Inquisitors and torture


Advice

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Weirdo wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
Demeter is the one who caused a famine because Zeus gave Hades permission to kidnap Demeter's daughter.
In defense of Demeter, per the myth, her daughter was kidnapped, raped, and being held captive by her rapist and nobody was willing to do a damn thing about it. Flipping out in an 'I will f**! everything all to hell if you don't rescue my daughter' way is pretty understandable.

Absolutely understandable, and most of the blame lies on Zeus and Hades for creating the entire situation.

But it does illustrate the fact that even the best of the Greek gods don't care that much about mortal suffering.

Worth noting that there are variations on the myth that make Persephone more of a willing lover of Hades rather than a kidnapping victim. Of course, that just makes Demeter look worse, because then she's throwing a fit over Empty Nest Syndrome.

Back on topic, I think one thing that complicates the whole issue is where the line is on torture. Technically speaking, inflicting pain on someone who can't resist is torture, but a lot of people tend to see it as requiring something a bit more deliberate. To break out a pop culture reference, most people would object to the idea that Batman tortures criminals, despite the fact that he's not shy about threatening or inflicting pain to force cooperation.


Batman always appears to be a hop, skip, and a jump away from murdering criminals, and for someone reason they all, to a man, believe he WILL kill them (unless they answer his question) even though (in most continuities) he has never killed anyone.

This is because Batman is just as much a fantasy as Jack Bauer, or the Inquisitor of Hera with magical powers.

The Exchange

boring7 wrote:
This is because Batman is just as much a fantasy as Jack Bauer, or the Inquisitor of Hera with magical powers.

I was suddenly reminded of the old Internet joke about Batman being of every alignment. Everything he does violates his alignment! Either that - or nothing does. But given that the PF assumption is that the GM will punish violations, rather than reward adherence, I'll go with the first (and funnier) one.

Liberty's Edge

Renegadeshepherd wrote:

Here's another angle....

In modern day law there is a criminal charge known as "assault". Contrary to public opinion, assault is not beating someone but is in fact making someone believe they are in danger of physical harm. Therefore basic intimidation skill would be unlawful (even if a misdemeanor). So if any reasonably comparable law was introduced the GM into Golarian then it is possible, though unfair, for a deity of LG to shun their inquisitor because he broke law and was being semi-bad. I recommend talking to your player about what you are willing to accept because its clear the there are many varying opinions in just this thread, so you know it will happen at your table.

It's always a good idea to talk to your GM about the nature of alignment in their game.

However, equating intimidation, or even assault, with torture is one of those 'false equivalency' things, and not really appropriate, IMO. Some things you shouldn't need to ask the GM about. Killing small children, rape, torture...all that sort of thing.

Chengar Qordath wrote:
Worth noting that there are variations on the myth that make Persephone more of a willing lover of Hades rather than a kidnapping victim. Of course, that just makes Demeter look worse, because then she's throwing a fit over Empty Nest Syndrome.

True enough.

Chengar Qordath wrote:
Back on topic, I think one thing that complicates the whole issue is where the line is on torture. Technically speaking, inflicting pain on someone who can't resist is torture, but a lot of people tend to see it as requiring something a bit more deliberate. To break out a pop culture reference, most people would object to the idea that Batman tortures criminals, despite the fact that he's not shy about threatening or inflicting pain to force cooperation.

When well written, Batman very rarely hurts his prisoners in any way. He just scares the ever-loving piss out of them in one way or another.


Lincoln Hills wrote:
boring7 wrote:
This is because Batman is just as much a fantasy as Jack Bauer, or the Inquisitor of Hera with magical powers.
I was suddenly reminded of the old Internet joke about Batman being of every alignment. Everything he does violates his alignment! Either that - or nothing does. But given that the PF assumption is that the GM will punish violations, rather than reward adherence, I'll go with the first (and funnier) one.

Ah yes, the Batman Alignment Chart. Basically Batman has his own alignment called "Batman" which changes depending on who's doing the writing.


Batman is lawful good but doesn't lose his powers when he violates his alignment.


It's always a fun concept that a Neutral Evil character violates his alignment. What did he do? Hug too many puppies? Stuck to his word too many times? Gave to the poor a little too much without an ulterior motive?


Oh jeez. This thread is weird.

If I know the bad guy knows where the dying children are, you can bet damn sure that any good character would do just about anything in pursuit of saving them.

The weird thing about objective morality worlds is that doing bad to create more good or lessen total evil is a good act. Objective morality is quantitative(And to a lesser degree qualitative). Damning a soul to hell to save two souls is a +1 Good. Sure you did a bad, but in objective worlds of morality, it works.

Robbing the free will of someone and forcing them to do Good, say, through a helm of opposite alignment is a good act.

Tacticslion could probably put all this more eloquently than me however. TLDR: Objective Morality lets you get away with bad stuff if it causes more good stuff.


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No. Specifically and expressly no. You are thinking of relative morality. In an objective morality setting, it is what you do that counts, the ends are less important. If a paladin kills a possessed child to save the entire world from annihilation, he still falls.


Sissyl wrote:
No. Specifically and expressly no. You are thinking of relative morality. In an objective morality setting, it is what you do that counts, the ends are less important. If a paladin kills a possessed child to save the entire world from annihilation, he still falls.

May be true but he is goin to have a lot of people thanking him.


Honestly, I like the notion that there are gods which ascribe to teleological ethics, and other gods that ascribe to deontological ethics, and both approaches are consistent within a given alignment (since, after all, it's divine and intelligent forces that decide this stuff.)

Since the basis for ordinary, everyday ethical reasoning is really naive utilitarianism, I could see absolutely constructing a lawful good god in a custom setting whose code of ethics is something like Bentham's Hedonistic Calculus (the benefit of divinity would manifest as actually being able to execute the algorithm.)

Of course, the deontological LG god would hate that guy.

Liberty's Edge

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Scavion wrote:

Oh jeez. This thread is weird.

If I know the bad guy knows where the dying children are, you can bet damn sure that any good character would do just about anything in pursuit of saving them.

Which would be relevant if torture worked. But it doesn't, so it's not.

And even if it did...this just makes it the kind of Evil act that Good characters might perform, not makes it somehow not Evil.

Scavion wrote:

The weird thing about objective morality worlds is that doing bad to create more good or lessen total evil is a good act. Objective morality is quantitative(And to a lesser degree qualitative). Damning a soul to hell to save two souls is a +1 Good. Sure you did a bad, but in objective worlds of morality, it works.

Robbing the free will of someone and forcing them to do Good, say, through a helm of opposite alignment is a good act.

Tacticslion could probably put all this more eloquently than me however. TLDR: Objective Morality lets you get away with bad stuff if it causes more good stuff.

This doesn't follow logically at all. Objective morality just means there is one standard of morality (or set of standards) that applies to everyone (or several standards that apply to people in a sytematic manner). It could be teleolgical (as you assert), deontological, aretelogical, or all three as suggested here. Couldn't matter less, for purposes of determining its objectivity.

The only thing needed for it to be objective is for the same standards to apply to everyone under the same circumstances (which could include something like teleogical standards applying to Chaotic people and deontological to Lawful ones, if you like) and be measurable. Those standards can be literally any set of standards and it's still objective.

So the question you really need to ask is: What standards do I, the GM, think are appropriate as universal moral principles?

And for me, those include Good people being people who, in the real world wouldn't be likely to be prosecuted for war crimes, don't commit rape, don't torture people, and don't kill children. For a start.

I really can't comprehend, on some emotional level, why people would want to let Good mean torturing people whenever you feel it's convenient. Even in a game where torture is an effective tool for information extraction (which I dislike the idea of, but can see the appeal, I suppose), it should clearly be a refuge of last resort, a difficult moral choice between doing something bad and something worse happening. It should be the lesser Evil...but a lesser Evil is still Evil. Having this be a difficult choice makes for a vastly better story than something where you can torture people as often as you like (which is creepy and sends such a wrong message I don't even have words for it), after all.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
I really can't comprehend, on some emotional level, why people would want to let Good mean torturing people whenever you feel it's convenient.

I feel like my words are being taken out of context.

But I'll bow out since people obviously have rather strict interpretations.

Yes, I do believe committing an evil act that ultimately creates more good cannot logically be looked upon as evil. Clearly you've created more good so such an action must not always be considered evil.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Having this be a difficult choice makes for a vastly better story than something where you can torture people as often as you like (which is creepy and sends such a wrong message I don't even have words for it), after all.

I am not promoting such.

I promote variety of action. If my Paladin player is stumped and he knows the prisoner has valuable information that could result in far greater good for one evil person's suffering, I'm not gonna fall him for torturing an evil cultist for information. I'd like him to follow Law and make sure he has permission to do such first, but otherwise I'd be okay with it.

But I suppose I like grittier games than most.

Liberty's Edge

Scavion wrote:
I feel like my words are being taken out of context.

The last bit wasn't really directed at you specifically. I just got started on the topic and went with it. Sorry if I offended.

Scavion wrote:
But I'll bow out since people obviously have rather strict interpretations.

Eh. It's not like I'd make people instantly evil for torturing someone. It's just an Evil act...which do have consequences.

Scavion wrote:
Yes, I do believe committing an evil act that ultimately creates more good cannot logically be looked upon as evil. Clearly you've created more good so such an action must not always be considered evil.

I disagree, but that's a supportable position. It's just not the only way to do objective alignment.

Scavion wrote:
I am not promoting such.

That's good. :)

Scavion wrote:
I promote variety of action. If my Paladin player is stumped and he knows the prisoner has valuable information that could result in far greater good for one evil person's suffering, I'm not gonna fall him for torturing an evil cultist for information. I'd like him to follow Law and make sure he has permission to do such first, but otherwise I'd be okay with it.

There are two real issues I have with this:

#1: Torture doesn't work as an information extraction tool.

#2: Paladins are supposed to be the ultimate examples of Good and Righteousness. For me, that includes not torturing people. Now, another LG character, in a world where torture works, might easily do so (it'd be an Evil act, but one act doesn't generally shift Alignment)...but a Paladin should be above such things. Damn it.

Scavion wrote:
But I suppose I like grittier games than most.

It's not about being gritty. You can run a very gritty game with heroes who'd never do this sort of thing, because gritty has more to do with the world they inhabit and how it responds to their actions than it does with what those actions are.

And shouldn't gritty characters be, I dunno, either Neutral or at least likely to slip into Neutral than more heroic ones? Assuming you're using Alignment at all, of course.


Deadmanwalking wrote:


#1: Torture doesn't work as an information extraction tool.

#2: Paladins are supposed to be the ultimate examples of Good and Righteousness. For me, that includes not torturing people. Now, another LG character, in a world where torture works, might easily do so (it'd be an Evil act, but one act doesn't generally shift Alignment)...but a Paladin should be above such things. Damn it.

#1: At all? I'm fairly certain there are numerous accounts of it's success. As a child, pain was a very convincing method of making me tell the truth.

#2: I consider Paladins paragons of Good. They'll seek to do the most good full stop. Granted I allow Paladins to be Any Good, so LG attachments I don't agree with. Half the time, Torture is mandated as a lawful action in any event.


Deadmanwalking wrote:


#1: Torture doesn't work as an information extraction tool.

Been doing some background reading on the subject due to playing in the Way of the Wicked AP right now. I think the conclusion I've reached so far is that torture works quite well as an information extraction tool as long as you aren't too hung up on truth.

For a LE witch who is able to disguise herself as an inquisitor of the LG god and who is interested in sowing dissension among the enemy, torture and false confessions are way useful.

I do feel that torture lies at the bottom of the deep end of the alignment pool regardless of its effectiveness or lack thereof. The alignment rules talk about hurting and oppressing others. They don't say much about getting a pass if you do it efficiently.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
The only thing needed for it to be objective is for the same standards to apply to everyone under the same circumstances (which could include something like teleogical standards applying to Chaotic people and deontological to Lawful ones, if you like) and be measurable. Those standards can be literally any set of standards and it's still objective.

I don't really like the notion that "lawful" = deontological and "chaotic" = "teleological" since the law itself is itself sometimes an "ends justify the means" entity. Take for example eminent domain laws, through which the government can seize your property (compensating you by an amount they decide) because they figure that what they plan to do with the space will benefit more people than you continuing to use that land for whatever you would use it for.

I think whether we justify our actions through what they accomplish versus what important principles they exemplify/adhere to is a level deeper than "law/chaos."


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I know most people don't run paladins "by-the-book," but I can help but wonder about a paladin that would be allowed to torture but not to lie...

Liberty's Edge

Scavion wrote:
#1: At all? I'm fairly certain there are numerous accounts of it's success. As a child, pain was a very convincing method of making me tell the truth.

Pretty much at all, yeah. You occasionally get a bit of information out of it, but it's mixed with so many lies that it's a nightmare to sort the wheat from the chaff, and a wide variety of more humane interrogation methods are also vastly more effective. The problem is, people will say literally anything you want them to under torture...but they'll pretty universally lie at least some of the time, and will absolutely tell you what you want to hear whether it's true or not.

In order to get good information out of someone you torture, you absolutely require an immediate and completely reliable way to check whether what they're saying is true, and one that doesn't cost much if they lied. Your parents and others usually have that when you're a kid...but in the situation where you want to torture someone? That's almost never the case.

For example, torture really could be used to get the combination to a lock if there's no consequence to getting it wrong...but if there's a trap set off by the wrong combination, you're almost certainly going to get the wrong one. Ditto if the lock is somewhere secure where whoever's going in would be screwed by lacking the combo. In short, it's applicability is so limited as to be nonexistent.

Also, and just as important, the threat of torture or death is usually at least as effective as actual torture, often more so (think about the lock example above...why is pulling the guy's fingernails off gonna be more effective than just telling him you'll kill him if he gets it wrong?). Fear, unlike pain and despair, is an excellent motivator. And that's much less morally problematic, IMO.

Scavion wrote:
#2: I consider Paladins paragons of Good. They'll seek to do the most good full stop. Granted I allow Paladins to be Any Good, so LG attachments I don't agree with.

Paladins don't just try to do the most Good, but to be the most Good. That's why they fall for committing Evil acts, even those for the greater good, and why torture seems to me to be utterly inappropriate for them.

Scavion wrote:
Half the time, Torture is mandated as a lawful action in any event.

In the sense of being legal? Sure. In the sense of being permitted by a Paladin's code of honor? Never.

Coriat wrote:

Been doing some background reading on the subject due to playing in the Way of the Wicked AP right now. I think the conclusion I've reached so far is that torture works quite well as an information extraction tool as long as you aren't too hung up on truth.

For a LE witch who is able to disguise herself as an inquisitor of the LG god and who is interested in sowing dissension among the enemy, torture and false confessions are way useful.

Agreed entirely. But that's not what I'd call information extraction in any meaningful sense. More 'forcing people to say what you want them to' which I see as an entirely separate thing. So...I think our only disagreement is over terminology.

And getting confessions was what it was mostly used for historically in the real world.

Coriat wrote:
I do feel that torture lies at the bottom of the deep end of the alignment pool regardless of its effectiveness or lack thereof. The alignment rules talk about hurting and oppressing others. They don't say much about getting a pass if you do it efficiently.

Also agreed entirely.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I don't really like the notion that "lawful" = deontological and "chaotic" = "teleological" since the law itself is itself sometimes an "ends justify the means" entity. Take for example eminent domain laws, through which the government can seize your property (compensating you by an amount they decide) because they figure that what they plan to do with the space will benefit more people than you continuing to use that land for whatever you would use it for.

Right...but a Lawful person isn't necessarily bound by the law per se, but by a rigid code of conduct they don't deviate from. That's in the very definition of the alignment, and seems to suit a deontological world view pretty well.

That said, I've never really bought into the particular thing I linked as a perfect reflection of the way Alignment works, I was just making a point that you could do it that way and have it be objective.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I think whether we justify our actions through what they accomplish versus what important principles they exemplify/adhere to is a level deeper than "law/chaos."

That tends to be my perspective too, to some degree...though I do tend to err on the side of deontological for Lawful characters. I don't tend to do the teleological thing for Chaotic ones, though. That just makes less intuitive sense to me.


All things considered, I would say utilitarianism, with its focus on "If I have to take organs from one healthy person to give to three sick ones, that's justified", should be set as the Evil standpoint.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Scavion wrote:
#1: At all? I'm fairly certain there are numerous accounts of it's success. As a child, pain was a very convincing method of making me tell the truth.

Pretty much at all, yeah. You occasionally get a bit of information out of it, but it's mixed with so many lies that it's a nightmare to sort the wheat from the chaff, and a wide variety of more humane interrogation methods are also vastly more effective. The problem is, people will say literally anything you want them to under torture...but they'll pretty universally lie at least some of the time, and will absolutely tell you what you want to hear whether it's true or not.

In order to get good information out of someone you torture, you absolutely require an immediate and completely reliable way to check whether what they're saying is true, and one that doesn't cost much if they lied. Your parents and others usually have that when you're a kid...but in the situation where you want to torture someone? That's almost never the case.

To play devil's advocate, the subject possibly lying is going to be a problem in any form of interrogation. The usual argument for torture as an interrogation technique (beyond fear of torture as an effective threat) is that it's very hard to coming up with a clear, consistent lie is a lot harder when distracted by pain. The subject is also more likely to let things slip while under stress.

Granted, at that point the torturer is just using standard interrogation procedures, with torture as a means of putting their subject under stress/lowering their guard. There are arguably more effective and more humane ways of accomplishing the same thing.


Person 1: "Torture is evil."
Person 2: "But sometimes it works!"
Person 1: "Huh? What does that have to do with it? It's still evil."
Person 2: "But sometimes it works, so that makes it okay."

If you're Person 2, you will never understand Person 1.


And if you are Person 1, you won't stop loathing Person 2's viewpoint on torture. The problem is that that has become more common with s#@@ like 24.


One thing to consider is that neutral characters, and sometimes even good ones, will actively seek out creatures and even other humanoids to murder for the sake of money and experience. While this is something which would likely considered incredibly immoral by folks in the here and now, in most campaign settings it's just a normal thing for adventurers to do.

Oh the murdering thieves are in town, prices go up at the inn, the economy moves a little faster for a little bit, maybe a guard asks for their weapons at the gate.

So to use real world morality as a measure of what is necessarily good and evil in-game is usually not appropriate, people can't go around killing people for money these days and be seen as good. Oh wait, the military. Well shoot, my argument is thoroughly deflated.


So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions.

Well, we shall see.

Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair!


More seriously, AFAIK the whole point of the Inquisitor class was to approximate the Catholic inquisitors of the past, who's primary tool to root out heresy was torture in the name of the greater good. It's, like, their whole point. I'm honestly surprised they don't have torture based CLAs in the core rules.


Generally, you torture someone to make an example out of them to the others who aren't being tortured to death, whether they are in the cellblock with him or the citizens out in your collective who do not want to be taken away.

It is the reputation for torture and willingness to engage in it that creates the atmosphere which is conducive to interrogation.


beej67 wrote:

So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions.

Well, we shall see.

Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair!

Victim: oooh this is quite comfortable.

Inquisitor: Confess ... Confess ....Confess....
Biggles: I confess!!!
Inquisitor: Not You!!!!!!!

In Short: NOONE expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
KuntaSS wrote:

One thing to consider is that neutral characters, and sometimes even good ones, will actively seek out creatures and even other humanoids to murder for the sake of money and experience. While this is something which would likely considered incredibly immoral by folks in the here and now, in most campaign settings it's just a normal thing for adventurers to do.

If that's what they're doing, it's Evil behavior. Also remember that experience itself is a metagame concept, not an in world thing. It may be a slippery slope between taking on an authorized bounty and simply being murderous highwayman, but the difference should be there.


Chengar Qordath wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Scavion wrote:
#1: At all? I'm fairly certain there are numerous accounts of it's success. As a child, pain was a very convincing method of making me tell the truth.

Pretty much at all, yeah. You occasionally get a bit of information out of it, but it's mixed with so many lies that it's a nightmare to sort the wheat from the chaff, and a wide variety of more humane interrogation methods are also vastly more effective. The problem is, people will say literally anything you want them to under torture...but they'll pretty universally lie at least some of the time, and will absolutely tell you what you want to hear whether it's true or not.

In order to get good information out of someone you torture, you absolutely require an immediate and completely reliable way to check whether what they're saying is true, and one that doesn't cost much if they lied. Your parents and others usually have that when you're a kid...but in the situation where you want to torture someone? That's almost never the case.

To play devil's advocate, the subject possibly lying is going to be a problem in any form of interrogation. The usual argument for torture as an interrogation technique (beyond fear of torture as an effective threat) is that it's very hard to coming up with a clear, consistent lie is a lot harder when distracted by pain. The subject is also more likely to let things slip while under stress.

Granted, at that point the torturer is just using standard interrogation procedures, with torture as a means of putting their subject under stress/lowering their guard. There are arguably more effective and more humane ways of accomplishing the same thing.

It's not the tortured trying to deceive the torturer that's the problem. The unrelieablity of torture is that the tortured will say whatever they think the torturer wants them to say in order to stop being tortured.

The Exchange

Ali Soufan - who was basically the only Arabic-speaking interrogator the FBI had on 9/11 - wrote a book, The Black Banners, which provides a valuable viewpoint on torture from a professional whose business it was to gain reliable information from high-value suspects as quickly as possible. I advise everybody with an interest in the topic of this thread to get hold of it and read it. Really, who has a better-informed opinion than somebody like that?

(If nothing else, you'll get a good laugh out of the hilarious redactions that the CIA insisted had to be blacked out before they'd let this former FBI agent release the book ten years after the events it describes. Ever seen somebody black out the word "I"? It's pretty darn obvious...)


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

A big problem with torture is that it eventually drives the person being tortured to say whatever he thinks will persuade the torturer to stop totturing him. The folks who have argued that torture is effective for obtaining vital information have never shown a comparison of the resources saved by following true leads provided by torture victims with the resources wasted by following false leads.

The only way the torturer can be sure that his victim is telling him the truth is if he already knows the truth -- and if that is the case, then it is surely an evil act to torture a helpless person under your control just for the purpose of forcing him to admit to something you already know.

Liberty's Edge

Chengar Qordath wrote:

To play devil's advocate, the subject possibly lying is going to be a problem in any form of interrogation. The usual argument for torture as an interrogation technique (beyond fear of torture as an effective threat) is that it's very hard to coming up with a clear, consistent lie is a lot harder when distracted by pain. The subject is also more likely to let things slip while under stress.

Granted, at that point the torturer is just using standard interrogation procedures, with torture as a means of putting their subject under stress/lowering their guard. There are arguably more effective and more humane ways of accomplishing the same thing.

The issue, as others note, is that when people are tortured, they won't just intentionally lie to mess with you, but also say whatever they think you want to hear, whether true or not, just to get the torture to stop. The latter is not typical of other interrogation methods and results in a lot more untrue statements to wade through.

beej67 wrote:
More seriously, AFAIK the whole point of the Inquisitor class was to approximate the Catholic inquisitors of the past, who's primary tool to root out heresy was torture in the name of the greater good. It's, like, their whole point. I'm honestly surprised they don't have torture based CLAs in the core rules.

That's really not what the Inquisitor class was designed for at all. The name is somewhat based on that...but very little else. Catholic Inquisitors didn't get bonuses to hunting monsters, nor did they spend a lot of time in the wilderness tracking (both class abilities of an Inquisitor). And that doesn't even get into the magic Inquisitors have. They're both investigators, and both scary, and that's about as far as the similarities go.

Saying they should have Class abilities based on torture is like saying Barbarians should have abilities based on committing atrocities because many real barbaric tribes did that in war. Or that all Clerics must be Christian. Classes just aren't that closely based on real groups. And besides, it's not accurate to a class that can be any alignment (well, any non-Lawful for Barbarians) at all. Inquisitors do actually have some torture spells on their list...all with the Evil descriptor. So Evil Inquisitors, and only Evil ones, use torture. Which makes sense.

Liberty's Edge

KuntaSS wrote:
One thing to consider is that neutral characters, and sometimes even good ones, will actively seek out creatures and even other humanoids to murder for the sake of money and experience. While this is something which would likely considered incredibly immoral by folks in the here and now, in most campaign settings it's just a normal thing for adventurers to do.

If your PCs are doing this, they're Evil. Of course, 0 APs or published adventures actually involve this scenario. They sometimes involve you being hired to fight and kill humanoids who've already attacked innocent villagers, or get rid of gangs of bandits. Y'know, stuff that amounts to bringing in criminals or fighting in a war the other side started. And that's the closest they come to what you describe.

KuntaSS wrote:
Oh the murdering thieves are in town, prices go up at the inn, the economy moves a little faster for a little bit, maybe a guard asks for their weapons at the gate.

That's hardly universal. In RotRL, the PCs are hailed as heroes. Because they pretty much are.

KuntaSS wrote:
So to use real world morality as a measure of what is necessarily good and evil in-game is usually not appropriate, people can't go around killing people for money these days and be seen as good. Oh wait, the military. Well shoot, my argument is thoroughly deflated.

Sniping at the military is pretty uncool, man. And describing being in a nation's military as 'killing people for money' is even more inaccurate in real life than your first paragraph is about adventurers in most games.


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To the people still believing in the efficacy of torture, I'd suggest reading this study on the matter. The conclusions basically state that it provides so much false information mixed in with the real information, because the victim only wants it to stop and tells the torturer what they want to hear, that it is essentially useless (stating "The goal was to appease the torturer, not to reveal the truth. And, because the interrogators were not omniscient, they could not discern which bits of information were true and which were false.") when compared to other interrogation techniques. In a later section, it also details the long-term psychological effects torture has on both the victim and the perpetrator.

There is no defense for torture as a tool of Good. It does not provide consistently accurate information to save people, it is a horrifying thing in the moment, and it leaves terrible and permanent psychological damage on both participants.


Well, to play devil's advocate (yeah, literally! :p ), and to try to turn the topic back to make believe torture instead of real life torture, discern lies exists in Pathfinder, as something that pretty much all inquisitors of sufficient level have automatic access to even when they may not have other appropriate information-gathering magic. Discern lies is not foolproof, but it is way better than anything real.

I think that LE (in particular) in Pathfinder should have some powerful cases to make. LE should be the most ideologically compelling and rationalized form of evil. If torture (in Pathfinder) can be used effectively (with proper precautions, of course, and only against the wrong sort of people, naturally) to produce results, that's one more weapon in the ideological arsenal of Hell.

I like when LE has compelling ideas. It makes it more seductive and dangerous. Which it should be in order to fulfil the flavor of deities like Asmodeus.

So, I don't really have a problem with evil inquisitors, and particularly LE ones, making frequent, and impressively effective, use of torture in games that I play in. There's no reason at all that being effective in fantasy should make torture Good in fantasy. Hell is ruthlessly effective.

Liberty's Edge

@Coriat:

Once you're using Discern Lies...torture becomes pretty superfluous. Especially with Detect Thoughts available and similar things. You can do a dozen different things that work pretty well if you have a foolproof way to know whether your target is lying.

And actually...given that Inquisitors only get X rounds a day of Discern Lies automatically, it's still resource intensive to use torture rather than another interrogation tactic, just on a vastly compressed time scale. Someone using torture and Discern Lies will be more effective than someone without Discern Lies...but might well be less effective than someone using other interrogation tactics and Discern Lies.

Hell uses torture the way a lot of real world regimes have used it; to break people's wills and identities down and force them into being and doing what is required. As a very specific form of brainwashing, basically, ala 1984. And that use of torture is really pretty efficient and effective for what it does.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I just think "good cop/bad cop" and "tie a guy to a chair and leave him somewhere for a while" are things that a neutral character should be able to get away with.

I mean, I've had good parties abduct people and leave them locked in rooms, or tied to furniture for periods of time to prevent them from malfeasance because it was a humane alternative to "killing them."

Imprisonment depends on length and condition. If someone bound to a chair has to be afraid that you just left him there and no one will ever find him, or he's forced to soil himself because he can't go to the toilet you have crossed the line. However, you should remember that you usually don't switch alignment for a single act. Neutral characters can get away with the occasional evil act, if it stays occasional and they also do good deeds.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:

To play devil's advocate, the subject possibly lying is going to be a problem in any form of interrogation. The usual argument for torture as an interrogation technique (beyond fear of torture as an effective threat) is that it's very hard to coming up with a clear, consistent lie is a lot harder when distracted by pain. The subject is also more likely to let things slip while under stress.

Granted, at that point the torturer is just using standard interrogation procedures, with torture as a means of putting their subject under stress/lowering their guard. There are arguably more effective and more humane ways of accomplishing the same thing.

The issue, as others note, is that when people are tortured, they won't just intentionally lie to mess with you, but also say whatever they think you want to hear, whether true or not, just to get the torture to stop. The latter is not typical of other interrogation methods and results in a lot more untrue statements to wade through.

Yeah, I would just point out that any interrogator who knows their business is going to have some idea of how to deal with lies by ferreting out inconsistencies in the story and such. That's true whether it's lying to mess with the investigators, or lying because they're saying what they think the torturer wants to hear. Knowing subjects might lie, and how to deal with it, is a basic part of learning how to perform interrogation.

Granted, a basic part of modern interrogation training is also that there are more humane and effective ways to make someone talk than torture, so...


toxicpie wrote:

Thanks everyone, really interesting discussion and some great thoughts. I like the point about the spells making torture unnecessary.

The deities aren't the Golarion gods, instead they are the Ancient Greek gods. He's an inquisitor of Hera, and I haven't decided if she's LG or LN. Are there any gods of marriage, childbirth, women etc. like her in Golarion?

You could download a copy of D&D 3 Deities and Demigods. It has the Greek pantheon in it. Hera is N in that book.

http://www.marph.org/D&D/D&D%203.5%20-%20Deities%20&%20Demigods .pdf


DrDew wrote:
toxicpie wrote:

Thanks everyone, really interesting discussion and some great thoughts. I like the point about the spells making torture unnecessary.

The deities aren't the Golarion gods, instead they are the Ancient Greek gods. He's an inquisitor of Hera, and I haven't decided if she's LG or LN. Are there any gods of marriage, childbirth, women etc. like her in Golarion?

You could download a copy of D&D 3 Deities and Demigods. It has the Greek pantheon in it. Hera is N in that book.

http://www.marph.org/D&D/D&D%203.5%20-%20Deities%20&%20Demigods .pdf

The alignments given in deities and demigods really aren't indicative of the source material (they put Zeus as good and Hades as NE, WTH?)


Deadmanwalking wrote:

@Coriat:

Once you're using Discern Lies...torture becomes pretty superfluous. Especially with Detect Thoughts available and similar things. You can do a dozen different things that work pretty well if you have a foolproof way to know whether your target is lying.

Are you going to accept "pretty well" when lives - or, against some threats, even innocent souls - are on the line? Deadmanwalking, we've all already agreed that torture can sometimes make a subject say anything it can think of, true or false, to stop the pain.

And now our interrogators can magically sort the true from the false.

You can put those pieces together yourself.

I don't claim that enhanced measures will be necessary in every situation. As you say, sometimes other routes will be best. If so - use them! We must all use our judgment, as best we may. Sometimes - rarely, as you can expect and hope - torture will be a distasteful but necessary measure for interrogators to be successful in their tasks, and we all know how important those tasks are.

So when your judgment tells that none of your other options are the surest route to success... well, Inquisitor, I trust you will not let your comrades down.


[/devil hat]

I can definitely imagine fantasy situations where torturing someone for info is the most effective (though certainly not the only available) course of action.

Risking failure rather than compromising your ideals sounds like a hard choice to make.


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Coriat wrote:

[/devil hat]

I can definitely imagine fantasy situations where torturing someone for info is the most effective (though certainly not the only available) course of action.

Risking failure rather than compromising your ideals sounds like a hard choice to make.

Let's ignore the morality for a moment and talk pure game mechanics. Torture is at best going to get you what, a +2-5 circumstance bonus on Intimidation or Diplomacy to make someone talk? Then the victim gets a shot at doing an opposed Bluff versus Sense Motive to give false information. Also the victim should get a Sense Motive check to see if you're just going to kill them anyways. I think we can all at least agree that flat out killing someone because they refused to answer or gave you false information is an evil act.

If a good party can't come up with a way other than torture to solve a dilemma then I really feel sorry for them. Especially in consideration to all the truth finding steroids and spells just an Inquisitor has access to. The only reason for an Inquisitor to physically/mentally/spiritally torture someone is to RP a torturer.

Liberty's Edge

If you've got Discern Lies, you can probably manage Charm Monster. Which has the same Save DC and works a lot better than torture at getting them talking, since you're friends now. They might still lie...but then you can act disappointed in your friend for lying to you (and make opposed Charisma checks).

Or, if you have time, just get them to Helpful with Diplomacy. Which will take all of two days by any truly skilled interrogator. Or can be made to act that way short-term with Intimidate even more easily and without the time.

And then of course, there's anyone with a good enough Save that they pretty universally save vs. Discern Lies. Torture's useless on them, too.

In short...even with magical lie detection torture's a pretty sub-par interrogation tool compared to the other ones available. It's a bit more effective, but still not a very good tactic unless you have Discern Lies and no other interrogation tools whatsoever (Intimidation generally works a lot better than torture, for example).

EDIT:

Also, I agree with everything Suma3a said except this:

Suma3da wrote:
I think we can all at least agree that flat out killing someone because they refused to answer or gave you false information is an evil act.

Actually...if you're going to execute someone for a crime and promise them clemency if they provide useful testimony...and then they don't provide useful testimony, executing them seems entirely consistent with a Good alignment to me.

That's only if you were going to execute them barring said testimony, of course. Killing people just because they wouldn't talk is clearly Evil.

Or to put it another way: Letting someone you were going to execute for legitimate crimes live only if they provide information seems legitimate as a Good act.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Also, I agree with everything Suma3a said except this:

Suma3da wrote:
I think we can all at least agree that flat out killing someone because they refused to answer or gave you false information is an evil act.

Actually...if you're going to execute someone for a crime and promise them clemency if they provide useful testimony...and then they don't provide useful testimony, executing them seems entirely consistent with a Good alignment to me.

That's only if you were going to execute them barring said testimony, of course. Killing people just because they wouldn't talk is clearly Evil.

Or to put it another way: Letting someone you were going to execute for legitimate crimes live only if they provide information seems legitimate as a Good act.

Okay, yes if the target is already in a Death's Row type situation, failing to provide useful information clearly goes against any deals made.

I was thinking more along the lines of, the party has Bob the Henchman tied up and are trying to milk the location of the BBEG out of him.

Liberty's Edge

First of all I'm very disturbed by all the people justifying torture, and fear for my nation :(

Besides that, the Inquisitor class seems to give a lot of options for good aligned characters that doesn't include torture. Intimidation being key. A good aligned inquisitor can infiltrate the enemy, detect who is evil, detect lies that the individual is telling, and has a healthy bonus to their intimidate checks. The class pulls off a Batman better than Batman because Inquisitors have magical means to back up the fear they cause. There is no excuse for a good aligned inquisitor to go around torturing people on a normal basis. If you want your game to have a more depressing darker tone, that's your world, but I'd suggest that the normal Pathfinder/D&D alignments wouldn't mean much in such a setting.

I can see a good aligned character doing something extreme, like torture or beating a bad guy to an inch of his life due to very emotional and extreme circumstances, making for a very memorable moment in a game. It would be a dark moment for a good aligned character edging them a little towards anti hero, and possibly an act that could end a paladin's career. Because inquisitors do get powers from their gods and are alignment restricted, I imagine they would have to be careful about this.

Then again Pathfinder tends to surprise me with neutral alignments where I see evil, and I believe in the Korvosa book, torture was common punishment in the neutral city. Those who think players place too much of the modern world into the fantasy setting may want to take note of that.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Sniping at the military is pretty uncool, man. And describing being in a nation's military as 'killing people for money' is even more inaccurate in real life than your first paragraph is about adventurers in most games.

Ok that's fair, I only threw that in last minute because I realized it would probably make an effective counter-argument, you can call it 'sniping at the military' if you want, but the fact is some people in it are in it for the money, they take it as a job where they may occasionally have to kill other people. That does not make them evil or dicks, or make the military an amalgamation of hypocrites and serial murderers, it just means sometimes killing is necessary and important, such that it can become a profession that is not always frowned upon, much like adventuring in Dnd/Pathfinder, which is precisely why my pro-torture in PF arguement deflated itself before I finished posting it.

I'm not saying the PC's are going about killing anything for money either, well not the good/neutral/willsurvive-3-adventures-in-a-reasonable-setting-where-laws-ar e-enforced type, but most characters build themselves to be better killing machines, or better assistant kill-team members, because they actively seek and expect violence, the mechanics of the game reward killing, and even if the character isn't motivated by 'experience' the players are usually very motivated by experience. Almost all PC's are basically mercenaries, and they are generally not opposed to killing or seriously harming something else, even slowly burning it to death with alchemist fire if need be, generally without a trial, to get their payday, experience, and maybe walk back into town with a little bit of swagger. There are of course some PC's who wouldn't hurt a fly, or only do nonlethal damage, or put enemies to sleep, tie them up, then haul them into town for a trial, but these are usually the exception, not the norm.


Oh and the point I was going to make is that characters kill bad guys without trials, there is no real world equivalent, so their are different game morals then real life morals, and depending on the setting, a DM could probably reasonably rule torture was chill with some neutral or even good gods, however in real life the military does kill bad guys without giving them a trial first (which would probably be wildly impractical in many situations), but if they torture people it is still seen as wrong. There is a real world precedent of killing bad guys being seen as okay while torturing them is wrong, so neither are real world morals necessarily incompatible with PF morals, but also there is a real world precedent of killing a person being seen in a higher light then torturing them. How loosely torture is defined though, I would think killing them would constitute torture unless it could be performed painlessly, but I've digressed enough already.

Liberty's Edge

Seadin wrote:
First of all I'm very disturbed by all the people justifying torture, and fear for my nation :(

I feel that way, too, at least sometimes.

Seadin wrote:
Then again Pathfinder tends to surprise me with neutral alignments where I see evil, and I believe in the Korvosa book, torture was common punishment in the neutral city. Those who think players place too much of the modern world into the fantasy setting may want to take note of that.

Neutral societies are sorta defined by being a mix of Good and Evil stuff. That'd be some of the Evil stuff in Korvosa...and is pretty much only for treason, murder, and rape, anyway. I'm not sure I'd call that common...

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