Killing Orcs toddlers is evil?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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blackbloodtroll wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
If you think killing babies is a good act in any form or shape, you have some serious issues with your moral compass and should probably reflect on that for a long while.
...and yet, everybody sees the Spartans as heroes...

Well, not everyone. I don't at least. They were just good fighters, but they still got their butts handed to them by the LGBT warriors of the time so they weren't even the best fighters (the sacred band of thebes were! :P). :)


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You youngsters nowadays...

Back in MY day, we raided Orc orphanages for XP and loot! It's a well-known scientific fact that Orc babies grow gold coins on the lining of their stomach.

Back in MY day, folks didn't care about alignment, because we just used the sacks of gold found in baby Orcs to buy out Atonement spells from the kindly priests of Correlan Lorethian, who were more than happy to furnish them to us for a minimal fee of 1 CP per!

Back in MY day, we used baby Goblins as fashion accessories and, occasionally, extra protection strapped on front of a tower shield. Sure, it was only 1d4 temporary HP, but it was worth it!

All these new-fangled 'morals' and 'alignments' getting in the way of the honest Murderhobo trade! This generation will be the death of adventuring, I tell you!

*In all seriousness though, IS there a right or wrong answer? I don't believe so, because each person on this thread has a different version of what alignment is, how much mercy is required to be good, what acts are completely evil, and what differentiates one born evil race from another born evil race. Given that nearly every text contradicts another text and those texts are contradicted by a developer and a developer is contradicted by later published books, then how can people claim to know what is the real answer? Personal opinion or morality? Those only have value to the individual person. While I am not a fan of subjective morality, due to it's major downsides, there are no true answers to be found, so let's all leave it at that. Otherwise it is just another form of rules-lawyering, which is something that is one of the most undesirable things that result from RPGs.*


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Damon Griffin wrote:
...it remains an evil act if those helpless, elderly/infirm, or surrendered adults are neutral or evil.

Not necessarily. If you KNOW that they personally have committed murders/pillaging etc, then killing them would be executions, not murders.

Admittedly - you couldn't do so in the modern day - but it's unlikely most settings have a robust justice system.

After all - if you're hunting down evildoers, you aren't stopped from finishing them off if, when they're down to 3hp they hold up their hands "I give up! Take me in officer. I have seen the error of my ways and totally won't try to escape once I get my spell slots back tomorrow." *smirk*.

I don't know. It depends on what you see monsters as.

When they slaughter the calfs for meat from the ranchers each year...does it bother you...how much?

When they mass kill rats and mice, including the babies and young ones, does that bother you?

When they allow the killing of wolf packs and coyotes, including the young ones, does that bother you?

If you see monsters in the same light as wolves, tigers, orcs, boars, goblins, lions, Dire Rats, Giant Beetles, Giant Spiders...etc.

Then no, I wouldn't say it's evil. It's exterminations of dangerous or wild monsters or pests that could endanger civilization.

On the otherhand if you see them as separate, and akin to humans and able to live side by side with no problem (I suppose similar to those goblins found in Thornkeep) then, yes, you're probably right.

Liberty's Edge

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Crusty Ol' Adventurer wrote:
*In all seriousness though, IS there a right or wrong answer?

Yes, it's in the rulebook under "Alignment."


PrinceRaven wrote:


b) Everyone in the village is Evil (and racist) enough that they'd kill toddlers on sight just because of their race.

I object to this categorization, and it's why (the fact interbreeding is possible be damned) it needs at least for these discussions to be called species and not race.

Racism among humans is horrendous because human races are equal. PF "races" are not. When you throw "racism" around for PF races you wrongly suggest they're as equal as human races and it becomes a far too potent word.

I think this bleeds into the discussion of killing babies, too, because in real life one would have to know a human baby's future before it could possibly be moral to kill him or her, as in time travel scenarios with baby Ted Bundy, baby Josef Stalin, or baby Adolf Hitler.

Now, others have pointed out that all orcs being evil and violent is highly unlikely. I was an early one to argue that baby killing isn't always evil in PF and I'd admit that isn't likely the devs' intent.

I tend to hate, however, categorical statements, like "killing babies is always evil" (though it is true in the real world) and thus pointed out that a GM's universe could be such that 99% of orcs would become evil, and in a universe such as that killing baby orcs would be good. I never said that was the best way or the most-true-to-canon way for a universe to be constructed, but said that in such a universe killing baby orcs would be a good act for the future lives it would save (or, if the 99% were true but just cultural, it would be preferable to have them raised in a different culture).

So, that's the point. According to the GM, maybe "only" 75% of orcs are evil, and then killing orc babies is certainly an evil act. If it's 100% of orc babies who'll become violently evil if not killed then killing them is clearly good, and almost as clearly at least "not evil" and probably good if it's 98-99%.

Liberty's Edge

Ok how about "Everyone in the village is Evil (and sub-speciesist) that they'd kill toddlers on sight just because of their sub-species."

Even if orcs were always evil, always violent, and always ended up killing people, does your character actually know that or is that something they've been led to believe? How much research have they done into orc morality, culture and alignment to reach the decision that the orc toddlers should be killed?

Sure, a GM could have a world where orcs are always evil,* they could even have a world where all orcs are so evil that they will inevitably do something worthy of being punished by death. But that isn't the default for Pathfinder orcs, so I'd be careful about making that assumption.

*or indeed, any race


The problem with the time-travel scenarios about killing toddlers is that yes, you knew what would happen to the child in the future... until the time travel was made. There are many views of how time travel would work, but the basic two versions do not change this.

If time is static, meaning the past can not be changed, and thus, your time jump has always been part of the equation, then it's most likely your influence that caused Hitler to become evil somehow, and besides, you literally can't kill him.

If time is plastic, meaning a time jump allows you to change anything, then your very time jump gives Hitler a clean slate, denying you any knowledge of what would happen to him, and thus, no change to the moral situation of killing any toddler around you today.


Orc babys are the ultimate ANKLE BITERS...they needed to be put down


Oly wrote:

I object to this categorization, and it's why (the fact interbreeding is possible be damned) it needs at least for these discussions to be called species and not race.

Racism among humans is horrendous because human races are equal. PF "races" are not. When you throw "racism" around for PF races you wrongly suggest they're as equal as human races and it becomes a far too potent word.

You're right, they're not equal. They're stronger, and dumber. They still have free will, bipedal structure, sentience, and the ability to assimilate into cultural society, however difficult. They're equal for all intents and purposes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thegreenteagamer wrote:
Don't ya just love the internet, and Paizo's OGL? Makes this kinda thing easy to look up. Check it out.

Alas, as I was typing my last response during my break at my workplace, I couldn't access the OGL sites, since they are filtered as gaming (and this messageboard isn't, go figure).

thegreenteagamer wrote:

According to this, half-fiends are native outsiders, not evil outsiders, BUT they're always evil, not mostly.

Tieflings, on the other hand, vary the gamut, but lean more to evil; still, there's more than just a handful of good tieflings, so it's a little more cut-and-dry than the average orc.

Well, I reject the premise of a sentient creature which is born to be evil. Even demons and devils have some redeemability, although it is miniscule. Creatures which are born without a fully formed mind (like real evil outsiders are) cannot be inherently evil, that makes no sense at all.


magnuskn wrote:

Well, I reject the premise of a sentient creature which is born to be evil. Even demons and devils have some redeemability, although it is miniscule.

Well, you want to make the argument that it would be evil to kill any sapient being, ever, you would not be alone in that argument.

But if you don't, you still have to deal with consequentiality. And I don't think something shifts from being Evil just because it goes from being a 99% chance of a toddler being evil to, say 75% chance. The situation dictates what is practical, and practical solutions to tend to be, on the balance, neutral.

There was someone upthread that argued humans are basically evil. Again, that argument can be made, but the most clear solution in my mind would be to exterminate humans. I find that kind of moral thinking unhelpful.


RJGrady wrote:
The situation dictates what is practical, and practical solutions to tend to be, on the balance, neutral.

Just because a solution is practical does not make it neutral, and it's not even a very strong reason to suspect that it might be, in itself. Neutral actually doesn't have such a monopoly on practicality, I think; in various situations any of the nine alignments might claim their solution as the most practical.

However, if we look beyond the Core Rulebook line about Neutral compunctions (which I still don't think you've addressed?), we can also find further material in Ultimate Campaign.

Massacring rival groups to prevent any possible future threat to your own is not particularly aligned with any of the Core Concepts of Neutrality that are featured there (which include stuff like balance, harmony, equality, impartiality). It is however in line with several of the Lawful Evil core concepts: calculation, rationality, punishment.

Which might mean that LE is indeed a better fit than NE, but still doesn't look good for Neutral.


magnuskn wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:
Don't ya just love the internet, and Paizo's OGL? Makes this kinda thing easy to look up. Check it out.

Alas, as I was typing my last response during my break at my workplace, I couldn't access the OGL sites, since they are filtered as gaming (and this messageboard isn't, go figure).

thegreenteagamer wrote:

According to this, half-fiends are native outsiders, not evil outsiders, BUT they're always evil, not mostly.

Tieflings, on the other hand, vary the gamut, but lean more to evil; still, there's more than just a handful of good tieflings, so it's a little more cut-and-dry than the average orc.

Well, I reject the premise of a sentient creature which is born to be evil. Even demons and devils have some redeemability, although it is miniscule. Creatures which are born without a fully formed mind (like real evil outsiders are) cannot be inherently evil, that makes no sense at all.

It doesn't really matter what you reject. I reject the premise of creatures which aren't inherently evil, but somehow always wind up that way. I reject the premise of cultures that are so inherently evil that anyone raised in them becomes evil and the only solution is to slaughter every adult and probably the older children and adopt all the babies.

But it doesn't matter what I reject either. If I'm playing in a game and the GM is using a premise I reject, my options are to accept the premise for the sake of the game or leave the game. Telling the GM he's wrong about the imaginary things he created makes even less sense.
Acting in the game as if things don't work the way they do in that world is just going to lead to trouble. If I kill the babies because I believe that all orcs are just like that and culture can't lead to that kind of uniformity, then I can't complain when the GM makes me Evil because of it - as long as he's made it clear to me upfront.
If you think they must be redeemable and set up an orphanage for them, even though the GM tells you they're not, you can't complain when they turn out to be evil after all and slaughter the nuns and other children.

Figure out what the GM thinks. Decide if you can live with it and then do so. If he won't tell you, walk away. If you don't want to deal with this kind of scenario, tell him that.

And ask him why he set up the situation so the only alternative was to kill every single adult - because to me, that's the root of the problem.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
RJGrady wrote:
magnuskn wrote:

Well, I reject the premise of a sentient creature which is born to be evil. Even demons and devils have some redeemability, although it is miniscule.

Well, you want to make the argument that it would be evil to kill any sapient being, ever, you would not be alone in that argument.

Not what I've been saying and I got no idea how you made that correlation. People can fall on the scale between good and evil consequent to their actions. Babies don't have any actions to their names besides typical baby stuff, so they can't inherently be evil.

RJGrady wrote:
But if you don't, you still have to deal with consequentiality. And I don't think something shifts from being Evil just because it goes from being a 99% chance of a toddler being evil to, say 75% chance. The situation dictates what is practical, and practical solutions to tend to be, on the balance, neutral.

I disagree. A philosophy which assumes that people will turn out 100% (or even 75%) assuredly as evil is abhorrent. It may be excused in the case of beings which are not born but formed to be evil (again, outsiders and such), but should clearly be false in the case of beings who had a life cycle as sentient beings and were brought up from birth with an education.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

It doesn't really matter what you reject. I reject the premise of creatures which aren't inherently evil, but somehow always wind up that way. I reject the premise of cultures that are so inherently evil that anyone raised in them becomes evil and the only solution is to slaughter every adult and probably the older children and adopt all the babies.

But it doesn't matter what I reject either. If I'm playing in a game and the GM is using a premise I reject, my options are to accept the premise for the sake of the game or leave the game.

Actually, by the action of walking away from such a game you make it matter what you reject. So, you are wrong on your premise.


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magnuskn wrote:


I disagree. A philosophy which assumes that people will turn out 100% (or even 75%) assuredly as evil is abhorrent. It may be excused in the case of beings which are not born but formed to be evil (again, outsiders and such), but should clearly be false in the case of beings who had a life cycle as sentient beings and were brought up from birth with an education.

The vast majority of the time, it's not a philosophy. It's a design assumption - generally a simple one, intended to remove philosophical complexity: In this game, these are the bad guys. It's OK to kill them because they're the bad guys.

That this would be abhorrent in the real world isn't relevant. It's not even relevant that groups in the real world have made similar claims about other groups. That's the way things are in that imaginary setting for whatever invented reason.

That said, I would expect GMs running such settings to present such creatures in a way consistent with that premise and not to present the characters with helpless babies and other similar scenarios. Because that's a level of moral complexity not proper for the premise.


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magnuskn wrote:
thejeff wrote:

It doesn't really matter what you reject. I reject the premise of creatures which aren't inherently evil, but somehow always wind up that way. I reject the premise of cultures that are so inherently evil that anyone raised in them becomes evil and the only solution is to slaughter every adult and probably the older children and adopt all the babies.

But it doesn't matter what I reject either. If I'm playing in a game and the GM is using a premise I reject, my options are to accept the premise for the sake of the game or leave the game.

Actually, by the action of walking away from such a game you make it matter what you reject. So, you are wrong on your premise.

In that sense, you're correct. You just can't reject the premise and continue to participate as if it wasn't true.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

The vast majority of the time, it's not a philosophy. It's a design assumption - generally a simple one, intended to remove philosophical complexity: In this game, these are the bad guys. It's OK to kill them because they're the bad guys.

That this would be abhorrent in the real world isn't relevant. It's not even relevant that groups in the real world have made similar claims about other groups. That's the way things are in that imaginary setting for whatever invented reason.

That said, I would expect GMs running such settings to present such creatures in a way consistent with that premise and not to present the characters with helpless babies and other similar scenarios. Because that's a level of moral complexity not proper for the premise.

It is of course relevant to the game world. We expect ourselves to play realistic characters (in the context of personal characterization, at least). That means that we should hold ourselves to the standards we should expect to adhere to in real life. Allowances must be made to adhere to the adventuring lifestyle, but those should not be extended towards child murder. Never.

Grand Lodge

Scythia wrote:

This is why "objective morality" doesn't work.

The people adjudicating it are not objective.

This is why in Pathfinder I focus more on the deities than "objective morality". I daresay the deific pantheon structure makes Pathfinder actually more hostile to things approximating "objective morality". Ingrained in the very structure of the setting are various arbitrators of good and evil. I could see a paladin of Iomedae executing the orc children without a second thought and keeping their powers, while a paladin of Sarenrae would lose their Lay On Hands faster than they could say "Dawn Flower".


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magnuskn wrote:
thejeff wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
I disagree. A philosophy which assumes that people will turn out 100% (or even 75%) assuredly as evil is abhorrent. It may be excused in the case of beings which are not born but formed to be evil (again, outsiders and such), but should clearly be false in the case of beings who had a life cycle as sentient beings and were brought up from birth with an education.

The vast majority of the time, it's not a philosophy. It's a design assumption - generally a simple one, intended to remove philosophical complexity: In this game, these are the bad guys. It's OK to kill them because they're the bad guys.

That this would be abhorrent in the real world isn't relevant. It's not even relevant that groups in the real world have made similar claims about other groups. That's the way things are in that imaginary setting for whatever invented reason.

That said, I would expect GMs running such settings to present such creatures in a way consistent with that premise and not to present the characters with helpless babies and other similar scenarios. Because that's a level of moral complexity not proper for the premise.

It is of course relevant to the game world. We expect ourselves to play realistic characters (in the context of personal characterization, at least). That means that we should hold ourselves to the standards we should expect to adhere to in real life. Allowances must be made to adhere to the adventuring lifestyle, but those should not be extended towards child murder. Never.

It's not relevant if in the game setting they're not actually children, but just immature monsters. There aren't humanoid monsters in the real world, so there just isn't a parallel.

But it's not really the characters actions I was commenting on. Nor did I think you were talking about that. Characters with a philosophy that said 100% of a race/species would turn out evil would be abhorrent in a world in which that wasn't true. In a world in which it was true, characters who kept trying to redeem such monsters and getting innocents killed because of it would be abhorrent.
Designing such a setting isn't abhorrent or even particularly philosophical, even though it's not really to my taste. It's most likely just "Let's play a game with black and white morality, where we can play heroes without worrying about the gray nasty bits".

Liberty's Edge

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thejeff wrote:

It's not relevant if in the game setting they're not actually children, but just immature monsters. There aren't humanoid monsters in the real world, so there just isn't a parallel.

But it's not really the characters actions I was commenting on. Nor did I think you were talking about that. Characters with a philosophy that said 100% of a race/species would turn out evil would be abhorrent in a world in which that wasn't true. In a world in which it was true, characters who kept trying to redeem such monsters and getting innocents killed because of it would be abhorrent.
Designing such a setting isn't abhorrent or even particularly philosophical, even though it's not really to my taste. It's most likely just "Let's play a game with black and white morality, where we can play heroes without worrying about the gray nasty bits".

You're technically right. However, as presented, Pathfinder is not in any way the world you're talking about. Making it such a world is very much a House Rule.

Additionally, what you make true in your game world (or other fiction) sends a message. For example, one could easily make a world in which one gender of most of the civilized races (say, women) were objectively inferior in intellect and other areas, and primarily kept solely for breeding. In the world, this is objectively true, and trying to get them equal treatment is crazy talk...but you've just made a world where women's rights are a bad idea.

That potentially sends a very unpleasant message about your real world beliefs (or makes you seem amazingly insensitive) and creates a profound sense of moral dissonance between that world and the real world which can be very unpleasant for some players.

Making genocide of a sapient race with things like children a good thing has exactly the same set of problems. You can do it, certainly, but I'd argue you almost certainly shouldn't.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
thejeff wrote:

It's not relevant if in the game setting they're not actually children, but just immature monsters. There aren't humanoid monsters in the real world, so there just isn't a parallel.

But it's not really the characters actions I was commenting on. Nor did I think you were talking about that. Characters with a philosophy that said 100% of a race/species would turn out evil would be abhorrent in a world in which that wasn't true. In a world in which it was true, characters who kept trying to redeem such monsters and getting innocents killed because of it would be abhorrent.
Designing such a setting isn't abhorrent or even particularly philosophical, even though it's not really to my taste. It's most likely just "Let's play a game with black and white morality, where we can play heroes without worrying about the gray nasty bits".

You're technically right. However, as presented, Pathfinder is not in any way the world you're talking about. Making it such a world is very much a House Rule.

Additionally, what you make true in your game world (or other fiction) sends a message. For example, one could easily make a world in which one gender of most of the civilized races (say, women) were objectively inferior in intellect and other areas, and primarily kept solely for breeding. In the world, this is objectively true, and trying to get them equal treatment is crazy talk...but you've just made a world where women's rights are a bad idea.

That potentially sends a very unpleasant message about your real world beliefs (or makes you seem amazingly insensitive) and creates a profound sense of moral dissonance between that world and the real world which can be very unpleasant for some players.

Making genocide of a sapient race with things like children a good thing has exactly the same set of problems. You can do it, certainly, but I'd argue you almost certainly shouldn't.

It's a house rule, I guess. Though I'd consider it more of a setting change, which doesn't usually rise to the level of rules change, IMO.

It's a very different set of problems. At the very least, doing so for the humans, which are often the dominant race, is far more of a direct sexist thing. Doing so for other playable races has problems as well. Any races established as innately evil are not likely to be playable.

But you're right. Bad guy races as monsters does send a message. That message however is "I'm a creepy racist", but "we're playing in a black & white world where there are clear good guys and bad guys and we're here to kill the bad guys and not worry about the complicated moral questions". As I've said several times, it's not my preference, other than maybe for short beer&pretzels games.
What bothers me more however, is when humanoid races are essentially treated that way, but officially remain "Not just monsters". Which is far more common than I like. Theoretically they're free-willed sapients capable of moral choice, but all the ones you run into are evil and generally just there to be killed. Until you're presented with the kids whose parents you've just had to slaughter to the last orc, because they were evil monsters, just like all the other orcs, but the kids are now precious innocents.
If you're going to make them actual moral creatures, you have to actually do so. You have to put some actual moral complexity into them, not just have it theoretically present.

Paizo has done so in some places, though they are fairly few and far between.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:


Additionally, what you make true in your game world (or other fiction) sends a message. For example, one could easily make a world in which one gender of most of the civilized races (say, women) were objectively inferior in intellect and other areas, and primarily kept solely for breeding. In the world, this is objectively true, and trying to get them equal treatment is crazy talk...but you've just made a world where women's rights are a bad idea.

That potentially sends a very unpleasant message about your real world beliefs (or makes you seem amazingly insensitive) and creates a profound sense of moral dissonance between that world and the real world which can be very unpleasant for some players.

Making genocide of a sapient race with things like children a good thing has exactly the same set of problems. You can do it, certainly, but I'd argue you almost certainly shouldn't.

That about sums it up.

Grand Lodge

Deadmanwalking has quite eloquently put out the strongest artistic argument for not making one's setting such as proposed by some individuals in this thread where such things as redemption of unlikely targets is in fact impossible.

However I can see the merit of a setting insofar as it establishes "isn't our own reality so much better once these things are taken into account?" Of course that's only if you're painstakingly devoid of any desires for escapism in your gaming.


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Ms. Pleiades wrote:

Deadmanwalking has quite eloquently put out the strongest artistic argument for not making one's setting such as proposed by some individuals in this thread where such things as redemption of unlikely targets is in fact impossible.

However I can see the merit of a setting insofar as it establishes "isn't our own reality so much better once these things are taken into account?" Of course that's only if you're painstakingly devoid of any desires for escapism in your gaming.

The appeal of such a setting is that it's a good one for when you're just messing around and not taking things too seriously. I wouldn't want to run a game about how it's impossible to redeem monsters in such a setting. I might run a game in which such questions just don't come up because they're too busy trying to kill people and you're too busy trying to stop them. Children and babies may exist, but they'll be offstage, because that's not the type of game it is.

Or I'll run a more nuanced, morally complex game in which the orcs aren't all evil monsters and even when you come into conflict with them there will be reasons for the conflict and ways to resolve it that don't involve slaughtering every adult and leaving you with babies.

It's the conflation of the two that's truly problematic: Every actual existing orc or at least all the ones that come onstage really are evil monsters that need to be killed, but since they're theoretically capable of moral choice the babies have to be protected. Make the adults morally complex then you can use them as enemies without having to kill them all and the child problem doesn't arise.

Liberty's Edge

thejeff wrote:
It's a house rule, I guess. Though I'd consider it more of a setting change, which doesn't usually rise to the level of rules change, IMO.

It pretty directly contradicts the Bestiary's rules on the alignment of creatures. I'd call that a rules change. But really, we're splitting hairs on this bit.

thejeff wrote:
It's a very different set of problems. At the very least, doing so for the humans, which are often the dominant race, is far more of a direct sexist thing. Doing so for other playable races has problems as well. Any races established as innately evil are not likely to be playable.

It's not a precise analogy, but making there be 'always Evil, completely unplayable' races has its own unfortunate implications if you really explore them.

thejeff wrote:
But you're right. Bad guy races as monsters does send a message. That message however is "I'm a creepy racist", but "we're playing in a black & white world where there are clear good guys and bad guys and we're here to kill the bad guys and not worry about the complicated moral questions". As I've said several times, it's not my preference, other than maybe for short beer&pretzels games.

But...nothing about that sentence necessitates 'Always Evil' races. A quick bit about how Group A have been raiding Group B for years and a stewpot found with human bones in it establish with no doubt that Group A are Bad Guys and can be killed without moral quandary regardless of their race. Just don't have their children show up, and you're good to go with far fewer, even unintentional, racist implications.

thejeff wrote:
What bothers me more however, is when humanoid races are essentially treated that way, but officially remain "Not just monsters". Which is far more common than I like. Theoretically they're free-willed sapients capable of moral choice, but all the ones you run into are evil and generally just there to be killed. Until you're presented with the kids whose parents you've just had to slaughter to the last orc, because they were evil monsters, just like all the other orcs, but the kids are now precious innocents.

Eh. There's some truth to it, but enemies you fight in APs or other adventures are usually (or at least often) Evil. Therefore, if you wind up fighting Race X...you're probably fighting Evil ones. Combine that with, say, Orcs and Humans not actually having a lot of villages where both live...and you get this impression without it meaning a lot about the world.

And some races clearly do have more of a tendency to be Evil in Pathfinder and Golarion canon. And I'm perfectly okay with that, as it makes sense for, say, a race with terrible tempers and a propensity for violence to be a bit less likely to be Good than one without (since it requires more effort for them to be that way). In fact, that seems interesting, and is probably even true of different people in the real world (though it's in no way broken down along racial lines). It provides a reason for most Orcs to be enemies and also an opportunity for interesting roleplaying (especially if anyone plays an Orc). This can have a few unfortunate implications of its own, but none worse than racial bonuses or penalties to Intelligence.

thejeff wrote:

If you're going to make them actual moral creatures, you have to actually do so. You have to put some actual moral complexity into them, not just have it theoretically present.

Paizo has done so in some places, though they are fairly few and far between.

I dunno, I feel like they're actually decently common. Maybe that's just me, though.


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In my view, Neutral almost certainly includes acts that include some level of evil, as well as acts that include some level of good. My test is simple: can I conceive of a solidly neutral person condoning the act, in full knowledge of what is entailed, without a significant jarring to their worldview?

Genocide is distateful. It is evil in the sense of, "Why is there so much evil in the world?" But deciding whether any particular act is Good, Neutral, or Evil rests on why the act was done, how it was done, and the consequences of the act. If the act of killing orc toddlers was done to protect a village from future predations, it was done as cleanly as you can do such a thing, and the result is generally less violence in the region, to me that seems like it qualifies as Neutral. Is it nice? No. Is it moral? That depends on our morality. Does it suit modern, Western sensibilities? No. But all we're talking about is something else, whether an act was clearly perpetrated by someone acting on evil sentiments.

I'm not for genocide. I'm also not for pacifism, which plenty of good people are for. I think pacifism is unethical. But that's just my opinion, I don't assume that everyone who refuses to take arms is a bad person. My wife says I'm Chaotic Good, shading into Chaotic Neutral... I say I'm CN, shading into CG. Either way, clearly, my moral compass is not a paladin's. Not only am I not a paladin, I wouldn't want to be. To me, a paladin's moral compass is "wrong."

So really, it's important to focus on how alignment is handled in-game. There is no checklist of things that are or aren't permissible. Instead, you have to look at the balance (intent, method, consequences) and ask, "Basically, what kind of act is being performed here?" And ideological or philosophical arguments of free will are potentially useful, but they aren't the heart of the matter.

In my view, a society that routinely and blithely practices "total warfare" against other tribes, human, orc, or otherwise, doesn't get to claim to be Good. They are disqualified. Only under the most demanding circumstances could that be excused. But neither do I insist they are automatically Evil. It doesn't fit what I know of human nature to even accept that, since I know that many if not most people of a generally Neutral character in history were comfortable with some infanticide in some situations.

If you can't accept that the people who would kill orc toddlers are Neutral, if you feel this automatically marks someone as Evil, you are 1) probably reacting to your own cultural biases, and 2) likely more Good than most people in history or the present day, have a gold star. Almost all modern people are, at some level, complicit in far worse things in the world today. So, to look at warring groups of Apaches and white settlers and say, "All of those people were pretty much evil," I think is something that is easy to do when you are not those people. I personally might look down on ethnic cleansing, but if I were a poor person in the middle of a racialized conflict, there is probably not much I wouldn't do to protect my family.


Roger Corbera wrote:

Hello, once my players killed an orcs clans. After clawing through the barbarian chieftain his witch wife and his warrior concubines, they found three orcs toddlers. And the PC barbarian simply killed them.

Considering orcs are naturaly evil, that's not an evil act, but they were small kids, anyway.
So it was plague control or terrible crime?

Depends on whether they are Tolkien orcs or, say, Eberron orcs.

Of course, Warhammer orcs don't seem to have a childhood (or females), so the question is moot with them.

Pathfinder orcs? I don't know. PF seemed to be in some ways a reaction against Eberron when it came to humanoids; as if it was making a point to say that its goblins and orcs were NOT the sort of people who could forge nations that (while possibly objectionable on some levels) one could basically reason and coexist with. Thus, PF humanoids are portrayed in a much more negative light than those of Eberron.

However, are they IRREDEEMABLY evil? Is it IMPOSSIBLE for a young orc to grow up to be "good"? I don't know that that's stated anywhere either.

What would be the alternative to killing the orclings? Leaving them be to starve to death or be eaten by wildlife? Bringing them to a city and letting them loose on the streets after the orphanage refuses to take in the "monsters"?

Liberty's Edge

RJGrady wrote:
Genocide is distateful. It is evil in the sense of, "Why is there so much evil in the world?" But deciding whether any particular act is Good, Neutral, or Evil rests on why the act was done, how it was done, and the consequences of the act. If the act of killing orc toddlers was done to protect a village from future predations, it was done as cleanly as you can do such a thing, and the result is generally less violence in the region, to me that seems like it qualifies as Neutral. Is it nice? No. Is it moral? That depends on our morality. Does it suit modern, Western sensibilities? No. But all we're talking about is something else, whether an act was clearly perpetrated by someone acting on evil sentiments.

No, we aren't. This isn't how alignment works.

Nowhere does anything in the alignment rules say that only motivation and consequences matter in determining whether an act is Evil. The inherent nature of the particular act is also highly relevant.

So...yeah, you're talking from a very specific perspective that the books definition of alignment does not necessarily agree with. Nor does the moral or ethical opinion of many people (myself included) in real life.

EDIT: And even just arguing consequences...you're ignoring the obvious consequence of a bunch of dead children. That's...pretty hard to argue as not a profoundly and ridiculously Evil consequence.

Liberty's Edge

Werebat wrote:
Depends on whether they are Tolkien orcs or, say, Eberron orcs.

Very true. I don't even object to Tolkien's Orcs, which are created beings without any real defined life cycle.

Werebat wrote:
Of course, Warhammer orcs don't seem to have a childhood (or females), so the question is moot with them.

I'm not sure Tolkien's Orcs have those things either.

Werebat wrote:
Pathfinder orcs? I don't know. PF seemed to be in some ways a reaction against Eberron when it came to humanoids; as if it was making a point to say that its goblins and orcs were NOT the sort of people who could forge nations that (while possibly objectionable on some levels) one could basically reason and coexist with. Thus, PF humanoids are portrayed in a much more negative light than those of Eberron.

This is definitely true. From descriptions, it seems distinctly more cultural than genetic, though.

Werebat wrote:
However, are they IRREDEEMABLY evil? Is it IMPOSSIBLE for a young orc to grow up to be "good"? I don't know that that's stated anywhere either.

It is. We've got canonical Neutral Orcs, and the strong implication of Good ones (Irabeth's father seems very likely to be good from his description, though since we lack his stats we can't be 100% sure).

Werebat wrote:
What would be the alternative to killing the orclings? Leaving them be to starve to death or be eaten by wildlife? Bringing them to a city and letting them loose on the streets after the orphanage refuses to take in the "monsters"?

If you're a Good person with no other options? Raise them yourself. Though, frankly, finding the nearest temple of Sarenrae almost certainly works just as well.


What this thread reminds me of


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Werebat wrote:
What would be the alternative to killing the orclings? Leaving them be to starve to death or be eaten by wildlife? Bringing them to a city and letting them loose on the streets after the orphanage refuses to take in the "monsters"?
If you're a Good person with no other options?

If you're a Neutral person

Liberty's Edge

"Well I'm just going to assume they can't survive in the wild, I don't care enough to raise them despite being the person responsible for their current situation, and no one is willing to raise them, not even an orphanage or temple of Sarenrae, Might as well kill them now." Is not only Evil, but also very lazy.

Liberty's Edge

DominusMegadeus wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Werebat wrote:
What would be the alternative to killing the orclings? Leaving them be to starve to death or be eaten by wildlife? Bringing them to a city and letting them loose on the streets after the orphanage refuses to take in the "monsters"?
If you're a Good person with no other options?
If you're a Neutral person

Then this is a defining moment in that character's life.

If they've exhausted all other options other than raising them themselves or killing them, then taking them in to raise them themselves shunts them way towards Good...and killing them all the way down to Evil.

But, again, with Sarenrae as one of the main 20 Gods...this is a deeply unlikely scenario in Golarion in the first place. one of her temples will take them. Basically for sure. And if you're not willing to spend a bit of time and effort finding such a place to save the lives of children...you're probably Evil already.


Deadmanwalking wrote:


EDIT: And even just arguing consequences...you're ignoring the obvious consequence of a bunch of dead children. That's...pretty hard to argue as not a profoundly and ridiculously Evil consequence.

I think the consequences pretty clearly weigh in favor of this being neutral. It is very likely that at least some of the orcs will grow up and go on to kill, probably in greater numbers. This really hinges more on the methods and intent.

If there is a nearby orc orphanage nearby and you just can't be arsed, that would be more Evil. But if you're way out in the country, taking on a bunch of orc orphans and trying to get them... somewhere... they would be welcome, and not grow up wanting to kill you and yours, would be a trick.

EDIT: Really the root of this issue is that the adult orcs are dead. Killing any orc, however evil and violent, could potentially be hurting young, innocent orc toddlers, who end up cold and with nothing to eat.

Liberty's Edge

First, RJGrady, I'd like to note that you didn't actually respond to the main point of my post. So...there's that.

RJGrady wrote:
I think the consequences pretty clearly weigh in favor of this being neutral. It is very likely that at least some of the orcs will grow up and go on to kill, probably in greater numbers. This really hinges more on the methods and intent.

No it isn't. Not if you raise 'em right. Or arrange for such to be done. Not much more likely than with a similar number of human children who're from a similar culture anyway.

Are you arguing we should kill the human children under the same circumstances?

RJGrady wrote:
If there is a nearby orc orphanage nearby and you just can't be arsed, that would be more Evil. But if you're way out in the country, taking on a bunch of orc orphans and trying to get them... somewhere... they would be welcome, and not grow up wanting to kill you and yours, would be a trick.

Eh. It's not that hard. Again, Sarenrae's a major deity in the setting. And if you're just too lazy to deal with taking them somewhere...then that right there is actually really Evil.

RJGrady wrote:
EDIT: Really the root of this issue is that the adult orcs are dead. Killing any orc, however evil and violent, could potentially be hurting young, innocent orc toddlers, who end up cold and with nothing to eat.

Sure. Same as killing any human could do the same. Which means you should generally avoid killing anyone unless it's really necessary for one reason or another.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

First, RJGrady, I'd like to note that you didn't actually respond to the main point of my post. So...there's that.

RJGrady wrote:
I think the consequences pretty clearly weigh in favor of this being neutral. It is very likely that at least some of the orcs will grow up and go on to kill, probably in greater numbers. This really hinges more on the methods and intent.

No it isn't. Not if you raise 'em right. Or arrange for such to be done. Not much more likely than with a similar number of human children who're from a similar culture anyway.

Are you arguing we should kill the human children under the same circumstances?

RJGrady wrote:
If there is a nearby orc orphanage nearby and you just can't be arsed, that would be more Evil. But if you're way out in the country, taking on a bunch of orc orphans and trying to get them... somewhere... they would be welcome, and not grow up wanting to kill you and yours, would be a trick.

Eh. It's not that hard. Again, Sarenrae's a major deity in the setting. And if you're just too lazy to deal with taking them somewhere...then that right there is actually really Evil.

RJGrady wrote:
EDIT: Really the root of this issue is that the adult orcs are dead. Killing any orc, however evil and violent, could potentially be hurting young, innocent orc toddlers, who end up cold and with nothing to eat.
Sure. Same as killing any human could do the same. Which means you should generally avoid killing anyone unless it's really necessary for one reason or another.

I would like to point out that if it "wasn't hard" and that the temples worked the way you say then wouldn't non-evil Human raised Orcs be significantly more common? I mean Humans and Orcs go to war all the time and War Orphans are a pretty common thing for both sides to deal with. I imagine Orcs have lots of kids considering the species isn't extinct and has made enemies of... all the playable species available.

Why is it that in APs, Modules, PFS scenarios, and Gazeteers we never hear about the "non-Evil Orcs at the Temple of Saerenrae?"


Deadmanwalking wrote:

First, RJGrady, I'd like to note that you didn't actually respond to the main point of my post. So...there's that.

Which is?

Quote:


Are you arguing we should kill the human children under the same circumstances?

I'm not arguing we should kill any children. Seriously, that is not even under discussion.

I'm saying that killing orc children in this scenario, where the alternative might be to transport them several days or even weeks journey, to an appropriate place to be raised, is not going to result in an inevitable slide into a CE, NE, or LE alignment. I think it's within the parameters of an act of selfish prudence. I think sufficient justification can be made that a Good character could do this occasionally and remain Good, with the understanding they would take pains to avoid being in this situation again in the future.

Killing orc toddlers will almost always violate the code of a Paladin and the religious precepts of many clerics. Probably not, however, cultural deities of the elves.

Liberty's Edge

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RJGrady wrote:
I think the consequences pretty clearly weigh in favor of this being neutral. It is very likely that at least some of the orcs will grow up and go on to kill, probably in greater numbers. This really hinges more on the methods and intent.

Just because something is pragmatic doesn't mean it isn't Evil. You could even argue that Evil is the most pragmatic alignment, not letting things like morality interfere with what has to be done for the greater good.

RJGrady wrote:
I'm saying that killing orc children in this scenario, where the alternative might be to transport them several days or even weeks journey, to an appropriate place to be raised, is not going to result in an inevitable slide into a CE, NE, or LE alignment. I think it's within the parameters of an act of selfish prudence. I think sufficient justification can be made that a Good character could do this occasionally and remain Good, with the understanding they would take pains to avoid being in this situation again in the future.

"I swear, my character's Good. I mean, every now and then he slaughters the innocent, but only when it's convenient. Those toddlers were probably gonna end up Evil anyway. What? What do you mean 'slaughters the innocent when it's convenient' is under 'Evil' in the rulebook?"


I would be willing to concede the possibility that James Jacobs never really thought about this and that's why we don't hear about these non-evil Orcs living among the peasantry in mostly harmony.

Anyway without these invisible Orcs you keep bring up there is an inconsolable rift between Golarian fluff and how you interpret alignments as it would indicate the usual procedure is to kill the toddlers in Golarian. A procedure that surely the supposed LG Saeranrae would oppose and get her Clerics/Paladins/Warpriests/Inquisitors to change or at least be there to pick up the Orc orphans.

Liberty's Edge

Insain Dragoon wrote:
I would like to point out that if it "wasn't hard" and that the temples worked the way you say then wouldn't non-evil Human raised Orcs be significantly more common? I mean Humans and Orcs go to war all the time and War Orphans are a pretty common thing for both sides to deal with. I imagine Orcs have lots of kids considering the species isn't extinct and has made enemies of... all the playable species available.

Sure...but in war, you have lots of soldiers on both sides. And some of them are Neutral, or Evil, and gonna commit atrocities...such as, in a racially based war, killing the children.

Very rarely do you wind up with small groups of actually Good people killing whole tribes of humanoids with children. Meaning these people are gonna be extremely uncommon.

Insain Dragoon wrote:
Why is it that in APs, Modules, PFS scenarios, and Gazeteers we never hear about the "non-Evil Orcs at the Temple of Saerenrae?"

Because any such groups are so small as to be insignificant.

RJGrady wrote:
Which is?

That certain acts have morality independent from the sum of their results and what motivated them.

RJGrady wrote:
I'm not arguing we should kill any children. Seriously, that is not even under discussion.

Okay, good. :)

RJGrady wrote:
I'm saying that killing orc children in this scenario, where the alternative might be to transport them several days or even weeks journey, to an appropriate place to be raised, is not going to result in an inevitable slide into a CE, NE, or LE alignment. I think it's within the parameters of an act of selfish prudence. I think sufficient justification can be made that a Good character could do this occasionally and remain Good, with the understanding they would take pains to avoid being in this situation again in the future.

I disagree with this. That's pretty much depraved indifference, there.

RJGrady wrote:
Killing orc toddlers will almost always violate the code of a Paladin and the religious precepts of many clerics. Probably not, however, cultural deities of the elves.

Uh...Elves and Orcs have no racial hatred in Golarion. Also, Good deities are not generally cool with child murder, even of racial enemies.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Werebat wrote:
Depends on whether they are Tolkien orcs or, say, Eberron orcs.

Very true. I don't even object to Tolkien's Orcs, which are created beings without any real defined life cycle.

Werebat wrote:
Of course, Warhammer orcs don't seem to have a childhood (or females), so the question is moot with them.

I'm not sure Tolkien's Orcs have those things either.

"Bolg, son of Azog"

Admittedly, that was in the Hobbit, which wasn't quite intended to by part of the Mythology at first.

It's certainly not clear that Tolkien's Orcs are created being without any real defined life cycle, though he definitely keeps any women and children off stage. Saruman has been crossing them with humans. In the movie, this was in pods or something, but how is not specified in the books.

Tolkien was never entirely clear on where orcs came from. There are some hints they were directly created by Morgoth, but there are clearer ones they were originally elves, probably Avari, corrupted by him.

This, and the implications of it, were a problem for him. Theologically, he wanted them to be wholly evil creations of Morgoth, but as such, they could have had no free will and would only move and act as extensions of him, much as the dwarves Aule created before Eru gave them true life. As a writer, he never wrote them that way: They quarrel, they fight, they act like people - evil nasty people, but still like people. If so, they have to be in the final reckoning creations of Eru - warped and corrupted, but nothing else could have given them that gift. Thus the corrupted elves (and/or men).


I think it's far more likely that JJ didn't anticipate this problem than because "because any such groups are so small as to be insignificant."

I'll reread my Inner Sea Gods chapter on Saerenrae later. If she really care about Orc children it would probably be in there. It might be in that Belkzen Campaign setting book, but I don't have that.

Liberty's Edge

Insain Dragoon wrote:
I would be willing to concede the possibility that James Jacobs never really thought about this and that's why we don't hear about these non-evil Orcs living among the peasantry in mostly harmony.

I'm pretty sure he has, and I addressed this above.

Insain Dragoon wrote:
Anyway without these invisible Orcs you keep bring up there is an inconsolable rift between Golarian fluff and how you interpret alignments as it would indicate the usual procedure is to kill the toddlers in Golarian. A procedure that surely the supposed LG Saeranrae would oppose and get her Clerics/Paladins/Warpriests/Inquisitors to change or at least be there to pick up the Orc orphans.

She's NG, actually. And her followers almost certainly try. However...Orcs are mostly devoted to Rovagug, who has a hatred for Sarenrae above all things, which is gonna make any followers of hers the very first target of all the Orcs everywhere when they fight. So...probably not the highest survival rate among those folks. Do they try anyway? Certainly...but doing so is gonna be tricky.


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Torag doesn't allow his Paladins to show mercy to racial enemies. Lawful Good baby killing. Attica Attica Attica!


I'm not saying that your interpretation is wrong as it most certainly makes sense DMW, it really does. I'm just saying that nothing I've ever seen in the campaign setting materials ever supports that viewpoint.

To me it looks like Saerenrae and other good deities say a lot of things, but don't actually support it with action. Like people who tell others to support starving children in Africa, but never put down a penny of their own money.

Liberty's Edge

DominusMegadeus wrote:
Torag doesn't allow his Paladins to show mercy to racial enemies. Lawful Good baby killing. Attica Attica Attica!

Children are 'enemies' now? Huh. Must've missed where that's said. Please cite where it says that.

Insain Dragoon wrote:
I'm not saying that your interpretation is wrong as it most certainly makes sense DMW, it really does. I'm just saying that nothing I've ever seen in the campaign setting materials ever supports that viewpoint.

I've seen several things that support the basic premise (that ther are Good and Neutral Orcs)...but there's only been on Orc book, and that was very much not that book's focus, I admit. On the other hand, the upcoming Belkzen book has a section of some sort written by Mikaze...so there might well be more textual evidence in the near future.

Insain Dragoon wrote:
To me it looks like Saerenrae and other good deities say a lot of things, but don't actually support it with action. Like people who tell others to support starving children in Africa, but never put down a penny of their own money.

Well, deities are pretty explicitly prevented from personally interfering in the world, leaving it to their (highly imperfect) mortal servitors to do so. So...that explains a lot of it.


Insain Dragoon wrote:
I would like to point out that if it "wasn't hard" and that the temples worked the way you say then wouldn't non-evil Human raised Orcs be significantly more common? I mean Humans and Orcs go to war all the time and War Orphans are a pretty common thing for both sides to deal with. I imagine Orcs have lots of kids considering the species isn't extinct and has made enemies of... all the playable species available.

In most wars, the entire adult populations aren't slaughtered. There are certainly Orc war orphans, but those are usually the result of parents slain in battle and are taken in and raised by other orcs - or left to die by those same Orcs. Which would be evil, but they're orcs and thus often evil anyway.

The same really should be true of adventurers. Kill the orcs that are causing trouble or at least enough of them that they can't cause to much more trouble and then leave them alone. Drive them out, make them move further away from the humans they've been bothering.

It's only in a very contrived situation that you actually have to kill all the adults, leaving only the children. Or if the players and/or the GM really are thinking of the Orcs as nothing but inhuman monsters (or really as nothing but stats for combat encounters), until they reach the room in the module where the children are mentioned.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
DominusMegadeus wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Werebat wrote:
What would be the alternative to killing the orclings? Leaving them be to starve to death or be eaten by wildlife? Bringing them to a city and letting them loose on the streets after the orphanage refuses to take in the "monsters"?
If you're a Good person with no other options?
If you're a Neutral person

Then this is a defining moment in that character's life.

If they've exhausted all other options other than raising them themselves or killing them, then taking them in to raise them themselves shunts them way towards Good...and killing them all the way down to Evil.

So it's impossible to be Neutral?

Assuming orcs have a reasonable chance to be decent people if raised properly, the Good act is, in fact, to raise them. But if the only other option is killing them, it can still be the option for someone who is Neutral; see canon:

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent (meaning they don't like to do it, but it doesn't say "prohibition"), but may lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others.

Talk about a sacrifice! Curtailing a great adventuring career to raise a member of a species that in PF it's totally reasonable to have a prejudice against? Neutrals "may lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others."

So, if it's relatively easy to get them to an orphanage who'll take them (again, presuming they reasonably might grow up okay if so) the Neutral person will get them to the orphanage. But the Neutral person probably will not choose to raise them himself.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Werebat wrote:
What would be the alternative to killing the orclings? Leaving them be to starve to death or be eaten by wildlife? Bringing them to a city and letting them loose on the streets after the orphanage refuses to take in the "monsters"?
If you're a Good person with no other options?

You don't kill all the adult orcs either. Unless your GM is being a jerk.

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