Is torture evil?


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Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Rory wrote:

I encountered a Silver Crusade faction mission where a paladin group ordered me to remove corrupt thugs from the streets "at all costs". I encountered those evil thugs, and they happened to be the "law" in that part of the city. They attacked the party using non-lethal damage (please note, these are corrupt evil thugs to purge from the streets). The party subdued them in return, naturally.

Afterwards, I did my best to intimidate them. I even tossed them into the drink to get the point across to get out of town. But, I would not physically injure them nor kill them. I would not even let a barbarian companion do the dirty deed for me while I looked the other way.

I voluntarily failed the faction mission at that point.

If all "torture is evil", then the Silver Crusade is most certainly funding that particular faction mission with their Atonement insurance fund.

And technically, if torture is evil and against the PFS rules, then faction missions should never require torture and/or murder. It can't be both ways.

Regarding this faction mission...SPOILER ALERT:

Cyphermage Dilemma wrote:

Stalwart Warrior,

The crime lords of Riddleport Harbor have many pawns under their thumbs, usually mercenary thugs with little concept of virtue or honor. As of late, some of the crime lords have sought to increase their territorial holdings by intimidating citizens living in districts they have their eyes on. They rough up innocents and demanding exorbitant prices for the gang’s “protection.” Such exploitation must be stopped if law is to ever function in Riddleport. One of the worst of these is Boss Croat, who often uses half-orcs to do his dirty work. If you encounter any such thugs in your endeavors in Riddleport, make sure to take them off the streets and you will have done a good thing.

First of all, no where does it say "at all costs." Secondly, no where in the scenario are the thugs described as law-enforcement. If the GM depicted them as such either s/he was wrong, or there was some role-playing aspect involved that we are not privy to. Either way, the scenario does not describe them in such a way.

Failing faction missions happens. You tried to intimidate them which is probably what the silver crusade leadership intended. You failed, sorry. Perhaps you could have tried diplomacy and bribed them with an amount more than what Boss Croat was paying them to leave town and never return. In any case, there was no need, nor suggestion by the faction mission, for torture (or worse) of the thugs.

Now all that being said, depending on the party mix, there is nothing to say you can't just kill the thugs to complete the mission. You would succeed and earn the prestige. However, the GM may declare that an evil act and require an atonement. Perhaps the prestige is worth it, perhaps not. Either way, there were options to complete the mission without resorting to methods that the faction and/or paladins would object to and even your best efforts can still fail to complete said mission. It happens.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5

torture is evil. Mike has stated this. I am enforcing it. There isnt a grey area here. That is how we will roll in Virginia.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Paul, I agree, but I think that players have a legitimate question as to what torture IS. Mike cannot/will not define it anymore than he already has so it is up to the table GM to decide. I think some discussion amongst the community is good to help people better understand where that "line" exists. Is it as simple as causes damage vs. no physical damage? Perhaps, but some players will disagree about even that. Each of us will need to decide for him/herself what constitutes torture and be prepared for player objections.

Shadow Lodge

Júlíus Árnason wrote:


That's not how the world works, that correct. But it is how Campaign leadership wants the Organized Play to work.

This isn't (or shouldn't be) an argument on the definition of torture or trying to parse some morsels of meaning form Mike's answer. According to PFS Campaign Leadership torture is evil and torture is defined as causing excessive pain and suffering. Excessive is not a complicated word and there aren't degrees of "excessive pain".

Sure there are, because there are degrees of pain much before it turns into excessive pain. Where's the limit? We can assume there are persons who wont break no matter what level of pain or suffering is used. There are persons who will break at some ridiculously high level of suffering. Then there's a level of pain where only very weak-willed or despondent individuals will break, or just at the threat of it. Also, there's the problem that because the subject person will try to spin lies, there's the problem that at some point you wont you wont know whether they have broken and told the truth or not.

I would also very well argue that what the party is trying to accomplish with the intimidated does affect what is considered excessive. Slamming on the wall and knocking unconscious might be excessive pain and suffering when someone refuses to give directions, but definitely not when the subject has critical information regarding to the whereabouts of captives who are going to be killed. But even then, there might be differing opinions on what you can't do no matter what. I would personally consider any permanent damage like cutting off fingers always evil, but not necessarily just plain hitpoint damage depending on the circumstances. This could be due to personal experiences regarding pain and physical injuries, I'm not really afraid of those and don't see the big deal with stuff that heals. The mental aspect of torture is much scarier for me.

All in all, do not try to kid yourself into believing there are any clear cut lines anywhere around this _extremely difficult subject_. Stop it. You're making fools of yourself just trying to signal high level of morality. Just hope you won't run into the grey areas and if you do, try to be patient if there are conflicting opinions.

Shadow Lodge

Also 'realistically', if the pathfinder society gains a reputation as an organisation which is inherently non-evil and will not carry intimidates through more than just a bit of roughing, this should implicitly mean negative circumstance penalty to most intimidate attempts where the target recognizes you as a pathfinder society member. This penalty could be lessened if you manage to convince the target that you're actually a rogue, get-things-done member instead. But even then the penalty should only lessen, not negate, because the target still has an angle to exploit against the intimidator.

The whole problem here is the inherent dynamic interaction between threat of violence towards someone in a inferior power position and intimidate as a technique in the first place. If the person in inferior power position knows that the person in power is actually rather constrained the intimidation will be much less effective. Target gains a sense of physical safety. If the interaction between the target and the enforcer is richer than just random encounter, the intimidate might rely on other effects than just plain threat of violence or force of personality, such as threats of other action that undesirable by the target, etc. but how often does that happen in the fantasy setting?

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Iridian wrote:
All in all, do not try to kid yourself into believing there are any clear cut lines anywhere around this _extremely difficult subject_. Stop it. You're making fools of yourself just trying to signal high level of morality. Just hope you won't run into the grey areas and if you do, try to be patient if there are conflicting opinions

Fortunately, we don't have to debate it since Mike has made the clear ruling that torture is evil. Period. At this point, personal moralities are irrelevant. The only remaining question is what is/not torture (defined as excessive pain and suffering). Only the table GM can answer that definitively, so YMMV.

Explore! Report! Cooperate!

5/5 5/55/55/5

I think the pathfinders have enough reputation as murderous hobos to coast on for a while even if they do clean up their act...

Shadow Lodge

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Bob Jonquet wrote:


Fortunately, we don't have to debate it since Mike has made the clear ruling that torture is evil. Period. At this point, personal moralities are irrelevant. The only remaining question is what is/not torture (defined as excessive pain and suffering).

You see, we agree here. My point is that there are no clear cut lines anywhere around this subject exactly because the question on what is and what's not torture is and will be grey. This question is not "the only thing that's remaning". It's the very only question that has ever been meaningful in this discussion.

We could replace the term "torture" with "booboo" and say "Booboo is evil, but we can't define booboo specifically." and be really none the wiser. They're just words. Saying booboo is evil without defining what booboo is specifically, is just empty. I exaggerate a bit here of course: torture and excessive pain do have some generally understood if hazy meaning and thus give some general guidelines which will probably be enough for most practical situations. This is probably more than was before this discussion. Like always, discussions push the grey area back a bit and that's a good thing.

But still, please do not pretend that the original question is somehow.. clearly answered. Even though it was opened with "is torture evil?" it's quite obvious that what was being searched for is not semantics and associations of the word torture. Instead, what is sought is actual guidelines on what kind of game play behaviour is evil and what is not, around all kinds of behaviour that revolve around the scope of intimidation and torture. Then answering this repeatedly with something along the lines of 'yeah torture is evil but it's actually up to you to decide what's torture and what's not when the situation gets hazy' does not really say that much.

Liberty's Edge

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
I don't recall any of my PFS characters murdering anyone. They've all felled enemies in battle, and there's been the occasional execution of an exceptionally heinous evildoer, but no murders.
I agree - people often confuse murder and killing. A soldier is not inherently a murderer, nor is an executioner.

So there's been a declaration of war against all the orcs, goblins, ruffians, and miscreants your character has killed? There's been writ of executions provided for the executions of "heinous evildoers" from proper authorities?

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/5 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

Iridian, you do have good points -- I've got a background in philosophy so I feel where you're coming from -- however, you're wrong with this statement.

Iridian wrote:
But still, please do not pretend that the original question is somehow.. clearly answered.

This is the original question...

Fromper wrote:
Is torture always evil, in the context of PFS alignment infraction rules?

...and this is the response.

Michael Brock wrote:
Yes torture is evil.

Mike speaks on behalf of PFS issues only. So the question was actually very clearly answered. He even clarified intimidation v/torture too.

Michael Brock wrote:

Intimidation is when you threaten to do physical harm that would cause maiming, injury, etc...

Torture is when you deliberatly cause pain and suffering to an individual and they are unable to defend themselves. It also includes inflicting such pain for the purposes of obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession or needlessly and excessively punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed (even if you can heal the damage afterwards)

The discussion of the morality surrounding torture is one that could continue in another forum (one I would continue to read because I find it interesting), but not one that's devoted to the realm of PFS -- which is what I believe Bob was trying to say.

Smiles and sunshine for everyone? :)

Shadow Lodge

Walter Sheppard wrote:

This is the original question...

Fromper wrote:
Is torture always evil, in the context of PFS alignment infraction rules?

...and this is the response.

Michael Brock wrote:
Yes torture is evil.

*Sigh*. You're cherry-picking. Original question:

Fromper wrote:
Is torture always evil, in the context of PFS alignment infraction rules? How violent does it have to be to be considered torture?

The second question is the more important and telling part of the question. He made the follow-up question expecting the answer to the first question to be yes. Which I would have expected too, given PFS.

You're also misquoting the torture clarification, Michael added the 'excessive' there later on, which waters that definition down. And good that he did, because the definition you quoted was so strict it was causing issues.
Walter Sheppard wrote:
Smiles and sunshine for everyone? :)

You're trying to make peace, and even though I might not agree with the rhetoric means you're trying to achieve it, I will drop the issue. This thread should now die, as after the initial confusion was corrected with "excessive"-amendment the only really meaningful information contained here is this:

Michael Brock wrote:
Slapping a bound man probably does not cause excessive pain. Filleting his fingers probably does. This is one of those situations where I can not provide an absolute definition for every situation that may occur so I leave it to the GMs to make the best interpretation they possibly can.

Which actually doesn't change the status quo quite much.

Silver Crusade

Yes, Next question please.


I am not certain, but I do know that I would not like someone to torture me so.

Liberty's Edge

Torture can be seen as a necessary evil by some.

A necessary evil is still evil.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:

I do, in fact, intend to leave it open to GM interpretation. How many times do posters here request we give GMs more authority at the table to adjudicate rules and situations?

Slapping a bound man probably does not cause excessive pain. Filleting his fingers probably does. This is one of those situations where I can not provide an absolute definition for every situation that may occur so I leave it to the GMs to make the best interpretation they possibly can.

Torture is evil. I think most people out there understand when someone is being tortured and someone isn't. GMs use your best judgement when it happens at a table.

The real problem with that faction mission was that the order was given by a Faction Leader who is a Paladin herself. That alone takes the question to new levels.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

LazarX wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:

I do, in fact, intend to leave it open to GM interpretation. How many times do posters here request we give GMs more authority at the table to adjudicate rules and situations?

Slapping a bound man probably does not cause excessive pain. Filleting his fingers probably does. This is one of those situations where I can not provide an absolute definition for every situation that may occur so I leave it to the GMs to make the best interpretation they possibly can.

Torture is evil. I think most people out there understand when someone is being tortured and someone isn't. GMs use your best judgement when it happens at a table.

The real problem with that faction mission was that the order was given by a Faction Leader who is a Paladin herself. That alone takes the question to new levels.

Not really. The faction mission "is not an evil act" rule only works if the actual action required is evil (i.e. "cut out his tongue"). But just because you chose to solve a mission in an evil way does not absolve you per the above rule.

5/5 5/55/55/5

The real problem with that faction mission was that the order was given by a Faction Leader who is a Paladin herself. That alone takes the question to new levels.

_the faction mission was not presented to you properly. The facts around it are not what you think they are.

Grand Lodge 2/5 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

ShadowcatX wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
I don't recall any of my PFS characters murdering anyone. They've all felled enemies in battle, and there's been the occasional execution of an exceptionally heinous evildoer, but no murders.
I agree - people often confuse murder and killing. A soldier is not inherently a murderer, nor is an executioner.
So there's been a declaration of war against all the orcs, goblins, ruffians, and miscreants your character has killed? There's been writ of executions provided for the executions of "heinous evildoers" from proper authorities?

1. None of my PCs have ever killed an orc.

2. My PCs have protected more goblins than they have killed, and those my PCs have killed were the ones who started the fight (with clear intent of not-subdual, for the record).
3. Yes, a time or two a PC of mine DID receive a written order to execute someone, from an authority figure, along with a description of the subject's crimes.

Believe it or not, I did not lie to you.

1/5

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Paul, I agree, but I think that players have a legitimate question as to what torture IS. Mike cannot/will not define it anymore than he already has so it is up to the table GM to decide. I think some discussion amongst the community is good to help people better understand where that "line" exists. Is it as simple as causes damage vs. no physical damage? Perhaps, but some players will disagree about even that. Each of us will need to decide for him/herself what constitutes torture and be prepared for player objections.

If you have to ask the question...

Seriously, this isn't hard.

(Especially as, given how the intimidate rules work, there's no benefit for cutting people's fingers off, or whatever depraved nonsense the players come up with)

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Funky Badger wrote:

If you have to ask the question...

Seriously, this isn't hard.

That's not really constructive for people who are actually serious about understanding where the line is/should be drawn.


I would say hit point damage (lethal or non-lethal) would be "torture" in the game. However, I would allow a Player to "role-play" an intimidation check by saying "I punch the guy in the gut," or "I throw him to the floor" without it causing hit point damage.


Don Walker wrote:

If it is part of a Faction mission, then you get a pass - unless you're a Paladin who must live by a higher code.

It is in the PFS Guide v4.3, page 36 Alignment Infractions first paragraph.

Tell that to my gunslinger in fortress of the nail


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Yeah, my Sczarni gunslinger ran into the same likely issue in Fortress.

As for torture, from a metagame standpoint, why do it? A good intimidate roll usually accomplishes the same result.

:)

-j

1/5

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:

If you have to ask the question...

Seriously, this isn't hard.

That's not really constructive for people who are actually serious about understanding where the line is/should be drawn.

I'm perfectly serious - what kind of sociopath can't make the distinction?

There's no way to draw a solid line, because whatever you do, someone will come up with another "What about..." example.

And, as pointed out, there's no mechanical benefit to doing it anyway...

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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I say slapping them around a bit, maybe even cause a couple points nonlethal is not torture.

The difference is between an action star who looks and acts tough, slaps bad guy or maybe even punches him a couple times and what Guys like Jack Bauer or Michael Chickless's character in The Shield did.

Necessary to save millions for Jack Bauer, yes. But he knew what he did was flat out evil, but he took the moral karma sacrifice upon himself for his family, friends, President, Country, and the World.

Slapping around or eve slugging a couple times to show you mean business and aren't bluffing, fine. Digging your fingers into open wound ala the newest Conan movie or shocking them to near death like Bauer, not OK.

I'm pretty sure this is what Mike was referring to when he said excessive.

But each GM has to determine where the line is at their own table. And I would not be upset if playing my Szarni tough another GM ruled more strictly.

Expect table variation and respect the line each GM feels is appropriate.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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The only thing I think that would upset me is if a GM decided a standard, "I'm threatening you," intimidate check was torture.

Dark Archive 4/5 5/5 ***

My character only participates in enhanced interrogation. Torture is just to passe

Silver Crusade

Some various thoughts on all this:

- When the head of PFS has given a call on this, I suspect that counts as "the GM's ruling for the table" across all PFS tables. "What constitutes torture" is a legitimate question and worth discussing, though. The "how upset would you be if someone did this to you, your friend, or a relative during interrogations?" standard seems like a good starting point, and others have brought it up already.

- For what it's worth, there are tons of much better options to get useful information than straight-up torture. One example is the "Good cop bad cop" (aka "Mutt and Jeff" in some regions, I believe?) tactic which can work quite well, though PF's rules don't directly support this. It may require explicitly telling your GM you're trying to do it. One possible usage is the Intimidator ('bad cop') does their Intimidate thing, threatens and rants and raves and puts on the pressure, they might even dish out a slap or punch to cement themselves as the antagonist in this interrogation, but nothing that crosses into deep pain or lasting harm...

...Then Diplomator ('good cop') shows up and firmly takes charge of the situation. "What the hell was that!? That's totally out of line! Leave! Go cool your head you maniac, I'LL talk with this guy." Then they do Diplomacy, let on that they actually know more (they don't, but there are tons of ways to subtle dangle false info and then have someone correct it into true info for you) than 'that maniac' was aware of, that so long as the person being interrogated is civil and cooperative that Intimidator won't be coming back, etc. This PC might even offer a bit of food and drink to the subject, further working into the subject's confidence.

Doesn't always work, but it's an option that A> Involves multiple PCs, giving at least two of them a time in the spotlight, and B> Has no need for an arcane or divine caster in the party. So long as they have decent Diplomacy and Intimidate (Bluff helps too, esp. for the 'dangle false info to be corrected' part) and the GM is aware of the dynamics of this tactic, it's a possibility. I'm not going to claim it's sure-fire, but it's definitely an option to get info without violence.

- Magic, when available, can also be a handy way to get what you need. Others have brought this up, but it's worth repeating.

- Straight-up torture isn't always likely to get useful info. The "ticking time bomb" scenario comes up... if the person being interrogated knows they only need to hold out for X amount of time for their plan to conclude then they might just try to endure it. Or if they 'break' and must say something, they might say something false. After all, by the time the PCs finish checking out the fake lead (and this is easy to make up on the spot. "It's in the temple!", etc.)... it may be too late to find the real location. As torture makes the subject resent their interrogator, they'll also have an incentive to modify or omit important details even if they DO tell the truth. After all, being coerced to admit the mission-critical item is in the inn's basement is one thing... but they might conveniently 'forget' to mention the nasty traps sprinkled along the route. Or mention them but give incorrect trap-disarming info.

There are just so many ways blatant torture can backfire on the PCs that I wouldn't even consider it a viable intelligence gathering tactic. Implication (via Intimidate) of 'problems' if the subject doesn't talk seems to mechanically work better in Pathfinder anyway, as others have mentioned.

Sovereign Court

ShadowcatX wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
I don't recall any of my PFS characters murdering anyone. They've all felled enemies in battle, and there's been the occasional execution of an exceptionally heinous evildoer, but no murders.
I agree - people often confuse murder and killing. A soldier is not inherently a murderer, nor is an executioner.
So there's been a declaration of war against all the orcs, goblins, ruffians, and miscreants your character has killed? There's been writ of executions provided for the executions of "heinous evildoers" from proper authorities?

No - my character is like the soldier. Soldiers don't need writs to kill, nor are there always declarations of war. Heck - the US hasn't declared war since WW II. I included the executioner as an example of someone killing unarmed and helpless people without being a murderer.

1/5

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
ShadowcatX wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
I don't recall any of my PFS characters murdering anyone. They've all felled enemies in battle, and there's been the occasional execution of an exceptionally heinous evildoer, but no murders.
I agree - people often confuse murder and killing. A soldier is not inherently a murderer, nor is an executioner.
So there's been a declaration of war against all the orcs, goblins, ruffians, and miscreants your character has killed? There's been writ of executions provided for the executions of "heinous evildoers" from proper authorities?
No - my character is like the soldier. Soldiers don't need writs to kill, nor are there always declarations of war. Heck - the US hasn't declared war since WW II. I included the executioner as an example of someone killing unarmed and helpless people without being a murderer.

They just need someone to tell them to do it. And in the more civilised regions, a moral compass to check that's okay.

Liberty's Edge 3/5

Somewhere Dick Cheney is giving an evil little smile. *sigh*

Dark Archive

talbanus wrote:
Somewhere Dick Cheney is giving an evil little smile. *sigh*

Torture is a tool. It is not inherently good or evil. It is subjuctive based upon the context it is used in, just like punching someone in the face or shooting someone. Sometimes those actions are warranted, and sometimes they are not. If someone is a naive idealist that wants simple answers to complicated questions, then I guess they will think torture is always good or always bad.

But if we were all sitting in front of a terrorist tied to a chair who knew about a bomb in a school bus full of kindergarteners that was set to go off in 1 hour, I'm pretty sure most of us adults wouldn't mind taking a few swings at his kneecaps with a baseball bat to get him to start talking.

If you do nothing and the bomb explodes and kills the children, you should be prepared to tell the parents that depsite their beloved children got blown apart across the highway, they can take solace in the fact that we did the "right" thing and didnt resort to torture.

If the bomb still explodes and you did torture the terrorist, well then you can honestly say you did try everything possible to save their children. I'd rather live with the guilt of torturing a terorist than live with the guilt of knowing I didnt do everything I could to save those children from being killed.

It's the Kobiyashi Maru. Pick your poison, there is no easy answer.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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Oops_I_Crit_My_Pants wrote:
Torture is a tool. It is not inherently good or evil.

No, torture is not a tool. There is no mundane use for it. It is not a drill, which could be used to build a house or to cripple a man. It's using that drill on a man until he tells you what you want to know.

Live with the guilt, but don't try to tell yourself it wasn't evil. Necessary evil, if it exists, is still evil.

Dark Archive 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Mapping real world ethics into a game where those ethics have measurable physical manifestations is a serious challenge, Oops.

For PFS purposes, we have an explicit statement that torture is evil, and a measuring stick to apply as GMs. That's good enough for now.

There's been some arguments made about the efficacy of torture and how to use it as ethically as possible elsewhere. They're.... an interesting counterpoint to Celestial Pegasus' points.

Dark Archive 4/5 5/55/5 **** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Midwest

Perhaps another interesting measure of this is the Interrogation spell (inquisitor 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, witch 1). This spell, which causes a subject pain (damage 1d4+WIS bonus), has the descriptors of Evil, Necromancy.

Really, this spell is misnamed... it should be named Torture, because that is what it does... and is called out specifically for being evil.

I would say that torture in Golarion is unequivocally evil. In the real world, I would say that it is as well, no matter how you spin it. But, in the codified world of Golarion, there is no doubt.

Sovereign Court

Exactly - torture is evil. The only real question is when interrogation becomes torture. I think the way to answer that is to ask yourself WWBD (What Would Batman Do?) as Batman does rough up the bad guys to get info - but I don't think that it's ever qualified as torture.

Liberty's Edge

Oops_I_Crit_My_Pants wrote:
talbanus wrote:
Somewhere Dick Cheney is giving an evil little smile. *sigh*

Torture is a tool. It is not inherently good or evil. It is subjuctive based upon the context it is used in, just like punching someone in the face or shooting someone. Sometimes those actions are warranted, and sometimes they are not. If someone is a naive idealist that wants simple answers to complicated questions, then I guess they will think torture is always good or always bad.

But if we were all sitting in front of a terrorist tied to a chair who knew about a bomb in a school bus full of kindergarteners that was set to go off in 1 hour, I'm pretty sure most of us adults wouldn't mind taking a few swings at his kneecaps with a baseball bat to get him to start talking.

If you do nothing and the bomb explodes and kills the children, you should be prepared to tell the parents that depsite their beloved children got blown apart across the highway, they can take solace in the fact that we did the "right" thing and didnt resort to torture.

If the bomb still explodes and you did torture the terrorist, well then you can honestly say you did try everything possible to save their children. I'd rather live with the guilt of torturing a terorist than live with the guilt of knowing I didnt do everything I could to save those children from being killed.

It's the Kobiyashi Maru. Pick your poison, there is no easy answer.

Actually you are giving it the easy answer here : "Yes, it is evil, when I do not feel like doing it. But when I feel like doing it, obviously it is good."

Dark Archive 4/5 5/55/5 **** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Midwest

Interesting, the spell Persuasive Goad is not an evil spell, even though it specifically causes pain. It is a necromancy[pain] spell, but not evil. The big difference here? The damage is non-lethal.

This would sort of fit in with Mike Brock's definition of what is torture, especially in the definition of "excessive".

Liberty's Edge 3/5

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Oops_I_Crit_My_Pants wrote:
Torture is a tool. It is not inherently good or evil.

No, torture is not a tool. There is no mundane use for it. It is not a drill, which could be used to build a house or to cripple a man. It's using that drill on a man until he tells you what you want to know.

Live with the guilt, but don't try to tell yourself it wasn't evil. Necessary evil, if it exists, is still evil.

Thank you. You saved me from typing out a rant against the sort of 'moral relativism' that seems to be in vogue in certain parts of western society. The same moral relativism that's used to justify doing things that in the past would have gotten one labeled a monster. Some peoples' ability to justify their actions really disturbs me (I'm not talking about in game actions).

Sovereign Court

Of note - moral realtivism isn't a new thing. Hobbs promoted the whole ends justify the means philosophy in the early 17th century. And it certainly wasn't the first time.

Liberty's Edge 3/5

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Of note - moral realtivism isn't a new thing. Hobbs promoted the whole ends justify the means philosophy in the early 17th century. And it certainly wasn't the first time.

Yes, we've had selfish douchebaggery and worse since men formed societies. Hobbs just 'codified' it into a philosophy. One might argue that Ayn Rand's philosophies are an off-shoot of Hobbsian thinking. It's a long standing push and pull between protection of society and allowance for individual exceptionalism and achievement. In my opinion, though, trying to justify torture of prisoners as morally 'all right' is beyond the pale. Again, I wish I were just talking about in-game issues. The fact that there wasn't/hasn't been more outrage surrounding documented cases of torture purveyed by my government makes me pretty sad. When did making every effort to be 'the good guys' stop being part of our national identity?

Sorry for the diatribe. This subject just touches a sensitive nerve of mine.

Edited: English defeats me.

Sovereign Court

Ayn Rand? Really? I'd say she was the opposite. Her whole individualist philosophy wouldn't have been okay with the torture of one for 'the greater good'. There was even an example of that being done by the bad guys in Atlas Shrugged. That's more of a communist vibe.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Exactly - torture is evil. The only real question is when interrogation becomes torture. I think the way to answer that is to ask yourself WWBD (What Would Batman Do?) as Batman does rough up the bad guys to get info - but I don't think that it's ever qualified as torture.

Batman tends to vary tremendously in character depending on writers. People setting Frank Miller's Batman as a safe standard to operate in PFS are asking for trouble.

Also in "Under the Red Hood" Batman has been shown to do enough damage on occasion to put Joker into a body cast. As far as we know though, Joker has never given anything up to Batman unless it suited his own twisted aims.

Liberty's Edge 3/5

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Ayn Rand? Really? I'd say she was the opposite. Her whole individualist philosophy wouldn't have been okay with the torture of one for 'the greater good'. There was even an example of that being done by the bad guys in Atlas Shrugged. That's more of a communist vibe.

I meant in the sense that both philosophies, Hobb's moral relativism and Ayn Rand's Objectivism can and are seen as devices that can be used by those that wish to excuse their own selfish behavior. Or, another way of looking at it would be: communism, in theory, is for the greater good, but in practice it has shown to be prone to corruption by selfishness. Objectivism, on the other hand, presses 'go' and holds selfish behavior up as a beacon of exceptional light in a world of mediocrity. And I wouldn't call Ms. Rand's use of that torture scene in her novel an indictment of torture so much as effort to get the reader to believe (as perhaps she did?) that it was only left-leaning institutions that use such tactics (this in spite of a mountain of historical evidence to the contrary ...).

Silver Crusade 2/5

In reality, morals are somewhat arbitrary and relative from culture to culture.

However, in a fantasy world with aligned deities granting real-world power to disciplines, suddenly everything becomes a lot more clear. The morality spectrum is as these deities dictate. If the goodly deities consider torture evil, then its literally evil.

As far as the US is concerned, there's plenty of evidence to support the thesis that the US has never really been the "good guy" throughout our history. Suddenly the torture thing makes a lot more sense and seems a lot less out of character.

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