was "Yes! Why is this a question when alignments HAVE to be black and white for the sake of the alignment system itself" but then I took some time to think about it and read some of the above arguments. Here is my two-cents:

I agree that the act of eating another warrior's organ is ritualistic; but consuming of the entire body is just falt-out unheard-of without their being a severe food shortage. I agree that doing the act infront of more civilized people would be viewed with disgust and i would treat it as an auto-failed Diplomacy check and lower the NPCs attitude.

I have to make the point that cannibalism is worked into several class features including Sanguine Bloodline for sorcerer and Eater of Sins for inquisitor. When my sanguine sorcerer uses his Blood is Life ability, I usually just state "I collect some blood from the foe and raise a toast over his body" and I let the GM move along to more pressing issues rather than go into the overt flavor of a class ability.

Players that want to go into detail and RP grotesque or overly sexual scenes are usually the ones craving attention and reactions from those at the table. For them, I say "sure, you eat the body while everyone else looks on in disgust... moving on!" Sometimes this will drop you out of character so that scene can fade-to-black and came back some minutes down the road, but that's a much better alternative than another person wanting to RP their flirting with the Paracountess in First Steps :-p

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Hell, you could rationalize murder given some time and the right conditions.

There's one recent mod where murdering captured enemies is the *only* viable option to succeed, or at least that was made clear by the GM (roleplaying the VC). You can't let them go (for spoiler reasons), and you can't take them with you, so killing them is the only option. If you didn't happen to kill them in combat then you need to execute them afterwards. My good aligned character had a serious problem with that but couldn't find any alternative. My 'evil' characters wouldn't have cared in the slightest.

The Society is Neutral, it doesn't want members causing problems by publicly flouting the laws of the land (which will vary according to the land you're in), but they don't seem to care otherwise as long as you get the job done.

Oh, and I find paladins to be the most extreme characters in the game. I simply cannot understand why the Society would ever allow them to join. Cannibalistic undead lords are easy to get on with by comparison, so long as they keep things low-key and unobtrusive.

5/5

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Green Left Eye wrote:
I'd say that killing an intelligent being in order to eat his or her flesh is evil, but eating the flesh of a fallen foe who died at your hands for purposes unrelated to eating them is not necessarily evil.
That can get tricky in a fantasy world. Would you call it evil to slay a dragon, even an evil one, and eat it? I would venture a guess that it would be more acceptable to eat dragonburgers than orc sausage. :-)

In my opinion, which is just one guy's opinion, the main reason we have gut reactions in this way is that we live in a real world where we are the only sentient race. In general, my characters are usually equally not okay with either dragonburgers or orc sausages (except Memory of Dreams). I'm also a vegetarian in real life, so I'm obviously atypical about these kind of distinctions overall. I've found that in general most of the players who feel that cannibalism is always evil hold the same-race (or perhaps humanoid) definition of cannibalism.

That said, my character of Memory of Dreams actually arose somewhat as a response to good-aligned PCs who kept eating sentient nonhumanoid creatures we encountered in the scenarios (this led to an "Andorans are cannibals" meme which led to my creating the character). I believe that Memory of Dreams is actually good aligned. He hasn't actually even had to eat anyone yet (it's part of an act of contrition for a life taken, and so far his fellows have never taken a life--he's specced out to do nonlethal damage in an attempt to spare all those possible). If he did engage in cannibalism, I'd be the last person to want it described graphically. Of course, he is unabashedly of the True Primitive barbarian archetype, so he and civilized society don't always see eye-to-eye.

Dark Archive 3/5

So, I'm fairly certain the character in question is someone I've played with at a table you ran the other week Seraphim (if this is in Texas ). If not, it's strikingly similar so I'll chime in either way. I have a few points to pick apart here:

1) Sitting down at a table and declaring "I eat the corpses of my enemies" did not communicate to me "I'm role-playing!". It's communicating, "I'm doing something extreme, let's see how you react."

I take this as a cue to tune out if I'm playing a PC who wouldn't care, because it's fishing for a reaction. If I'm playing one who would, I'd ask (in-character) for the PC to stop the first time it actually came up. While I don't play a Paladin if I did, this is an issue I'd put my foot down on immediately.

Had the player instead sat down, gone about business as usual, and then started chowing down after the first combat I'd be more inclined to role-play this scenario out with him.

2) At the table I was with this player, he was not role-playing anything out beyond "I begin eating the corpse". Not the heart, not the head. The corpse.

In this particular instance, I'm again disinclined to believe there is an attempt at role-playing going on vs. reaction fishing because I'm not hearing or seeing any actual culturally significant component going on until he's called on the behavior. He's not cutting out the heart, drinking the blood, or cutting off ears as trophies. He's just eating the corpse. And then, the claim is made Out-Of-Character when alignment is brought up that it is just his culture. Not via in character interaction.

Depending on the PC, if we were just talking the heart or brains or other culturally significant organ, they might even be swayed to respect said cannibal's culture. That would be an awesome discussion to role-play out in terms of culture clash; but this was not what occurred.

3) The Pathfinder Society is an organization of agents with skill sets that aid in the recovery, analysis, and preservation of ancient knowledge and artifacts.

Within reason, I expect players at my table to build PC concepts with some (however faint/improbable) means of fitting that description. Yes, they will be wild and colorful characters from all walks of life. But someone who walks down the streets of Absalom and consumes entire bodies of his foes for sustenance does not sound like an agent that the Decemiverate would tolerate or continue to clean up after with the local authorities.

This particular argument isn't "you're role-playing wrong", but instead, "you're not role-playing a character suitable for this campaign".

5/5

bdk86 wrote:

So, I'm fairly certain the character in question is someone I've played with at a table you ran the other week Seraphim (if this is in Texas ). If not, it's strikingly similar so I'll chime in either way. I have a few points to pick apart here:

...

So, with these details, it does seem like the player is just reaction fishing, especially since all the discussion seems to come from the player out of character with the other players and not from the character's own voice.

If you ever play with Memory of Dreams, he knows some people have issues with his culture, so he will explain to everyone else up front in character "If any of us takes another's life, I will be consuming a part of the fallen and attempting to continue their memory and any non-evil dreams they had. I will try to learn their name and inform their family."

Sczarni 4/5

Altho his character might be cannibal it doesn't mean he can't adapt to the society. Orc's sometimes have tendency to eat raw flesh, but not to often.

I have a character who is reincarnated ogre. Ogre's love eating meat, they don't even care if it's human or animal and so did mine char, but that doesn't mean he is completely dumb. He noticed that eating human flesh in their own society would be bad idea, so he turned to other types of it. There is plenty of meat around, not only human flesh to go for after all.

If he starts speaking how it's ritualistic or something, remind him that orc's don't eat raw meat often and they often eat hearts to sieze the strength of their enemies.

A full time orc cannibal is unusual sight.

The Exchange 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Back to the "is this an evil act?" question, my answer would be "Sorta, but not enough to change your alignment." I mean, there's a Cheliaxian trait (created specifically for PFS) that lets you drink the soul of fallen enemies (not described as such, but the name kinda gives it away). In my very first ever game of PFS, I was sitting next to this guy who gleefully described how he lapped up the delicious soul of the fallen Aspis agent.

There's a lot of confusion about an "evil act" in PFS. I've heard some GMs say that coup-de-gras was an evil act. Others that casting a spell with the [evil] descriptor was an evil act. Wait, so casting protection from good is going to make my alignment more evil? Morality is relative, especially in a fantasy world. My rule of thumb is basically "if it involves doing something to civilians, that's when you need to worry about alignment changes."

Oh, and the guy maniacally drinking a soul? Mike Brock, in one of the rare occasions he actually got to play instead of GM.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

In the majority of cases, it is left to the table GM to decide if a player's action is considered evil, and if so, what to do (if anything) about it. There are a few things that are defined as evil by the game designers, including any spell with the [evil] descriptor. Does that mean that you immediately slide to an evil alignment, no, but that doesn't mean you get a free pass just because your cleric of Rovagug who selected negative channeling and Destruction/Evil domains decided to write Chaotic Neutral on the character sheet.

The Exchange 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Bob Jonquet wrote:
In the majority of cases, it is left to the table GM to decide if a player's action is considered evil, and if so, what to do (if anything) about it. There are a few things that are defined as evil by the game designers, including any spell with the [evil] descriptor. Does that mean that you immediately slide to an evil alignment, no, but that doesn't mean you get a free pass just because your cleric of Rovagug who selected negative channeling and Destruction/Evil domains decided to write Chaotic Neutral on the character sheet.

The problem with the spell descriptor thing is that it should work both ways (but rarely does). In other words if I sit down with my lawful neutral cleric of Pharasma at your table, Bob, and cast protection from evil on all my party members (it's all I prepared in first level slots today), are you going to say that casting that many spells with the [good] descriptor has shifted me to lawful good and now I can't cast any spells since I'm more than one step away from my deity? And how about all those wands of infernal healing every arcane caster carries around?

Note - Serious question, the tone isn't intended to be confrontational.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

yeah its texas.

and technically its still cannibalism. he's playing a human character (not even a half-orc) "raised by orcs".

bdk, yeah i've run him in that table, and another one last tues night, where he continued the comments and flesh eating, going for eating the heart out of someoen's chest.

i'm hoping to avoid getting him as a player on monday night. i'd hate to be the gm to have to say " i'd rather not run a game for you, its not as much fun for me ".

Grand Lodge 5/5

Allright as someone who gleefully played a Gnoll PC in my LFR days (after being recruited by an all Gnoll AdCo :) ) there's something I have to ask. How is the cannibalism being portrayed? I ask because when I played my gnoll even though he didn't have any qualms noshing on a slain elf or two I usually portrayed it as something comical. Ya know, party looting bodies and then someone notices the gnoll munching on a foot and the party getting the "What?!" face from me. If that's what he's doing, I wouldn't be concerned.

However, from what I'm reading I take it that its not the case. I was never overly graphic with the gnoll's dining habits but from the sound of it this guy is. I'm a tolerant player and a more tolerant DM but I can fully understand why someone making a serious scene about ripping hearts out and eating them would bother you and players.

I'd recommend "The Talk" as well. Find out if it's really a roleplay flavor thing like it was with my gnoll which could be approached differently or if there's something...else going on. If it's really bothering you that much after that, I'd take it up the line to a VO.

Oh, yeah, gnoll boon please! I want to bring back Vorden sooooo bad :). BTW, gnome fingers were by far the yummiest :) .


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I'd like to point out that a Witch's Cook People Hex is inherently evil RAW.

Cook People (Su): The witch can create fabulous spells by cooking an intelligent humanoid creature in her cauldron, either alive or dead. Using this hex creates one meal or serving of food of the witch's choice, typically a delicious stew or a dough suitable for cookies, pastries, or other desserts. Cooking the victim takes 1 hour. Eating the food provides one of the following benefits for 1 hour: age resistance, bear's endurance, bull's strength, cat's grace, eagle's splendor, fox's cunning, neutralize poison (instantaneous) owl's wisdom, remove disease (instantaneous). Alternatively, the witch can shape the dough into a Small, humanlike creature, animating it as a homunculus for 1 hour. The witch must have the cauldron hex to select this hex. Using this hex or knowingly eating its food is an evil act

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Does that mean that you immediately slide to an evil alignment, no, but that doesn't mean you get a free pass just because your cleric of Rovagug who selected negative channeling and Destruction/Evil domains decided to write Chaotic Neutral on the character sheet.

PFS clerics can't take the Evil domain because they can't have an Evil alignment.

A CN cleric of Rovagug casting spells with the Evil descriptor is no more or less valid as a PFS character than a CN cleric of Cayden Cailean casting spells with the Good descriptor. Neither will change alignment from casting spells or channeling no matter how often they do it.

Dark Archive 3/5

Seraphimpunk wrote:

yeah its texas.

and technically its still cannibalism. he's playing a human character (not even a half-orc) "raised by orcs".

bdk, yeah i've run him in that table, and another one last tues night, where he continued the comments and flesh eating, going for eating the heart out of someoen's chest.

i'm hoping to avoid getting him as a player on monday night. i'd hate to be the gm to have to say " i'd rather not run a game for you, its not as much fun for me ".

Eek. Yeah, that's a difficult position to be in. It may be worth having a discussion with him pre-game or asking the VC/VL to do so.

Ataraxias wrote:

Witch's Cook People Hex Stuff

Cook People isn't PFS legal.

Sczarni 4/5

@bdk86
He never said it's legal, only that PF states it as evil act.

Dark Archive 3/5

Malag wrote:

@bdk86

He never said it's legal, only that PF states it as evil act.

Ah! I understand the point now; I had thought it a further thread on the off-topic vein of evil descriptor spells/abilities vs. cannibalism being evil or just cultural.


bdk86 wrote:
Malag wrote:

@bdk86

He never said it's legal, only that PF states it as evil act.
Ah! I understand the point now; I had thought it a further thread on the off-topic vein of evil descriptor spells/abilities vs. cannibalism being evil or just cultural.

Yeah, I should've bolded the last bit, where the act of eating is evil.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Well, I think there are two separate issues here. First, is the mere act of eating sentient flesh the sort of evil act that would make a character unplayable in PFS play. I think this is a fair argument and I'm really not sure where I stand on that meaning I could agree with the powers that be coming down either way. The other issue is whether or not the way this particular player is portraying the cannibalism is disruptive to the play environment even if it is "legal" in PFS terms. I'm getting the sense that it is and should at the very least be dealt with those terms.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Hmm I wouldn't call it evil either though like others have said above it may be illegal/frowned upon depending on where he is. One way that you could reward the character for creative roleplay and keep things on track might be picking up eldritch heritage undead and going for the sanguine alternate for it. This allows him to consume a down enemy as a full round, heal, and count as a full meal for the day. This way he has a mechanical benefit to it but keeps him from doing it more then a few times a day and the party can find a way to rationalize it as him healing himself to continue on.

Dark Archive

If I was a player at his table and he continued with his/her over zealous cannibalism at every possible opportunity. I would simply RP my way out assisting him.

My character would simple state, "Your behavior goes against my beliefs. I will not help you if this unacceptable behavior continues. I'm neither an Orc or familiar with their traditions, and by the looks of it, would have none of it. Furthermore, by the looks on the faces of our associates, they don't seem to approve of your distastefulness."

Then I would follow through on my promise. Granted my main characters are support classes, so I might have a bit more pull.

I would only do this if it was an extreme case. Following the, "don't be a jerk" rule is what I try to do. I general don't care how people play their characters. However if I don't like something, I do let people know.

Shadow Lodge

I have a half orc character. He has proffesion BBQ Chef. He also has a code of behavior that doesn't rule out cannabalism; don't eat anything you converse with, it's bad manners (against the code of orcish barbaque, which his father made up on the fly to avoid being lynched by the good people of Kaer Maga).

Thing is, he has a standard, which he follows, which defines food and not food. It's not the commonly accepted standard but it is on some level respectful of the fact that there should be standards.

So I, and most people he has played with have not seen him as evil.

I've played with another character who makes a simular display of being evil but up to a certain point wasn't. Then, when my Paladin went to heal an injured NPC who had just had a friendly wrestling match with another character. The PC in question didn't like this. They cast cause moderate wounds, in a bar filled with a bunch of non-stated people, killing many. As far as I was concerned the character had just gone from display to Harris and Klebold school of instant alignment change.

Needless to say, the rest of the module was akward.

But it is a good compare/contrast between evil and canabalism.


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Whether or not one considers cannibalism 'evil' in and of itself, I don't think there's much denying that it is certainly one of the biggest and most severely sanctioned taboos in most real-world cultures.Let's set aside whether or not it's 'evil' for a sec, though, and let's give the benefit of the doubt that this is the player roleplaying.

If *I'm* playing in that same party and I turn around and see this other human (or whatever) chewing the meat off of a dead guy's arm in an alley (or in a sewer, or on the moon, or a mile below the earth, or wherever), and my character definitely views it as evil, freakish, aberrant, whatever, and I solve problems with swords and arrows for a living, how do I not try to kill him and still be roleplaying well?

PFS doesn't allow PVP, and I think it's a no-brainer that this is a good thing. It's a rule that does, however, require some complimentary behavior from characters to keep things from desccending into absolute ridiculousness.If we can't attack a party member then shouldn't we also avoid behavior that practically begs for violent intervention?

Shadow Lodge

J. Christopher Harris wrote:

Whether or not one considers cannibalism 'evil' in and of itself, I don't think there's much denying that it is certainly one of the biggest and most severely sanctioned taboos in most real-world cultures.Let's set aside whether or not it's 'evil' for a sec, though, and let's give the benefit of the doubt that this is the player roleplaying.

If *I'm* playing in that same party and I turn around and see this other human (or whatever) chewing the meat off of a dead guy's arm in an alley (or in a sewer, or on the moon, or a mile below the earth, or wherever), and my character definitely views it as evil, freakish, aberrant, whatever, and I solve problems with swords and arrows for a living, how do I not try to kill him and still be roleplaying well?

PFS doesn't allow PVP, and I think it's a no-brainer that this is a good thing. It's a rule that does, however, require some complimentary behavior from characters to keep things from desccending into absolute ridiculousness.If we can't attack a party member then shouldn't we also avoid behavior that practically begs for violent intervention?

I think this hits on something. My PC hints at it, notes that the Scarzi use him to get rid of bodies etc. But nothing happens 'on screen'.


For the original issue, it sounds as though he is indeed fishing for reactions. As stated earlier, wash over that part and move on. Once he stops getting a reaction, he'll probably stop eating corpses. If it's affecting the game, then it is certainly time for the talk.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

J. Christopher Harris wrote:
.If we can't attack a party member then shouldn't we also avoid behavior that practically begs for violent intervention?

No, we should avoid playing characters who's solution to a minor infraction of their moral code is 'violent intervention'. It's not the character eating the body that looks extreme in your example, it's your character's response.

Seriously, it's a dead body - it's meat. It may not be healthy for a member of the same race to eat it, but it doesn't 'beg' for violent intervention.

Now if the victim was an innocent person, and still alive, when he was being eaten then most of my characters would intervene at that point - but I would expect the GM to have intervened first to be honest...

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