Killing Orcs toddlers is evil?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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RJGrady wrote:
PrinceRaven wrote:
Regardless of racial predisposition, you're still condemning an innocent creature to death for the crime of being born. According to the rulebook, even neutral characters have compunctions against killing the innocent, therefore it must be an Evil act.

Having compunctions doesn't mean you can't, or won't ever, do something. Good alignment requires you to respect life, it doesn't require you to defend it unconditionally. To put a fine point on it, there is no Good alignment problem with killing an adult orc who is participating in a war campaign against your village. It is simply prudence, and prudence is Neutral.

To say any particular killing is Evil, you have to be able to say that it is unjustifiably selfish.

Thank you for the voice of reason!


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PrinceRaven said wrote:

Let's go with the whole "99% of orcs are evil" thing. How many orcs would you say are on Golarion? 10 million? That's 100'000 non-evil orcs. Is that a fair amount to you? It seems like a lot to me. I'd also say that being raised in a good (or at least neutral) society would substantially improve the odds of them not being Evil. Even if they do end up Evil, do people have free reign to go around murdering everyone that detects as Evil?

You say that the lives of the many outweigh lives of the few, and that you should do whatever is necessary to protect them from theoretical dangers. I say that "the ends justify the means" is something an Evil character would say to justify murdering children. The fact remains that, according to the rulebook, killing the innocent is an Evil act.

Consider, the stance of 'save the Orc babies' amounts to protecting the theoretically innocent at the likely expense of many other, innocent lives. Theoreticals work, quite logically, in both directions.

Your point brings this question: there are innocent lives at stake in either theoretical, so how do you weigh which is more important? Can you say that the innocent, non-Orc lives are an acceptable piece of collateral wagered on the Orc becoming one of the 1% of non-killers? That is a moral judgement equal to that proposed by the 'euthanize the Orc infants' party. The equation does not change but for what you're willing to wager.

As such, it is not possible to formulate a stance without disregarding one of the parties in the equation. You either disregard the other races who have higher percentages of peaceful people for the ones that are known for brutal violence or vice versa.

And so I will ask again, is it worth the damage that will 99% of the time ensue to POSSIBLY save that 1%?

If each life measures equally, then it is illogical to state that one life is potentially worth dozens. It is an intellectual fallacy.

Besides, using the logic proposed earlier on these boards, albeit for a different reason, the player characters may not necessarily KNOW that there can be non-evil Orcs, unless they look at source material and metagame. All the actual characters have to go on is what they know in the world they exist in. Hence, if all one knows is that Orcs are evil creatures, how is it evil, on their part, to decide to cut the problem off at the root? No one protests cracking the eggs of chromatic dragons or, in the days of 3.X, poisoning Illithid tadpole pools. Why would it be any different?

Grand Lodge

DominusMegadeus wrote:

I'm glad we've come to an agreement here, or rather, discovered that we were both arguing the same thing after all.

The issue now becomes the orc babies, as usual. More than just 'what would a Good person do' (because we all know the answer is 'find them a home'), we have to ask ourselves 'what would a gaming group do?' You can make a good story out of it, but your entire previous campaign is now basically worthless, because you have to care for orc babies. The villagers the Orcs were raiding? Not gonna be too cool with that. Giving them to another Orc tribe is knowingly giving them to someone who will raise them Evil.

I always liked Sarenrae for this kind of stuff. Drop the babies off at one of her temples. The Clerics or Monks or Paladins do their best to raise them, and if it fails, they take the canonically Good path of brutally slaughtering irredeemable Evil. Praise The Sun.

Good idea.

Grand Lodge

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I see the issue is complicate and lacks a perfect answer.


Icyshadow wrote:
This thread is doing a great job at convincing me that the human alignment in D&D and Pathfinder is "usually Neutral Evil", considering the amount of people wanting to justify killing not just sentient beings but also innocent animals.

and vast swathes of the real world too

it would have been nice if this thread was a poll of 'yes, no, unsure' to get a general idea of the numbers


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It is simple... If you don't want to be a s!$*ty DM and torture your players with moral dilemmas don't have monster children.

Goblinoids hatch fully formed from something like frog spawn just a little smaller....

Orcs drop a clone from a cyst once or twice a year.

They are not human and monsters after all.

The core premise of the game is killing things and taking their stuff. If your players are after a fun filled game of murder and theft then don't be a dick DM and ruin the fun with moral dilemmas.

On the other hand if you want to wallow in a bitter soup of emo angst and guilt and that is what is fun for your players go for it moral dilemma the adventure as much as you want.


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The 8th Dwarf wrote:

It is simple... If you don't want to be a s#&$ty DM and torture your players with moral dilemmas don't have monster children.

Goblinoids hatch fully formed from something like frog spawn just a little smaller....

Orcs drop a clone from a cyst once or twice a year.

They are not human and monsters after all.

The core premise of the game is killing things and taking their stuff. If your players are after a fun filled game of murder and theft then don't be a dick DM and ruin the fun with moral dilemmas.

On the other hand if you want to wallow in a bitter soup of emo angst and guilt and that is what is fun for your players go for it moral dilemma the adventure as much as you want.

Or if you want your humanoids to be more nuanced, then don't set up contrived situations where it's a good thing to kill each and every adult, leaving you with the kids.

Fight raiding parties who don't bring kids with them.
Have a sizable number of non-combatants who surrender or flee and others who are willing to fight to protect home and family, but are also willing to negotiate and deal. You know, like actual people.

The problem comes in when you have races that behave like monsters with no redeeming features, but you insist that they aren't actually monsters with no redeeming features. I don't believe in cultures that make everyone (or even 99%) of a race evil. If races aren't innately evil, then they're going to have a wide range of culture and behavior within the culture.

Edit: Or just make them actually inhuman monsters and ignore the moral issues. They're only there to be killed anyway.
But frankly, if your players are after a "fun filled game of murder and theft", then their character probably aren't very good anyway, so it might all be moot.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

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.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The children/babies of "monster" is actually a common trope in fantasy where the hero finds a baby after killing its parents and end up taking care of said children/baby monster.

The thing is...don't rail road your players, sure let them kill the babies orcs, but what you should do, is simply make it have consequences.

They killed defenseless babies orcs? Maybe friends or cousins of the orc families, with their shaman calls the power of the gods and divination to see what happened before and then they go kill all the children and babies, even better if it is a close family of your heroes or friends. If you can have a situation where they hold a loved one hostage, have the orcs kill the hostage and tell them, that it is because, they have never shown mercy before.

Basically, with their acts, they simply closed possible storylines and interactions with other monsters, who would know that these "heroes" will never show mercy, as long as you are a monster.


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.

Assume just for a moment that orc babies grew up to be evil and violent 100% of the time, and that that was true regardless of the culture they were raised in.

It's pretty unrealistic, but suppose it were true in the universe in which a PF game took place. Why wouldn't it be good to kill them as babies to prevent them from taking lives as adults? Remember, for this example, it isn't even 99%. It's 100%.

If you were a human (or elf or dwarf or gnome or halfling) living in such a world, would you ever want an orc life, baby or not, spared?

My whole point that got me into the thread was to say that it depends on the metaphysics of the universe. Thejeff even at least somewhat agreed that in that case (or even a 99% case) it makes sense to kill orc babies, but that he'd rather play in a universe where it isn't a good thing or that dilemmas like that are not presented. Thejeff's view is fair, and if a fair number of orcs are not evil (or even not violent), it's wrong to kill orc babies.

But I really disagree with your statement. Even if you consider the babies innocent even if they're certain to become guilty, it's actually evil to let them live if that choice will result in more innocents dying. I think you need to reflect on your moral compass if you'd let an orc baby live if he will become an evil monster and kill probably 10 innocents if you don't kill him when you have the chance.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
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...

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

@Blackbloodtroll:

Greek heroes are not defined by good or evil tho. Greek Heroism is like God of War the game, it is all about epic deeds, Hercules was a horrible human being but was still considered a hero, not talking about the clean cut version of Disney. Kratos is definitely evil.

Just saying that Spartans were heroes in the ancient greece definition of heroes, but they were not good that's for sure.


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thejeff wrote:


Edit: Or just make them actually inhuman monsters and ignore the moral issues. They're only there to be killed anyway.
But frankly, if your players are after a "fun filled game of murder and theft", then their character probably aren't very good anyway, so it might all be moot.

Isn't that what I said...

99% of people in this thread have played characters that killed and looted.

Every game table top to electronic we play or a majority of movies we watch we revel in the violence and looting.

From Space opera, sword and sandal, pirate, western or war. It's all about committing acts of violence and taking land, loot or status.

People enjoy make believe and they enjoy being the group of heroes fighting against the odds even if you are blasting storm troopers, killing the English or Nazis or Martians.

On the other hand in a story or a game murdering your way through a bunch of infants is a dick move and its a dick move by a GM to put players in those situations. If you cut your way through an Orc lair in Neverwinter Nights you aren't put in that situation, Jack Sparrow doesn't murder his way through a ship full of women and children and so on

That's not what players want... GMs on power trips want that s%+~ so they can torture players.

I ask at the beginning of a game is this going to be a fun romp or an angst filled emotionally exhausting grind. If it's the type of game where I am going to be depressed at the end then I walk.

I have done the woe is me crap back in my old WOD days... I am well and truly over being a "serious role player".

I am in a game to get the Robin Hood, James Bond, Han Solo, Luke, Spider-Man experience not the Hannibal Lecter, Dexter experience and any GM who puts that crap in my game will cop an ear full of uncensored discussion of what a dick he or she is.


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Eltacolibre wrote:

@Blackbloodtroll:

Greek heroes are not defined by good or evil tho. Greek Heroism is like God of War the game, it is all about epic deeds, Hercules was a horrible human being but was still considered a hero, not talking about the clean cut version of Disney. Kratos is definitely evil.

Just saying that Spartans were heroes in the ancient greece definition of heroes, but they were not good that's for sure.

Heracles was driven mad by the Goddess Hera forcing him to murder his own children and then he not Hera had to atone by doing the 12 Labours...

Hmmm all powerful being makes hero murder children.... Hera was a dick GM.


I think throwing moral quandaries in is interesting in fiction, including RPG's, though this one might have been somewhat cliched. Characters arguing with one another about what's right is interesting.

This debate has been interesting. If it hadn't been, I wouldn't have participated, though I'm bothered, once we got past the issue of comparing PF "races" to human races, that as many people still have taken the side of "evil beings have a right to exist, regardless of whether they have a chance to be good or not" as have.


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The 8th Dwarf wrote:
thejeff wrote:


Edit: Or just make them actually inhuman monsters and ignore the moral issues. They're only there to be killed anyway.
But frankly, if your players are after a "fun filled game of murder and theft", then their character probably aren't very good anyway, so it might all be moot.

Isn't that what I said...

99% of people in this thread have played characters that killed and looted.

Every game table top to electronic we play or a majority of movies we watch we revel in the violence and looting.

From Space opera, sword and sandal, pirate, western or war. It's all about committing acts of violence and taking land, loot or status.

People enjoy make believe and they enjoy being the group of heroes fighting against the odds even if you are blasting storm troopers, killing the English or Nazis or Martians.

On the other hand in a story or a game murdering your way through a bunch of infants is a dick move and its a dick move by a GM to put players in those situations. If you cut your way through an Orc lair in Neverwinter Nights you aren't put in that situation, Jack Sparrow doesn't murder his way through a ship full of women and children and so on

That's not what players want... GMs on power trips want that s@!% so they can torture players.

I ask at the beginning of a game is this going to be a fun romp or an angst filled emotionally exhausting grind. If it's the type of game where I am going to be depressed at the end then I walk.

I have done the woe is me crap back in my old WOD days... I am well and truly over being a "serious role player".

I am in a game to get the Robin Hood, James Bond, Han Solo, Luke, Spider-Man experience not the Hannibal Lecter, Dexter experience and any GM who puts that crap in my game will cop an ear full of uncensored discussion of what a dick he or she is.

I like a little more moral complexity.

I don't like the "There's an orc lair, let's kill them and take their stuff" approach. The Kill the Orcs, just because they're Orcs version. In my game, if you're doing that, you're the bad guys and you will quickly be put in the position of seeing sharp moral contrast, as the orcs heroically sacrifice themselves trying to save their families.

Hunting down the orcs who've been attacking your village and stopping them is a different story. Preferably it's one that's going to end with figuring out why the orcs have started attacking and dealing with that issue, not just slaughtering all the orcs. Maybe a new aggressive leader has taken over and you can depose him. Maybe they've been driven into your area by a worse evil and you can help them beat that and return home.
All sorts of complexity.

If the only moral dilemma you can come up with is "Do we kill the babies", that's sort of a low standard.

Liberty's Edge

What confuses me is why "Do we kill the babies?" is a moral dilemma at all. Either these are innocent Pathfinder orcs that are intelligent enough to understand morality and make their own moral choices, or they're macro-cellular viruses incapable of feeling anything but bloodlust that just happen to look like Pathfinder orcs. Either way the decision of what to do is very clear for any non-evil party.

As for why there are orc children there in the first place, it's an orc village, of course there's going to be orc children. Orcs don't just pop out of the ground fully-formed.

RJGrady wrote:

Having compunctions doesn't mean you can't, or won't ever, do something. Good alignment requires you to respect life, it doesn't require you to defend it unconditionally. To put a fine point on it, there is no Good alignment problem with killing an adult orc who is participating in a war campaign against your village. It is simply prudence, and prudence is Neutral.

To say any particular killing is Evil, you have to be able to say that it is unjustifiably selfish.

Except we're not talking about an orc participating in a war campaign or any other extenuating circumstances. We're talking about a party going full murderhobo on a village and slaughtering some toddlers. If you won't stop at slaughtering toddlers where does your compunction against killing innocent life come in to play?

Champion_of_the_Blessed wrote:

Consider, the stance of 'save the Orc babies' amounts to protecting the theoretically innocent at the likely expense of many other, innocent lives. Theoreticals work, quite logically, in both directions.

Your point brings this question: there are innocent lives at stake in either theoretical, so how do you weigh which is more important? Can you say that the innocent, non-Orc lives are an acceptable piece of collateral wagered on the Orc becoming one of the 1% of non-killers? That is a moral judgement equal to that proposed by the 'euthanize the Orc infants' party. The equation does not change but for what you're willing to wager.

I'm not saying letting the toddlers live is guaranteed to end up being a net positive. Giving the racial prejudice they're likely to encounter it's quite likely they'd fall in with a bad crowd regardless of any predisposition towards Evil. What I'm saying is that, no matter for which noble cause you slaughtered the toddlers for, you still slaughtered some toddlers and that's an Evil act.


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This would have been a whole different story if the Orc mothers killed their own children before the barbarian could get to them, instead of leaving them to him to kill or pervert with his wholesome goodness. It might be a horror story orc women tell their children. "Behave, or the Paladins will take you away to an orphanage and make you wear clothes and bathe."
Its how you tell the story.

Stop humanizing the orcs, they are fabricated evil monsters. Maybe in orc culture its survival of the fittest, and the children are off and running from birth like sharks.


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PrinceRaven wrote:

What confuses me is why "Do we kill the babies?" is a moral dilemma at all. Either these are innocent Pathfinder orcs that are intelligent enough to understand morality and make their own moral choices, or they're macro-cellular viruses incapable of feeling anything but bloodlust that just happen to look like Pathfinder orcs. Either way the decision of what to do is very clear for any non-evil party.

As for why there are orc children there in the first place, it's an orc village, of course there's going to be orc children. Orcs don't just pop out of the ground fully-formed.

RJGrady wrote:

Having compunctions doesn't mean you can't, or won't ever, do something. Good alignment requires you to respect life, it doesn't require you to defend it unconditionally. To put a fine point on it, there is no Good alignment problem with killing an adult orc who is participating in a war campaign against your village. It is simply prudence, and prudence is Neutral.

To say any particular killing is Evil, you have to be able to say that it is unjustifiably selfish.

Except we're not talking about an orc participating in a war campaign or any other extenuating circumstances. We're talking about a party going full murderhobo on a village and slaughtering some toddlers. If you won't stop at slaughtering toddlers where does your compunction against killing innocent life come in to play?

I think it probably should have come into play when you went full murderhobo on the village. If it doesn't, maybe it's not surprise that the toddlers don't slow you down.

Unless the GM goes out of his way to create circumstances that justify killing all the adults. No non-combatants. None trying to flee with the kids. None willing to surrender. When you portray all orcs as fanatic monsters fighting to the death, it's not surprising players treat them that way.

It's not hard to either fill the orcs with more nuance, so that it's obvious it's evil to kill the kids or to just make it clear they're nothing but evil monsters and skip the whole dilemma.


PrinceRaven wrote:
What I'm saying is that, no matter for which noble cause you slaughtered the toddlers for, you still slaughtered some toddlers and that's an Evil act.

That's just plain wrong.

Things are right or wrong, good or evil, because of the foreseeable consequences of the act. If in balance they saved innocent lives, or at least as far as they knew they were saving more innocent lives than they took, they did the good thing. End of story.


Heimdall666 wrote:

This would have been a whole different story if the Orc mothers killed their own children before the barbarian could get to them, instead of leaving them to him to kill or pervert with his wholesome goodness. It might be a horror story orc women tell their children. "Behave, or the Paladins will take you away to an orphanage and make you wear clothes and bathe."

Its how you tell the story.

Stop humanizing the orcs, they are fabricated evil monsters. Maybe in orc culture its survival of the fittest, and the children are off and running from birth like sharks.

And if all of them are evil, irredeemable monsters, then they'd quite likely be rendered extinct rather quickly. That is, unless the people in your setting are all stupid. Civilizations built on evil cannot sustain themselves for very long, especially not when they are all Chaotic Evil and have no loyalty to anyone (not even their own race or family) but themselves.

My suspension of disbelief has limits, you know.


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Eltacolibre wrote:

@Blackbloodtroll:

Greek heroes are not defined by good or evil tho. Greek Heroism is like God of War the game, it is all about epic deeds, Hercules was a horrible human being but was still considered a hero, not talking about the clean cut version of Disney. Kratos is definitely evil.

Just saying that Spartans were heroes in the ancient greece definition of heroes, but they were not good that's for sure.

Oh wait, morality is subjective over time and culture? Who would have imagined that.


Icyshadow wrote:
Heimdall666 wrote:

This would have been a whole different story if the Orc mothers killed their own children before the barbarian could get to them, instead of leaving them to him to kill or pervert with his wholesome goodness. It might be a horror story orc women tell their children. "Behave, or the Paladins will take you away to an orphanage and make you wear clothes and bathe."

Its how you tell the story.

Stop humanizing the orcs, they are fabricated evil monsters. Maybe in orc culture its survival of the fittest, and the children are off and running from birth like sharks.

And if all of them are evil, irredeemable monsters, then they'd quite likely be rendered extinct rather quickly. That is, unless the people in your setting are all stupid. Civilizations built on evil cannot sustain themselves for very long, especially not when they are all Chaotic Evil and have no loyalty to anyone (not even their own race or family) but themselves.

My suspension of disbelief has limits, you know.

Not if there's a source for them. Or some other power behind them. It's even possible they just reproduce quickly enough that if it wasn't for the Chaotic Evil falling apart and fighting amongst themselves thing, they would have slaughtered everyone else long ago.

Still, basically "all evil irredeemable monsters" requires "because magic" or just a lack of interest in the larger scale consequences or moral issues because we're just here to kill the bad guys.


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Claxon wrote:
Eltacolibre wrote:

@Blackbloodtroll:

Greek heroes are not defined by good or evil tho. Greek Heroism is like God of War the game, it is all about epic deeds, Hercules was a horrible human being but was still considered a hero, not talking about the clean cut version of Disney. Kratos is definitely evil.

Just saying that Spartans were heroes in the ancient greece definition of heroes, but they were not good that's for sure.

Oh wait, morality is subjective over time and culture? Who would have imagined that.

Not in Pathfinder it isn't.


Heimdall666 wrote:

This would have been a whole different story if the Orc mothers killed their own children before the barbarian could get to them, instead of leaving them to him to kill or pervert with his wholesome goodness. It might be a horror story orc women tell their children. "Behave, or the Paladins will take you away to an orphanage and make you wear clothes and bathe."

Its how you tell the story.

Stop humanizing the orcs, they are fabricated evil monsters. Maybe in orc culture its survival of the fittest, and the children are off and running from birth like sharks.

Or just possibly, if the orc mothers are willing to kill their own children rather than let the humans take them, that says more about how they expect the humans to treat those children than about how evil the orcs are.

Do the barbarian mothers kill their children rather than let the orcs take them away?


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Icyshadow wrote:
Heimdall666 wrote:

This would have been a whole different story if the Orc mothers killed their own children before the barbarian could get to them, instead of leaving them to him to kill or pervert with his wholesome goodness. It might be a horror story orc women tell their children. "Behave, or the Paladins will take you away to an orphanage and make you wear clothes and bathe."

Its how you tell the story.

Stop humanizing the orcs, they are fabricated evil monsters. Maybe in orc culture its survival of the fittest, and the children are off and running from birth like sharks.

And if all of them are evil, irredeemable monsters, then they'd quite likely be rendered extinct rather quickly. That is, unless the people in your setting are all stupid. Civilizations built on evil cannot sustain themselves for very long, especially not when they are all Chaotic Evil and have no loyalty to anyone (not even their own race or family) but themselves.

My suspension of disbelief has limits, you know.

The Aboleth's of Pathfinder are pretty much exactly as you describe. However their culture persisted until they basically wiped themselves out, by accident.

thejeff wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Eltacolibre wrote:

@Blackbloodtroll:

Greek heroes are not defined by good or evil tho. Greek Heroism is like God of War the game, it is all about epic deeds, Hercules was a horrible human being but was still considered a hero, not talking about the clean cut version of Disney. Kratos is definitely evil.

Just saying that Spartans were heroes in the ancient greece definition of heroes, but they were not good that's for sure.

Oh wait, morality is subjective over time and culture? Who would have imagined that.
Not in Pathfinder it isn't.

And thats the problem, people are attempting to apply real world morality to Pathfinder. Which actually has markedly different moral systems than our real world.

Liberty's Edge

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Oly wrote:
I do believe that eradicating evil is good unless you get to the point of killing the nonviolent and the like, and that sociopaths (maybe not all with ASPD) lack the ability (or desire) to be anything other than evil.

That really depends on the sociopath, doesn't it? People can choose to go against their nature, if they decide to. Or be raised to do so.

Either or both could result in a sociopath who, while not inherently empathetic or moral, is a perfectly nice person to those they meet to the extent that nobody knows they're a sociopath and nobody gets meaningfully hurt.

RJGrady wrote:

Having compunctions doesn't mean you can't, or won't ever, do something. Good alignment requires you to respect life, it doesn't require you to defend it unconditionally. To put a fine point on it, there is no Good alignment problem with killing an adult orc who is participating in a war campaign against your village. It is simply prudence, and prudence is Neutral.

To say any particular killing is Evil, you have to be able to say that it is unjustifiably selfish.

Selfishness and Evil often go hand in hand, but they aren't the same. Someone who commits genocide of a particular population of their own race they are prejudiced against to 'make the world a better place' and legitimately believes that it will indeed make the world a better place, is Evil...no matter how selfless his desire to improve the world.

Look at the Operative from Serenity. He's absolutely selfless and simply trying to make the world a better place...yet he murders innocent children in this pursuit, among other atrocities, and is thus Evil.

Oly wrote:
PrinceRaven wrote:
What I'm saying is that, no matter for which noble cause you slaughtered the toddlers for, you still slaughtered some toddlers and that's an Evil act.

That's just plain wrong.

Things are right or wrong, good or evil, because of the foreseeable consequences of the act. If in balance they saved innocent lives, or at least as far as they knew they were saving more innocent lives than they took, they did the good thing. End of story.

No. The ends do not universally justify the means. Torturing, say, five people to death is not justified if it saves the lives of six. Morality is not arithmetic. Some acts are simply unacceptable, and always an Evil act. Torture, rape, the murder or abuse of children...these things are utterly unacceptable, and should not be encouraged or allowed no matter what benefits they bring.

Certainly, consequences and motivations can make an otherwise Evil act somewhat less Evil...but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the act matters at least as much.

Check out The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas...that's not a Good society. It's debatably not Evil (though I'd be inclined to say it is), but it's certainly not Good.


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Oly wrote:
PrinceRaven wrote:
What I'm saying is that, no matter for which noble cause you slaughtered the toddlers for, you still slaughtered some toddlers and that's an Evil act.

That's just plain wrong.

Things are right or wrong, good or evil, because of the foreseeable consequences of the act. If in balance they saved innocent lives, or at least as far as they knew they were saving more innocent lives than they took, they did the good thing. End of story.

But that gets into a "The Ends Justify the Means", which is probably one of the biggest tropes in villain motivation out there. Plenty of people committed atrocities believing they were making the world a better place.

Paizo Glitterati Robot

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Removed a couple posts. Let's leave comments surrounding heated current events out of threads discussing game content. Also, some of these comments on veering towards a path we're not at all comfortable with facilitating. Leave graphic and methodical comments about killing children off of paizo.com.


RJGrady wrote:
PrinceRaven wrote:
Regardless of racial predisposition, you're still condemning an innocent creature to death for the crime of being born. According to the rulebook, even neutral characters have compunctions against killing the innocent, therefore it must be an Evil act.

Having compunctions doesn't mean you can't, or won't ever, do something. Good alignment requires you to respect life, it doesn't require you to defend it unconditionally. To put a fine point on it, there is no Good alignment problem with killing an adult orc who is participating in a war campaign against your village. It is simply prudence, and prudence is Neutral.

To say any particular killing is Evil, you have to be able to say that it is unjustifiably selfish.

There is a difference between killing an Orc that starting a war and killing people than killing one that has done nothing but be born.


MMCJawa wrote:
Oly wrote:
PrinceRaven wrote:
What I'm saying is that, no matter for which noble cause you slaughtered the toddlers for, you still slaughtered some toddlers and that's an Evil act.

That's just plain wrong.

Things are right or wrong, good or evil, because of the foreseeable consequences of the act. If in balance they saved innocent lives, or at least as far as they knew they were saving more innocent lives than they took, they did the good thing. End of story.

But that gets into a "The Ends Justify the Means", which is probably one of the biggest tropes in villain motivation out there. Plenty of people committed atrocities believing they were making the world a better place.

Which, by the way, can be a very fun character to play with. Not on the world conquering villain scale, but on the adventuring "The stakes are so high, anything is justifiable" scale. The key to doing it well is for the character to know what he's doing and accept that he's damning himself for the higher cause - and preferably to not be able to live up to that standard and be guilty for those human lapses. You know, the ones where he doesn't kill the babies.


Heimdall666 wrote:

This would have been a whole different story if the Orc mothers killed their own children before the barbarian could get to them, instead of leaving them to him to kill or pervert with his wholesome goodness. It might be a horror story orc women tell their children. "Behave, or the Paladins will take you away to an orphanage and make you wear clothes and bathe."

Its how you tell the story.

Stop humanizing the orcs, they are fabricated evil monsters. Maybe in orc culture its survival of the fittest, and the children are off and running from birth like sharks.

Orc: Humanoid(Orc) it's kinda hard not to humanize something that is a humanoid. They are not evil monsters they have a choice to be good or evil just like humans/elves/gnomes/dwarfs/etc. do, they are not born evil and can only be evil they have a choice.

You can say the same thing about the Orc culture that you shown and apply it to Human Barbarian tribes; would it be good to kill all of the Human babies then?


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.

This.

(But, yeah - it depends on the metaphysics of the game world. This is yet another place where 3.x did it better than PF - if using 3.x defaults, orcs are "often CE", a step below "usually" and certainly not "always".)

Sovereign Court

Icyshadow wrote:

And if all of them are evil, irredeemable monsters, then they'd quite likely be rendered extinct rather quickly. That is, unless the people in your setting are all stupid. Civilizations built on evil cannot sustain themselves for very long, especially not when they are all Chaotic Evil and have no loyalty to anyone (not even their own race or family) but themselves.

My suspension of disbelief has limits, you know.

It works in Warhammer Fantasy & 40k, but that's because orcs & orks don't have a normal ecology. They don't have families, or even genders for that matter.

And other species do try to wipe them out - but once they're in an area for long they're nearly impossible to get rid of as they let off spores etc.

And in that world you are definitely justified in killing every one that you can find. But... they don't have babies, so the OP query is moot.

Though I agree that - if orcs breed etc basically like humans, being nothing but rampaging psychos would lead to them becoming extinct pretty quick. (The whole Tolkien world of them really makes no sense.)


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In short, it depends on your interpretation of Orcs and evil cratures. If they're evil because they're taught to be evil, then you're not justified in murdering them.

If they're evil because it's something ingrained in their existence that they cannot avoid, then you're justified in murdering them.

Plain and simple.

As well, which version you choose depends heavily on the group, as some groups and GMs will enjoy the first option, while the second option would be fun for another group.

Overall, if you're uncomfortable with this sort of debate, try talking with your players or GM and figure out how the group wants to handle it. If you're the GM and you want to continue running the campaign, and your players don't want to deal witih this sort of idea, simply avoid putting them in situations where there are these moral dilemmas.

(Also, it's not as if we have this topic every few weeks anyways...)


say a company is taking over the company you're working for.this company has found in recent studies that 9 out of 10 employees steal from their workplace. So this company has decided to just fire all of the employees. Doing this is for the greater good of the company. So although you have never stolen from your company you get fired and everytime you try to get a job, it comes out that you were fired for stealing. You are never hired again. You try starting your own company, but it failed because your "dishonest".

It really sucks for you doesn't it.


Rogar Stonebow wrote:

say a company is taking over the company you're working for.this company has found in recent studies that 9 out of 10 employees steal from their workplace. So this company has decided to just fire all of the employees. Doing this is for the greater good of the company. So although you have never stolen from your company you get fired and everytime you try to get a job, it comes out that you were fired for stealing. You are never hired again. You try starting your own company, but it failed because your "dishonest".

It really sucks for you doesn't it.

I find work as Rogue. Being dishonest is a golden star on my resume.


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RogarStonebow wrote:

say a company is taking over the company you're working for.this company has found in recent studies that 9 out of 10 employees steal from their workplace. So this company has decided to just fire all of the employees. Doing this is for the greater good of the company. So although you have never stolen from your company you get fired and everytime you try to get a job, it comes out that you were fired for stealing. You are never hired again. You try starting your own company, but it failed because your "dishonest".

It really sucks for you doesn't it.

It would, but this scenario is not equal in weight with respect to the current discussion. All the company stands to lose is material goods, which are easily replaceable in most circumstances. In the case of raising Orcs and hoping they curb their natural bloodlust, there is much direr consequences if the extreme option is not implemented, because there would be multiple lives lost.

And again, if each life is worth an equal amount, is it not illogical to potentially sacrifice many for the sake of one, out of some hope that they will be one of the anomalies that turn out to not be murdering savages?

You cannot make a logical decision based on rarely-occurring anomalies, plain and simple. I feel that 'save the Orc/Goblin/whatever evil Monstrous Humanoid babies' is more of an emotional knee-jerk reaction than the product of a pragmatic view of what will bring the greater good.

Even the very description of Orcs is, according to the canon:

Pathfinder Canon #1 wrote:
"Orcs are aggressive, callous, and domineering. Bullies by nature, they respect strength and power as the highest virtues. On an almost instinctive level, orcs believe they are entitled to anything they want unless someone stronger can stop them from seizing it. They rarely exert themselves off the battlefield except when forced to do so; this attitude stems not just from laziness but also from an ingrained belief that work should trickle down through the pecking order until it falls upon the shoulders of the weak. They take slaves from other races, orc men brutalize orc women, and both abuse children and elders, on the grounds that anyone too feeble to fight back deserves little more than a life of suffering. Surrounded at all times by bitter enemies, orcs cultivate an attitude of indifference to pain, vicious tempers, and a fierce willingness to commit unspeakable acts of vengeance against anyone who dares to defy them."
Pathfinder Canon #2 wrote:
"Society: Orcs usually live amid squalor and constant mayhem, and intimidation and brutal violence are the glue that holds orc culture together. They settle disputes by making increasingly grisly threats until, when a rival fails to back down, the conflict escalates into actual bloodshed. Orcs who win these ferocious brawls not only feel free to take whatever they want from the loser, but also frequently indulge in humiliating physical violation, casual mutilation, and even outright murder. Orcs rarely spend much time improving their homes or belongings since doing so merely encourages a stronger orc to seize them. In fact, whenever possible, they prefer to occupy buildings and communities originally built by other races."
Pathfinder Canon #3 wrote:

"Relations: Orcs admire strength above all things. Even members of enemy races can sometimes win an orc's grudging respect, or at least tolerance, if they break his nose enough times.

Orcs regard dwarves and elves with an odd mix of fierce hatred, sullen resentment, and a trace of wariness. They respect power, and, on some level, understand that these two races have kept them at bay for countless ages. Though they never miss a chance to torment a dwarf or elf who falls into their clutches, they tend to proceed cautiously unless certain of victory. Orcs dismiss halflings and gnomes as weaklings barely worth the trouble of enslaving. They often regard half-elves, who appear less threatening than full-blooded elves but have many elven features, as particularly appealing targets. Orcs view humans as race of sheep with a few wolves living in their midst. They freely kill or oppress humans too weak to fend them off but always keep one eye on the nearest exit in case they run into a formidable human.

Orcs look upon half-orcs with a strange mixture of contempt, envy, and pride. Though weaker than typical orcs, these half-breeds are also usually smarter, more cunning, and better leaders. Tribes led, or at least advised, by half-orcs are often more successful than those led by pure-blooded orcs. On a more fundamental level, orcs believe each half-orc also represents an orc exerting dominance over a weaker race."

Pathfinder Canon #4 wrote:
"Alignment and Religion: Orcs have few redeeming qualities. Most are violent, cruel, and selfish. Concepts such as honor or loyalty usually strike them as odd character flaws that tend to afflict members of the weaker races. Orcs are typically not just evil, but chaotic to boot, though those with greater self-control may gravitate toward lawful evil. Orcs pray to gods of fire, war, and blood, often creating tribal “pantheons” by combining these aspects into uniquely orc concepts."
Pathfinder Canon #5 wrote:
"Adventurers: Orcs usually leave their tribes only after losing out in a power struggle. Facing humiliation, slavery, or even death at the hands of their own kind, they opt instead to live and work with members of other races. Orcs who fail to rein in their tempers and the instinctive drive to dominate rarely last long once they strike out on their own. Though orcs who do manage to get by in other societies often enjoy the luxuries and comforts these societies can deliver, they still tend to dream of returning home, seizing power, and taking revenge."

Need more evidence from Pathfinder canon?

The way that Orcs are described, by the almighty canon, sounds quite like 'evil by nature', does it not? No different then than demons. Demons can choose to not do evil, as is the case with a certain demon in a certain Paizo AP, but they still choose to. Does that mean never strike down a demon? Does that mean never destroy hordes of Abyssal Larvae, because they are, in essence, 'demon babies'? Evil is evil, whether in the form of child or adult, man or beast, incarnate or formless.

EDIT: The quoted material is drawn from the Advanced Race Guide by Paizo, page 186, if my eiditic memory recalls correctly. It's the very first page on Orcs. If you do not have the ARG, you can find the spread on Orcs HERE.

EDIT 2: Given that the ARG was written years after the fluff of Orcs was written for Pathfinder, it is apparent that they were intended to be as they are written. Given this fact, it is not logical to believe that the majority of Orcs can be anything other than evil savages.

Liberty's Edge

The descriptions in the ARG describe stereotypes and 'typical behavior' not some unbreakable set of rules that the species in question cannot break.

To quote a few other Race descriptions:

Half Orcs wrote:
Half-orcs have a much more mixed experience in human society, where many cultures view them as little more than monsters. They often are unable even to get normal work, and are pressed into service in the military or sold into slavery. In these cultures, half-orcs often lead furtive lives, hiding their nature whenever possible. The dark underworld of society is often the most welcoming place, and many half-orcs wind up serving as enforcers for thieves guilds or other types of organized crime.

So...Humans are almost all really racist. Check.

Elves wrote:
Elves have difficulty accepting crossbreeds of any sort, however, and usually disown such offspring. They similarly regard half-orcs with distrust and suspicion, assuming they possess the worst aspects of orc and human personalities.

And so are Elves. Nice to know.

Humans wrote:
Proud, sometimes to the point of arrogance, humans might look upon dwarves as miserly drunkards, elves as flighty fops, halflings as craven thieves, gnomes as twisted maniacs, and half-elves and half-orcs as embarrassments

Okay, yep, Humans are pretty much all really racist.

Dhampir wrote:
As dhampirs are scions of evil, few races view them favorably. They share an affinity for those half-breeds whose sinister ancestry also sets them apart from human society, particularly tieflings and half-orcs. Humans view them with a combination of fear and pity, though such feelings often devolve into hatred and violence. Other humanoid races, such as dwarves, elves, and halflings, simply shun them. Similarly, dhampirs bear a deep-seeded loathing for living creatures, their hatred planted by jealousy and fed by frustration.

And everyone hates Dhampirs, while they hate everyone back! Clearly they need to be exterminated for the good of us all.

See the problem with reading too much into the ARG's race descriptions, now?


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Doesn't really matter. Pick one and run with it. Just make sure your players are on the same page, before you go throwing contrived moral dilemmas at them.

The only thing worse that arguing over contrived moral dilemmas is arguing over them because of assumption clash about what the actual facts are.


Again, it depends on whether you believe that evil is inherent. I believe there are these "monster orphanages" in Golarion's canon, and even if there aren't the idea is supported by Saranrae at the very least.

It also depends on what you believe influences this behaviour. Taking the canon entries you've cited into account:

Entry #1: I find it significant that they use the words "ingrained" and "cultivate". It implies that this is something produced by society rather than being inherent. As well, it also states "almost instinctive" rather than simply "instinctive". If it was simply "instinctive", then I'd be more on your side, but I feel the addition of the word "simply" makes it more questionable whether it's inherent or not.

Entry #2: The use of the word "usually" implies that the description of their society is a typical example. While this could be birthed from an inherent evil, it's much more likely a taught example.

Entry #3: This one is the most questionable. I believe that this is also just an example of typical behaviour, but this is the most ambiguous one.

Entry #4: Again, the word "Most" gives this an implication that this may be developed. Though, you could make an argument that an atypical example is some sort of mutation or some such, but the "most" implies that it has a fair amount of exceptions.

Entry #5: This one is the closest one to imply a sort of evil inherent in them, referring to an "inherent drive to dominate". That's the closest it gets to implying that they are inherently evil, and even this drive can potentially be harnessed for good or neutral purposes.

EDIT: TL;DR: These references refer mostly to a typical example of the race, raised in their standard society. It does not cover all possibilities of their race, and thus should be referenced as a standard example rather than a rule.


Deadmanwalking, that would be true were it not for these facts, which I will bold for emphasis.

ARG wrote:
"Bullies by nature... and On an almost instinctive level..."

'By nature' implies that there is no variance unless there is some sort of difference in their underlying personality which is not present in the majority of the species. Same with 'on an almost instinctive level'.

So, while I understand your point that the ARG paints the races in archetypal formats, the wording of the Orc descriptions implies that the traits they have are more concrete than just a generality. It implies that those are ingrained traits in each Orc as a rule. Again, any 'good' Orc is an anomaly which does not normally exist within the fantasy world except by an accident, much the same as a redeemed demon or a repentant chromatic dragon.

Surely that makes it easier to understand? It's like MTG, you need to read how it is WRITTEN. Example: a card that says 'Scry 2, then draw 3 cards' is different from a card that reads 'Scry 2, you may then draw up to 3 cards'.

Apart from these things, how do the people in the campaign world KNOW that there are non-evil Orcs? Again, players and GMs have to metagame to assume that the PCs know that Orcs are anything other than evil.

Liberty's Edge

I'd like to point that an orc simply being Evil isn't (or at least shouldn't be) justification for killing them. Sure, orcs may be aggressive bullies by nature, but I'm sure you've met people like that in real life and I doubt you'd feel they deserve to be executed for it.


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PrinceRaven, again, you make parallels to real life. Pathfinder is not real life.

Also, most people are not evil by default. Orcs, by default, are.

Next, people will say that you can't crack red dragon eggs or destroy Neh-Thalguu hatchlings, because they're all the 'innocent' children of sentient races! I am being facetious, of course, but that is what these arguments are beginning to sound like.

Please take a moment to look at the situation logically.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

These arguments are silly!
I like to think that not a single person on these boards or playing the game is themselves capable of taking another life in real life.
but i guess if you all like your Merry-Go-Round:-)


Do Orcs have an intelligence score? Yes.

Are Orcs Sentient? Yes.

Do Orcs have a choice to be Good or Evil? Yes especially considering the last two questions.


Dread Knight, the same could be said of most villanous creatures. Do Balors have those things? Yes. Do Neh-Thalguu have those things? Yes.

Again, look at it logically.

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