Inquisitors and torture


Advice

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Liberty's Edge

PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm actually currently rolling up an Inquisitor (a spellbreaker, naturally) who believes that all spells of the Enchantment school (i.e. anything that takes people's will away) to be unforgivable, but that character believes that "threats" and "punching them until they do what you want" to be acceptable means of coercing people to do what you want (in cases when the wholly mundane charm offensive will not suffice.)

Can this character be LN, or does he have to be LE? If he's LE, wouldn't the whole "Enchantment spells are evil" thing be hard to justify from the perspective of an evil character?

That seems hard to justify as not Evil. Not just because of the beatings, but because a lot of non-Evil things use enchantments, and they'd presumably hunt such things down. Personally, I'd justify it the way The Operative does in Serenity...acknowledging that he's a horrible monster, but he's one working towards a better world that has no place for things like him in it.


You posited Geas as a "perfect" method.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Geas is a perfect way, for example, and even Charm Person is better than the torture spells.

A spell that quite clearly robs the victim of their free will.

But whatever. Justify your mind control however you like.

Liberty's Edge

Scavion wrote:

You posited Geas as a "perfect" method.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Geas is a perfect way, for example, and even Charm Person is better than the torture spells.
A spell that quite clearly robs the victim of their free will.

Actually...no more than tying someone or otherwise imprisoning them up does. Geas is a behavioral control spell, it controls what you do, not what you think or feel or want.

A Geas certainly can be unpleasant or traumatic in a variety of ways, but, for example "Answer all questions I ask you truthfully and completely." isn't especially unpleasant or traumatic. You're forced to talk, sure, but it's less bad than being imprisoned, never mind tortured or anything like that.

Scavion wrote:
But whatever. Justify your mind control however you like.

I'm not justifying anything. Mind Control is horribly immoral, even criminal, if used unprovoked...but so's locking someone up, and that's acceptable to do to criminals caught in the commission of a crime, or other people you might have good reason to seriously interrogate.


After spending some time thinking on it, realized I hadn't clarified a few things. Naturally, like I thought, I've been painted as a rather horrible person. So, I'll just drop a few notes to clarify my stance and be on my way. Since pretty much the entirety of my rant was lost in translation somewhere.

Shows what you get when you let a hot button topic push your button after spending the day at some dumb function you never wanted to go to, but went anyway to help out a friend, and get people beating you over the head with their soap boxes all day. Bit of advice? Never... Ever read a hot button topic when you're already in a bad mood. On this regard, I formally issue in apology for having so few straws to snap on my first entry to the thread. Had I taken a breather before hand, it'd have been much more clear and coherent.

1) I have never said torture was not evil, reprehensible, and the like. It is, and I personally believe that anyone who inflicts such things should have likewise done to them. And, personally, I'm rather insulted. I'm an ass, but if anything I'd wish death on a foe over torture (with some exceptions, but people like Hitler and company are pretty much already dead).

2) The point of my post amounts to little more than attempting to get people to agree to disagree, and leave it at that. I do not believe this topic was meant to become a political forum on the moral and ethical ramifications of torture in our society.

3) In the end, in game, it comes down to what is considered moral in the game's world, not ours. That is up for the GM to decide. Something that people seem to have forgotten.

4) Torture was considered perfectly fine with the morals of our Olde World. Far as I know, it was prevalent even up through the Renaissance. Religion has used torture as a means to convert people for millennia (I'm looking at you, Inquisition). While now-a-days we believe God has an issue with it, back then, it was a god-given order. (Side note: personally, I've never believed in religion. Faith and spirituality, yes, but organized religion, there is far too much room for abuse). I direct thee to... The Old Testament! Vengeful old man sitting in the clouds flooding the world and burning cities to the ground and turning people to salt and committing torture and murder upon a entire nation in the form of plagues.

5) Looking at it from this point of view (and taking the rest of history into account), we realize morals and ethics change. Maybe not much over a small span of time, but they do. I could get really into it on this, but I'm going to trust people are intelligent enough to know what I'm talking about.

6) Looking at it that way, it's not hard to conceptualize that there may be a time again when we humans consider it acceptable. It is not that hard to consider a world in which the moral compass dictates such extreme measures are necessary in extreme situations. It is primarily this in what I am referring too when I state "closed-off personality" (or however I put it). If the rules of the world say it is so, then for that world, it is so, even if we do not agree with it personally. Much like we Americans try to force the world into our own worldviews (by this, I mean try to fit what we see, not force the world to do), there are many things elsewhere in the world that simply do not agree with us. Such is one particular reason Americans were generally not well-liked overseas.

I'm fairly sure I forgot some things, but there's the general gist of it. You may not like it, I may not like it, but there may be worlds somewhere that, like history, torture was not considered inherently evil. It would be considered a tool, like prisons, the death penalty, or weapons of war. Therefore, it is, yet again, up to the table, and the DM, to determine such things for the world they find themselves playing it. If someone doesn't like it, they can simply exercise the REAL rule 0. If you don't like it, you don't have to play at that table. If the table doesn't like it, the GM should switch the tone of the game.

All I ask, is that you don't try to force your own real world views on someone else's fictional game, even if it's in the form of a well-thought out dissertation on the subject. Live, and for the love of all under the sun, let live.... Unless they're mass murdering $#!7 heads, then they just need to be outright slaughtered.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Actually, personally I believe that even mass-murdering scum should get a trial. Because we are better than them. Locking them away for the rest of their lives always has struck me as a much better punishment than simply executing them, too.

And appealing to the authority of "ye olde times" for justifying torture as an acceptable tool fails already on the fact that Golarion is not even near what medieval society was like, modern western morals are adopted almost wholesale into the setting and torture is explicitly called out as being evil.

Thirdly, post-modern relativism sucks.

Liberty's Edge

@Artemis Moonstar:

I'm legitimately sorry you had a bad day and I think your advice is well taken. I know I've written one or two things I seriously regret while upset about another matter entirely.

Let's respond to your points in order.

1. I don't (and never seriously did) think that you're advocating torturing people. Nor do I think most people in this thread are doing so. That's not precisely the issue at hand. The issue is with how words and ideas in media shape people's opinions about things...and RPGs are a form of media.

2. Agreeing to disagree is usually awesome. But there are some things I don't think that it's okay to do on. Acting like torture is okay, even if just by defining it as such in a game, is not an attitude I'm comfortable allowing to stand unopposed.

3. I haven't forgotten it at all. I understand that if the GM says "In my world, torture is morally fine." then in his world it's morally fine. I regard this statement as pretty close to the statement "In my world, rape is morally fine." That's not a message I think GMs should be sending, it's not a sentiment I approve of, and I have no desire to play in a world operating by those moral principles. Also, I think it often (though by no means always) says something a bit ugly about the GM in question.

4. Well, first, the fact that other cultures thought torture was fine is only relevant if you want our current culture to evolve into one like theirs (which neither I nor you want, I don't think).

Secondly, torture wasn't used for religious conversion per se (the Inquisition actually only had domain over Christians...it was to prevent heresy and enforce doctrine, not convert people), though it was often used to prevent converts from relapsing (especially the Spanish Inquisition). Also, secular courts used it more in that era than religious ones did. You see, in order to be convicted a confession was required by law...and torture is an excellent way to get those. Often the only way if you're talking hanging offenses here.

Thirdly, in the Old Testament, God's actions are not meant to be a role model. It's very much a 'Do as I say, not as I do.' book, with the excuse that God is a profoundly different order of being from humans and thus operates by different rules. I've always felt that was a seriously poor rationalization, but that's the logic.

5. Morals and ethics absolutely change. And we, human beings, are the architects of that change. The things we say are okay, the things we don't punish people for, the things we tell stories about heroes doing...those are the things that become morally acceptable. Torture is not something I want to see become any more acceptable than it already is. Hence my arguing this case so strongly here (and everywhere else I run into it).

6. There can certainly be worlds and times when torture is considered acceptable. But we're playing Pathfinder, which is rather clearly defined as a world with an objective morality. And portraying torture as objectively not Evil in such a world is highly problematic due to the message it sends and other reasons in that vein and listed above.

American morality certainly isn't shared by the rest of the world, and imposing it by force certainly is a problem (not least because doing so, much like torture, doesn't work), and has a host of unfortunate moral problems, to boot...but some moral systems are superior to others by any reasonable metric.

A moral system that oppresses large numbers of people (women, or people of a particular race or sexual orientation, for example) and denies their basic rights as human beings is a worse moral system by any reasonable or rational analysis than an otherwise identical moral system that doesn't do that. The same is true of moral codes that endorse torture as opposed to one's that vilify it. The ones that vilify it are pretty clearly just better moral codes to follow for everyone involved.

And finally, to reiterate, while 'live and let live' is generally great, when people are endorsing ideas that should not be tolerated...tolerating said ideas is the wrong choice to make.


toxicpie wrote:

One of players, who will be playing an inquisitor hunting down arcane magicians, and he was asking if inquisitors are allowed to torture their enemies for information to serve the greater good. After reading various flavour descriptions I ruled he can, but it had to be considered a very grim necessity, so he would realistically want to cut down on the savagery of the process. I also said he should pray after each time physical pain becomes necessary, not a lengthy atonement spell, just penance he couldn't find a better way.

Any actual rules on this that Paizo has released for inquisitors, or what have others ruled in their games?

As others have said, Torture is considered Evil in Golarion. Inquisitors have more leeway in bending the rules... but they are still have THIS one.

Apg wrote:
An inquisitor’s alignment must be within one step of her deity’s, along either the law/chaos axis or the good/evil axis.

Some gods wouldn't mind it, some gods would be against it. They may be able to do it a few times in the most necessary cases... but if their alignment shifts, they get punished.

There is a different between 'not bound by a paladin's code', and Able to do whatever they want...

Hera? I remember NO stories that ever painted her as 'good' deity. I'd figure her in the neutral range and probably be ok given a proper reason...


Deadmanwalking wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm actually currently rolling up an Inquisitor (a spellbreaker, naturally) who believes that all spells of the Enchantment school (i.e. anything that takes people's will away) to be unforgivable, but that character believes that "threats" and "punching them until they do what you want" to be acceptable means of coercing people to do what you want (in cases when the wholly mundane charm offensive will not suffice.)

Can this character be LN, or does he have to be LE? If he's LE, wouldn't the whole "Enchantment spells are evil" thing be hard to justify from the perspective of an evil character?

That seems hard to justify as not Evil. Not just because of the beatings, but because a lot of non-Evil things use enchantments, and they'd presumably hunt such things down. Personally, I'd justify it the way The Operative does in Serenity...acknowledging that he's a horrible monster, but he's one working towards a better world that has no place for things like him in it.

Why would a character who believes that mind-affecting spells are evil, themselves be evil? I'm not sure I follow what you're saying. Just because you might hunt someone down for casting Charm Person (which from the perspective of the character is an Evil Act), doesn't mean you have to commit evil acts against them. Just like an Inquisitor who hunts someone down for theft doesn't need to perpetrate evil acts against someone.

Liberty's Edge

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Why would a character who believes that mind-affecting spells are evil, themselves be evil? I'm not sure I follow what you're saying.

I'm saying it's possible for someone to know that what they do to stop and destroy Evil is, itself, wrong. And to justify to themselves that it's necessary for the greater good. So...someone with that attitude would say "Sure, I show up as Evil. I show up that way because I do bad things so that people like you can sleep quietly in your beds. I deserve no place in the society I protect." Or something similar.

A similar attitude is also possible for non-Evil people, mind you. I'm just saying that it's an attitude that lets you know you're Evil but still fight Evil because it's Evil.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Just because you might hunt someone down for casting Charm Person (which from the perspective of the character is an Evil Act), doesn't mean you have to commit evil acts against them. Just like an Inquisitor who hunts someone down for theft doesn't need to perpetrate evil acts against someone.

Hunting people down for committing crimes is indeed not Evil. However, hunting people down for possessing a capability is Evil, and there are a fair selection of things that just inherently have Enchantment effects.

Now, if you only hunt people or creatures down for using such abilities, that's slightly different...but if you do it regardless of context, you're still hunting people down for doing the equivalent of shooting in self defense...which is possible for someone who's merely very LN, but tending away from Good. Toss in the use of beatings/torture and you're likely going LE.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Why would a character who believes that mind-affecting spells are evil, themselves be evil? I'm not sure I follow what you're saying.
I'm saying it's possible for someone to know that what they do to stop and destroy Evil is, itself, wrong. And to justify to themselves that it's necessary for the greater good. So...someone with that attitude would say "Sure, I show up as Evil. I show up that way because I do bad things so that people like you can sleep quietly in your beds. I deserve no place in the society I protect." Or something similar.

DMW, you missed the obvious, and best possible line for this. I'm truly disappointed in you ;P

Col. Nathan R. Jessup wrote:
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.


To me (in game) torture is an extreme tool, but that it is always and in every situation an unjustifiable evil act is not my opinion.

I am currently playing in a low magic, low lvl setting. Much focused on the same "state of society" as the good old grim medieval ages.

I am playing an Inquisitor and currently we have take into custody a person that every indication shows that he has done some pretty bad deeds, he is evil and does not hide it, but we have no ironhard proof.

In my view as a inquisitor i have tools to find the truth. And torture is one of them.

"They answer to their deity and their own sense of justice alone, and are willing to take extreme measures to meet their goals."

As i view it the inquisior uses this extreme measure to ensure that his "judgment" of the poor target is rightfully so. If it is revealed that it was wrong, and he tortured out a wrongfully confecion from the target than the inquisitor is in for some real problems.

Liberty's Edge

The issue with that, to sum up some of my previous points, is that torture does not, in fact, work at all well as an information extraction tool.


Hmm.. true enough. But as the good old inquisitors belived. In the fires of the gods the truth shall come.

If it is a conviction one need and not information, than torture under the guidance of your god can bring you what you need.


Theodor Snuddletusk wrote:

To me (in game) torture is an extreme tool, but that it is always and in every situation an unjustifiable evil act is not my opinion.

Then grab the red hot pinchers...

Honestly, the only question worth asking is 'Is Torture Evil?' If the DM says no... then you're pretty much allowed to do whatever you want. Heck, you can have the paladins torture if you want...

If the god doesn't care... and the DM doesn't care... then the per the world rules, the inquisitor probably won't care.

The inquisitor's have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to methods... but they DO still answer to their god. They still per RAW have to remain within 1 step of their god's alignment.

If Torturing people won't shift your alignment... then your fine.

In our games, it certainly would... a True neutral god you may get away with it... and evil god would encourage it... but Good god wouldn't put up with that kind of behavior for long.


True true.

But i will argue that to an inquisitor torture is an evil act if it does not bring a threat into justice (if that is his goal). To torture a person just for the sadistic glee is pure evil, but to torture a confecion out of a suspect a nececary evil.

I dislike the face that raw should dictate it. And i am glad my dm views it the same way.

But if than the suspect is proven to be innocent the inquisitor has a major problem.

My inquisitor is lawfull good, follows a doctrine of protecting the weak. And now all evidence point at an evil heartless noble that buy up the land and tried to create a famin to lower prices. The evidence is not rock solid, but he thinks he can find the truth with some physical motivation.


So if you use torture to check your hunches when you think you have the guilty party, but you aren't rock solid sure yet - and you also feel that you should be in big trouble if you ever turn out to have tortured an innocent person - then what's your plan for when your hunch actually is wrong?

(or when you have the right guy, but it turns out that he was formerly a decent guy who got possessed by a demon, or mind controlled, or infected with lycanthropy... or whatever).

Liberty's Edge

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I have nothing new to say on this subject.

I profoundly disagree with the philosophy behind torture being anything but evil, and for more details, people should just read, well, anything I've written in this entire thread.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Theodor Snuddletusk wrote:

True true.

But i will argue that to an inquisitor torture is an evil act if it does not bring a threat into justice (if that is his goal). To torture a person just for the sadistic glee is pure evil, but to torture a confecion out of a suspect a nececary evil.

I dislike the face that raw should dictate it. And i am glad my dm views it the same way.

But if than the suspect is proven to be innocent the inquisitor has a major problem.

My inquisitor is lawfull good, follows a doctrine of protecting the weak. And now all evidence point at an evil heartless noble that buy up the land and tried to create a famin to lower prices. The evidence is not rock solid, but he thinks he can find the truth with some physical motivation.

I think this is the wrong sort of scenario to justify torture. It's hardly time sensitive, and there exist less extreme measures than torture that would solve the issue at hand.

I do think somethings people consider torture (withholding/depriving food, solitary confinement, imprisonment, etc) are not, just like there are somethings that are considered rape, murder or slavery that aren't. These 'neutral' tortures can probably be safely used as interrogation techniques by Good aligned hard-liners.

The things like tearing out fingernails? Dismemberment? Smashing balls with hammers? That's evil. Evil tortures should be used with extreme caution even by Neutral aligned hard-liners, lest they fall to evil on that well paved road.

Evil aligned people don't feel bad about doing evil aligned things. Neutral aligned people feel bad or at least conflicted about doing evil aligned things. Good aligned people don't intentionally do evil aligned things except in extreme situations, after which they should feel terrible about them, and probably seek atonement. And a Good aligned person should never find the evil aligned action to be a method of preference, but of last resort.


Also be careful about worshipers of Calistria - this one time at band camp we let an inquisitor of Calistria interrogate this guy and she had a four hour torture session in which she forgot to ask any questions.


Be Spanish…

NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!!


Renegadeshepherd wrote:
That is a legit question btw. If your a good aligned character how do get info?

That's a good question. Presuming that torture and effects that rob a character of free will, even to a modest degree, are abhorrent to you or your game, how does one get information they need?

Fortunately, there's a lot of paths open. Unfortunately, they take more time and effort by comparison.

Deception is one trick you commonly see police pull against their targets. They use skilled cons to bluff the opponent into thinking that their silence is no longer required for one reason or another. You could imply that their boss is already trying to kill them, so there is no reason to hold their silence. You could make bargains you have no intention of keeping. You could pretend to have the information already -- or you could pretend to be so incompetent that they stop worrying about what they might let slip.

Of course, that assumes nobody in your game has moral quandaries with deception. But you are not without other options. No man walks through the world unnoticed. An assassin, mercenary, or thief is going to leave a trail that intelligent and perceptive characters can track. By simply being in possession of the prisoner, you can observe a wealth of clues that can start you down the long road of backtracing his steps to where the real villain lies.

But suppose this baddie came in through a magical, untraceable portal? What can you do then? Well, assuming that untraceable conjurations are powerful magic, then you already know something important about the villain you're looking for -- and a list of "wizards with powerful magic" usually is not a long one. Knowing about the victim or target of the prisoner makes it even shorter. And most powerful spellcasters get to be as old as they do by paying some attention to the local competition; even if your enemy is a long-forgotten demon or undead lord, long-buried, a higher-level arcane spellcaster is still more likely to know some lore about this nemesis than most, even if you have to haggle to get it.

All this pondering kind of makes me want to play an investigator who is a moral philosopher, who has to use his intelligence to walk the rough path of good while surrounded by temptations to do evil!


Sissyl wrote:
Oh, I should clarify: when I wrote "if the 'matters' you have experience in is torture", I did not mean being subjected to torture, but torturing. There is no risk for confusion, though. Someone actually subjected to torture would never claim it was no big deal. Oddly enough, huh?

Members of the US special forces used to endure what many would consider torture during their training.Ask any member of the armed forces who attended the Escape and evasion school in Panama during the 80's what their training was like. It might shock some here.

I was a Medic and just got to observe and treat the injuries ,but I still have my memories


I think Kain Darkwind is pretty close to the mark on this one. Is playing the Chili Peppers nonstop as a form of sleep deprivation as evil (or at all evil) as physical beating? I think designating all methods of "torture" as evil is too simplistic unless the definition of what is torture is narrowed.

If sleep deprivation makes a terrorist unwittingly confess a plot element of a upcoming attack, do you believe that is evil? I, for one, do not.

In that manner, certain tactics should be allowed an Inquisitor, but like everyone else has said, the GM ultiamtely is going to decide what crosses the line.

Liberty's Edge

Sleep deprivation is a whole lot worse than you're implying it is, or at least can be. You can die from lack of sleep, for god's sake. Or be driven permanently insane. In fact, both things are inevitable (sequentially, first insanity, then death) if you keep people awake long enough.

Now, waking people up in the middle of the night or keeping them awake for a day or two? Sure, that's probably fine, as interrogation tactics go, but you do it long enough it definitely crosses the line, and when people talk about 'sleep deprivation' they're usually talking about way more than a couple of days (though they do stop short of insanity or death, generally speaking).

Other than that, I feel like your point is relatively reasonable, but I just felt like noting that.


mmsbhs wrote:

If sleep deprivation makes a terrorist unwittingly confess a plot element of a upcoming attack, do you believe that is evil? I, for one, do not.

If you used sleep deprivation to make a criminal confess to shoplifting, is it evil?


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Sleep deprivation is a whole lot worse than you're implying it is, or at least can be. You can die from lack of sleep, for god's sake. Or be driven permanently insane. In fact, both things are inevitable (sequentially, first insanity, then death) if you keep people awake long enough.

Solzhenitsyn on sleep deprivation:

Quote:
Indeed, the actual boundaries of human equilibrium are very narrow, and it is not really necessary to use a rack or hot coals to drive the average human being out of his mind.

And a bit more in depth, spoilered:

Spoiler:
21. Sleeplessness, which they quite failed to appreciate in medieval times. They did not understand how narrow are the limits within which a human being can preserve his personality intact. Sleeplessness (yes, combined with standing, thirst, bright light, terror,and the unknown—what other tortures are needed!?) befogs the reason, undermines the will, and the human being ceases to be himself, to be his own "I." (As in Chekhov's "I Want to Sleep," but there it was much easier, for there the girl could lie down and slip into lapses of consciousness, which even in just a minute would revive and refresh the brain.) A person deprived of sleep acts half-unconsciously or altogether unconsciously,so that his testimony cannot be held against him.


Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
mmsbhs wrote:

If sleep deprivation makes a terrorist unwittingly confess a plot element of a upcoming attack, do you believe that is evil? I, for one, do not.

If you used sleep deprivation to make a criminal confess to shoplifting, is it evil?

If you use sleep deprivation to make a person confess to shoplifting, he's going to do that whether or not he actually did the deed. If you do it intensively enough, you can even make him believe he did it. It still doesn't answer the question of whether or not he did it.

So yes, in the real world, of course it's evil.


Theodor Snuddletusk wrote:

True true.

But i will argue that to an inquisitor torture is an evil act if it does not bring a threat into justice (if that is his goal). To torture a person just for the sadistic glee is pure evil, but to torture a confecion out of a suspect a nececary evil.

I dislike the face that raw should dictate it. And i am glad my dm views it the same way.

But if than the suspect is proven to be innocent the inquisitor has a major problem.

My inquisitor is lawfull good, follows a doctrine of protecting the weak. And now all evidence point at an evil heartless noble that buy up the land and tried to create a famin to lower prices. The evidence is not rock solid, but he thinks he can find the truth with some physical motivation.

Thanks for showing exactly what is so wrong with torture. You want to use it to get confessions when you can't prove anything. Welcome to the witch hunts. You can make anyone say anything through torture. You can make anyone sign a confession that they are an archdevil in human disguise if you torture them long enough. Torturing for confessions is the exact opposite of a "necessary evil". Your inquisitor is lawful evil. Period.

Paizo Glitterati Robot

Removed an unhelpful post and the responses to it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Pupsocket wrote:
Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
mmsbhs wrote:

If sleep deprivation makes a terrorist unwittingly confess a plot element of a upcoming attack, do you believe that is evil? I, for one, do not.

If you used sleep deprivation to make a criminal confess to shoplifting, is it evil?

If you use sleep deprivation to make a person confess to shoplifting, he's going to do that whether or not he actually did the deed. If you do it intensively enough, you can even make him believe he did it. It still doesn't answer the question of whether or not he did it.

So yes, in the real world, of course it's evil.

I was awake for a week straight after 9-11, on guard duty. I was hallucinating and threatening trees that wouldn't produce their IDs for me by the end of it.

But always evil aligned? In any amount? Meh. Neutral. African wild dogs tear out their prey's stomachs and begin to eat while they are still alive, and they are neutral.

The real world unreliability of torture shouldn't come into play during these discussions, but rather the fantasy reality of torture, where the monolithic LE organizations will hustle you off to a dark room and you will talk.

Liberty's Edge

Kain Darkwind wrote:

I was awake for a week straight after 9-11, on guard duty. I was hallucinating and threatening trees that wouldn't produce their IDs for me by the end of it.

But always evil aligned? In any amount? Meh. Neutral.

Like I said, maybe not a day or two...but when people talk about sleep deprivation they tend to mean at least a week, and often substantially longer.

Kain Darkwind wrote:
IAfrican wild dogs tear out their prey's stomachs and begin to eat while they are still alive, and they are neutral.

Animals are Neutral because they lack the capacity to understand right and wrong and thus be anything else. A person who performs similar acts is, in fact, being Evil. Any other attitude makes killing babies fine because lions do it, and rape fine because it's common among ducks.

Kain Darkwind wrote:
The real world unreliability of torture shouldn't come into play during these discussions, but rather the fantasy reality of torture, where the monolithic LE organizations will hustle you off to a dark room and you will talk.

I disagree strongly. Doing this reinforces the narrative that torture is functional, which is not something I want my fiction doing. Pretty much ever.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Torture is functional. Just not the way most people imagine it is. Violence, pain and the threat thereof have solved more problems in the world's history than any hippy love and peace methods combined.

However, I disagree that torture working as intended in fiction somehow influences the world at large, anymore than my society of gender and orientation enlightened individuals in the game has put a stop to discrimination on that front.

Liberty's Edge

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Kain Darkwind wrote:
Torture is functional. Just not the way most people imagine it is.

At what? Torture is great at breaking people down, permanently traumatizing them, and getting them to confess to having sex with the devil, cursing their neighbor with boils, and secretly being a terrorist (whether those things are true or not). What it's not, is at all useful as a tool for getting actual true information.

Kain Darkwind wrote:
Violence, pain and the threat thereof have solved more problems in the world's history than any hippy love and peace methods combined.

Violence is an excellent problem solving tool for certain kinds of problems if used correctly. Threats, and thus fear, are also very useful potentially if used carefully, and even a valid interrogation tactic under most circumstances. Pain? Pain is useful only if you want to make an example of someone, and there are other more humane ways to do that.

Kain Darkwind wrote:
However, I disagree that torture working as intended in fiction somehow influences the world at large, anymore than my society of gender and orientation enlightened individuals in the game has put a stop to discrimination on that front.

Pathfinder is a niche market, and expecting it to change the world on its own is thus unreasonable. But I didn't say 'Pathfinder', I was talking fiction in general, and there's actually loads of evidence that fiction can have a huge effect on cultural mores. There's a reason why propaganda films are a thing, and why they work. The media we consume and the attitudes represented in it that we are exposed to profoundly effect how we view and interact with the world.


Kain Darkwind wrote:

Torture is functional. Just not the way most people imagine it is. Violence, pain and the threat thereof have solved more problems in the world's history than any hippy love and peace methods combined.

However, I disagree that torture working as intended in fiction somehow influences the world at large, anymore than my society of gender and orientation enlightened individuals in the game has put a stop to discrimination on that front.

First of all, put those goalposts back. We were talking about torture, not the use of force in general.

Also, could you maybe imagine a degree of effect somewhere between "none" and "instantly transforming the entire world into a paradise/hellhole"? Or is that too much "hippy peace and love" thinking for you?


Might point out mental torture is often worse then physical torture. and some people would even prefer torture( If done in private). to public shaming. Would you prefer to be punished by twenty lashes or forced to parade nude through the Streets? Not everyone is going to answer the same. Both have been used in the past to deal with so called crimes of immorality
Or if you captured say 4 Evil(By your government standards) cultist and you execute three of them, and then turn to the fourth telling him, we are going to release you and thank you for your help.
Being labeled a snitch by the government may not be physical torture( You just got released to the streets) but what about the mental torture, having everyone think you turned in three friends to be killed and knowing your former allies are going to be out trying to kill you?


One side note. The idea of tossing people in jail for crim did not come about till the Quakers in Pennslyvania started it in the Seventeen century. Almost all punishment before then would be labeled Evil I feel by most people today.

Liberty's Edge

Degoon Squad wrote:

Might point out mental torture is often worse then physical torture. and some people would even prefer torture( If done in private). to public shaming. Would you prefer to be punished by twenty lashes or forced to parade nude through the Streets? Not everyone is going to answer the same. Both have been used in the past to deal with so called crimes of immorality

Or if you captured say 4 Evil(By your government standards) cultist and you execute three of them, and then turn to the fourth telling him, we are going to release you and thank you for your help.
Being labeled a snitch by the government may not be physical torture( You just got released to the streets) but what about the mental torture, having everyone think you turned in three friends to be killed and knowing your former allies are going to be out trying to kill you?

Bad Things You Do To People =/= Torture. Torture is very specific, and does not include either killing someone, insulting them, public shaming, or even flogging in and of itself. Torture is more about the situation than it is the act in many ways. Hitting someone in the face in a bar? Not torture. Hitting someone in the face when they are tied up and you are holding them prisoner, with no real hope of release? Then it's torture. It has to do with complete helplessness and knowing that it's not going to stop at least as much as it does individual acts.

Degoon Squad wrote:
One side note. The idea of tossing people in jail for crim did not come about till the Quakers in Pennslyvania started it in the Seventeen century. Almost all punishment before then would be labeled Evil I feel by most people today.

There's a distinct difference between corporal punishment and torture. Or execution and torture, for that matter.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Pupsocket wrote:
First of all, put those goalposts back. We were talking about torture, not the use of force in general.

And we still are. Right there in my first sentence, I said 'torture is functional'.

Pupsocket wrote:
Also, could you maybe imagine a degree of effect somewhere between "none" and "instantly transforming the entire world into a paradise/hellhole"? Or is that too much "hippy peace and love" thinking for you?

I'm not responding to someone offering a degree of effect somewhere in between, but to DMW's statement that having it in fiction is a bad thing. As such, my imagination is not under question, unless you only prefer shifting the goalposts in your direction?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kain Darkwind wrote:

Torture is functional. Just not the way most people imagine it is. Violence, pain and the threat thereof have solved more problems in the world's history than any hippy love and peace methods combined.

What's your basis for that statement? Do you have actual experience in testing this hypothesis? Or are you basing your statement on action movies and TV?

Yes, torture is great at extracting confessions... they don't even have to be true! I guess from that point of view, it IS a problem solved.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Kain Darkwind wrote:
Torture is functional. Just not the way most people imagine it is.

At what? Torture is great at breaking people down, permanently traumatizing them, and getting them to confess to having sex with the devil, cursing their neighbor with boils, and secretly being a terrorist (whether those things are true or not). What it's not, is at all useful as a tool for getting actual true information.

Violence is an excellent problem solving tool for certain kinds of problems if used correctly. Threats, and thus fear, are also very useful potentially if used carefully, and even a valid interrogation tactic under most circumstances. Pain? Pain is useful only if you want to make an example of someone, and there are other more humane ways to do that.

While the intricacies of torture vs valid interrogation techniques can be debated, I think the main answer here is 'Duh, that's why it's evil. Whether you think torture is effective or not, or how effective, or whether it needs to be combined with other methods...all that is beyond the point. Torture is functional for the simple reason that there are people who will lie to you as an authority figure to protect someone if you ask them nicely, and they will not be willing to lie to you if you are going to beat them half to death and kill their mother in front of them. There are lines and consequences that people are willing to accept. Where those lines are drawn may differ, but they exist.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Kain Darkwind wrote:
However, I disagree that torture working as intended in fiction somehow influences the world at large, anymore than my society of gender and orientation enlightened individuals in the game has put a stop to discrimination on that front.
Pathfinder is a niche market, and expecting it to change the world on its own is thus unreasonable. But I didn't say 'Pathfinder', I was talking fiction in general, and there's actually loads of evidence that fiction can have a huge effect on cultural mores. There's a reason why propaganda films are a thing, and why they work. The media we consume and the attitudes represented in it that we are exposed to profoundly effect how we view and interact with the world.

Neither of us said Pathfinder, actually. Personally, I like to see evil people being evil. I want to see them torturing, raping, murdering, bringing forth demons and devils, etc. I don't like bumbling caricatures of villainy. LE deserves to break a few people on the rack so that the rest of the rabble stays in line.


Kain Darkwind wrote:
. Personally, I like to see evil people being evil. I want to see them torturing, raping, murdering, bringing forth demons and devils, etc. I don't like bumbling caricatures of villainy. LE deserves to break a few people on the rack so that the rest of the rabble stays in line.

Not me, I like my evil of the primrose path variety. I find the dedicated to being evil types boring (although not realistic, see Alister Crowley). I much prefer to have my evil come from corruption, start with torturing one person to save hundreds of lives and twenty years later it's time to throw people into the ovens. Corrupting evil just makes such a better story line.

----edit: realistic should be unrealistic

Liberty's Edge

Kain Darkwind wrote:
While the intricacies of torture vs valid interrogation techniques can be debated, I think the main answer here is 'Duh, that's why it's evil. Whether you think torture is effective or not, or how effective, or whether it needs to be combined with other methods...all that is beyond the point. Torture is functional for the simple reason that there are people who will lie to you as an authority figure to protect someone if you ask them nicely, and they will not be willing to lie to you if you are going to beat them half to death and kill their mother in front of them. There are lines and consequences that people are willing to accept. Where those lines are drawn may differ, but they exist.

Here's the thing though, there's quite a lot of evidence that more humane methods actually work better than torture and similar awfulness. Heck, earlier in the thread I posted a link to the best interrogator in the Luftwaffe...who was never anything but nice and friendly. Heck, he and one of his interrogation subjects were lifelong fiends after the war.

There's basically no evidence torture works, and a lot that it doesn't. Now threats, those have a chance of working...but threatening people doesn't require torturing them at all.

Kain Darkwind wrote:
Neither of us said Pathfinder, actually. Personally, I like to see evil people being evil. I want to see them torturing, raping, murdering, bringing forth demons and devils, etc. I don't like bumbling caricatures of villainy. LE deserves to break a few people on the rack so that the rest of the rabble stays in line.

You misunderstand me. I'm fine with torture being portrayed in media as used by villains to break people, make examples, or even for interrogation, that's fine and doesn't actually reinforce any bad ideas of any sort on its own. What I'm against is showing torture actually working to extract information. That reinforces a number of bad ideas having to do with, well, the idea that torturing someone is ever a good idea as an interrogation tool.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Here's the thing though, there's quite a lot of evidence that more humane methods actually work better than torture and similar awfulness.

Whether such works better or worse seems tangential to the question of whether they should work at all. There's plenty of room for devils to whisper that their ways are most effective and show examples of their triumphs, and angels to counter with examples where the Good approach won great results.

Quote:
What I'm against is showing torture actually working to extract information.

So let's say I want to have an iconically LE inquisitor. Is it not thematically appropriate for such a one to interrogate via torture?

And, many an iconic LE villain is ruthlessly effective, not viciously incompetent.

So what's the solution? Can we reconcile both with your approach?

Liberty's Edge

Coriat wrote:
Whether such works better or worse seems tangential to the question of whether they should work at all. There's plenty of room for devils to whisper that their ways are most effective and show examples of their triumphs, and angels to counter with examples where the Good approach won great results.

It's not quite that simple. If something if effective then some amoral or immoral people will always resort to it,no matter how awful. If it can be proved something is, in fact, not effective then people will actually stop doing it. That's a really good thing, and something I feel is worthwhile and important to work towards.

Coriat wrote:
So let's say I want to have an iconically LE inquisitor. Is it not thematically appropriate for such a one to interrogate via torture?

Appropriate? Sure. Necessary? No. A LE Inquisitor might easily use torture as an example, or to break people down and force them to do or say things they otherwise wouldn't, or as a punishment for failed minions, or simply as a recreational activity, all while using other interrogation methods that still don't paint him in the best light but actually work.

Coriat wrote:
And, many an iconic LE villain is ruthlessly effective, not viciously incompetent.

Oh, very true. Which is why they shouldn't use torture as an information extraction tool.

Coriat wrote:
So what's the solution? Can we reconcile both with your approach?

There are a number of possible ways to do this:

First, like I said, they could use torture for other things, while using actual working interrogation methods (most of which involve fear, imprisonment, and/or deception to some degree...so not the nicest things ever, even if not nearly as bad as torture). Heck, they could have them sent off to be tortured to death as soon as they had the information they wanted. This is actually my favorite. From an Evil perspective torture is both useful and fun...just not as an interrogation method.

They could also use magical means of information extraction that amount to torture (the whole 'ripping the secrets from their mind' thing, for example), those are both painful...and don't imply that the pain is the reason for the information, it's just a side effect. This isn't less Evil than conventional torture, but it at least provides a reason it works. As a variation on this, they could have some mind-reading ability (like Detect Thoughts) and use torture combined with questions to make people think about the answers they're looking for. Not the most efficient method, but again it'd work.

Or they could simply be Evil in ways that don't involve torturing people, of course. :)


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Kain Darkwind wrote:
Torture is functional. Just not the way most people imagine it is.

At what? Torture is great at breaking people down, permanently traumatizing them, and getting them to confess to having sex with the devil, cursing their neighbor with boils, and secretly being a terrorist (whether those things are true or not). What it's not, is at all useful as a tool for getting actual true information.

Kain Darkwind wrote:
Violence, pain and the threat thereof have solved more problems in the world's history than any hippy love and peace methods combined.

Violence is an excellent problem solving tool for certain kinds of problems if used correctly. Threats, and thus fear, are also very useful potentially if used carefully, and even a valid interrogation tactic under most circumstances. Pain? Pain is useful only if you want to make an example of someone, and there are other more humane ways to do that.

I see a lot of people constantly talking about getting confessions whether they are true or not.... Sounds like a very specific corner case.

YES, I would absolutely agree that Torture would cause and innocent person to confess to something they didn't do... Sure. Absolutely...

WHat this insists on however... is that you have the wrong guy to begin with.

This idea that 'someone who is tortured will tell you what you want to hear....' is pretty much EXACTLY what the torturer is GOING for...

If I say said 'Where are your allies at...' And you told me what I wanted to know from fear of more torture... that's a win. If I said 'WHERE IS THE BOMB!!!' and they KNOW... then they'll tell me. If I want to know when the assassination attempt is going to happen...

These are the kinds of results that 'Telling you what you want to hear' are pretty valid answers IF you got the guy who HAS the knowledge... and knows you're going to check it and punish him more if he lies...

This whole 'Admit to being a witch' isn't really a valid line of questioning... and no information gotten is reliable. But 'What is the password to get past the guards...' That has potential...

And SERIOUSLY... HOW is it that all these 'absolutist' statements show up on these forums... and suddenly I'm defending Torture?!?!!

Still totally Evil!!! But the idea that it's 'useless' isn't something I believe.

Liberty's Edge

phantom1592 wrote:

I see a lot of people constantly talking about getting confessions whether they are true or not.... Sounds like a very specific corner case.

YES, I would absolutely agree that Torture would cause and innocent person to confess to something they didn't do... Sure. Absolutely...

Indeed.

phantom1592 wrote:
WHat this insists on however... is that you have the wrong guy to begin with.

No, it does not. Even legitimately guilty people shouldn't be tortured, because it's a bad interrogation tactic.

phantom1592 wrote:
This idea that 'someone who is tortured will tell you what you want to hear....' is pretty much EXACTLY what the torturer is GOING for...

No, it isn't. Not if they're trying to get good, workable, information. Every interrogator goes in with assumptions, some of which will inevitably be wrong. Because the torture victim is so eager to please, even if they don't lie they'll happily confirm everything the torturer goes in believing is true even the things that aren't true at all.

Think of this like the scientific method: You have a hypothesis, you then perform experiments to test that hypothesis and see if it's true. In some ways, interrogation is a lot like that...but if you're using torture, the information goes through a filter of "Will he be upset if I tell him this?" and just doesn't get to you if the answer is yes. You only get the answers the victim thinks you want to hear. It's the same problem as shooting the messenger: Nobody tells you the true things that you don't want to hear.

phantom1592 wrote:
If I say said 'Where are your allies at...' And you told me what I wanted to know from fear of more torture... that's a win. If I said 'WHERE IS THE BOMB!!!' and they KNOW... then they'll tell me. If I want to know when the assassination attempt is going to happen...

This assumes there's a bomb and not a chemical attack. It assumes they have allies and aren't a lone agent with a single control officer. But he'll say he has a team and a bomb if those are the questions you ask him. It makes assumptions, and might thus get you fatally bad information. And it assumes they tell you the truth.

phantom1592 wrote:
These are the kinds of results that 'Telling you what you want to hear' are pretty valid answers IF you got the guy who HAS the knowledge... and knows you're going to check it and punish him more if he lies...

The threat of punishment only works if you have some quick, risk free, way to check the victim's information. That's almost never the case in intelligence work or military operations. People you torture are scared s~~&less of you, but they also hate you, deeply and profoundly, and will lie whenever they think they can get away with it. The same is simply not true of other, better, interrogation methods.

phantom1592 wrote:
This whole 'Admit to being a witch' isn't really a valid line of questioning... and no information gotten is reliable. But 'What is the password to get past the guards...' That has potential...

Not really. And information your target doesn't reveal he's given you (the way a lot of friendlier interrogation methods work) is actually pretty reliable.

And as for the guards thing...why not just threaten the guy? That works better than torture, since he's less likely to hate you and wish you dead, and more likely to believe he might live through this if he gives you what you want. How is torturing him better than believably threatening his life?

phantom1592 wrote:
And SERIOUSLY... HOW is it that all these 'absolutist' statements show up on these forums... and suddenly I'm defending Torture?!?!!

No. But you're displaying and reinforcing an attitude that is untrue and that people who do use torture use to excuse their crimes.

phantom1592 wrote:
Still totally Evil!!! But the idea that it's 'useless' isn't something I believe.

Then you are, quite simply, wrong.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
And as for the guards thing...why not just threaten the guy? That works better than torture, since he's less likely to hate you and wish you dead, and more likely to believe he might live through this if he gives you what you want. How is torturing him better than believably threatening his life?

/shrug

What good is a threat if you're not willing to back it up?

I generally assume that Threats are a PART of the torture process... but if you've got a reputation of 'a good guy'... then what does the bad guy have to fear? Execution? Prison? A hardened criminal won't fear prison, and a zealot doesn't fear death...

I guess I'm having a difficult time wrapping my head around 'threatening' is ok, but following through with that threat is bad...

Actually no, I still absolutely believe that Torture is evil... I'm questioning 'effectiveness'.

If I were a prisoner trying hold on to my secret information for the good of the group... and someone threatened to hurt me, I'd try to match my stubbornness against theirs... See who wins out. If all he is is bluster... I'd probably win.

If He asked repeatedly and threatened to break my fingers... and I still held out... and he snapped one and said '9 to go'.... Then yeah, that threat has an actual meaning now... we're all on the same page and I'm a LOT more scared of what's coming than I was when it was just words...

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