What is Good and what is not


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Hi all, i was playing with my party yesterday, i'm not an expert player. I have a question for you all: can good characters kill for their ideals of freedom and still be good?
Is a particular situation, the fight was ended, and the guards of the dictatorship were unconscious. The rebel can't let them alive, this makes them automatically not good? A good character can kill enemies only in a fight?
Sorry for my bad english guys, and thanks a lot.


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My general philosophy on the game function of alignment is that the purpose of alignment is to get players to think about how their characters internally justify their actions or motivations. If you're stopping to think "wait, is this good?" and you're able to come up with a justification, then you should be all right.

The purpose of having "Good" on your character sheet is to get you to ask that question, not to punish you if you step out of line. Just due to the nature of the game, a lot of people the party runs into are going to end up dead, and context is going to be the deciding factor on "is this okay?".


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For game purposes, "Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others."

Note that respect for life is not the same thing as being unwilling to kill. Many good characters are perfectly content with killing monsters, or people who attack them and refuse to give up - but they are also likely to search for non-lethal solutions when it's reasonable to do so, such as asking a wounded enemy to stop fighting.

Good characters can kill outside of a fight, but will typically only do so with a compelling reason ("they're dangerous to innocent people and it would be very hard to stop them otherwise", for example).

Basically, it's up to your group to decide for yourselves. ^^ The best person to talk to about alignment for YOUR games is your GM.


Masfiq wrote:

Hi all, i was playing with my party yesterday, i'm not an expert player. I have a question for you all: can good characters kill for their ideals of freedom and still be good?

Is a particular situation, the fight was ended, and the guards of the dictatorship were unconscious. The rebel can't let them alive, this makes them automatically not good? A good character can kill enemies only in a fight?
Sorry for my bad english guys, and thanks a lot.

Is there a reason the rebels needed to kill them after knocking them out? If it was about leaving evidence of their presence, the dead guards might do so as well.


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Masfiq wrote:

Hi all, i was playing with my party yesterday, i'm not an expert player. I have a question for you all: can good characters kill for their ideals of freedom and still be good?

Is a particular situation, the fight was ended, and the guards of the dictatorship were unconscious. The rebel can't let them alive, this makes them automatically not good? A good character can kill enemies only in a fight?
Sorry for my bad english guys, and thanks a lot.

Is killing a helpless opponent an evil act?

Yes. There is no other answer. There is no justification. There is nothing. Killing a helpless opponent is evil.

Does this make a character instantly non-good?

No. It takes multiple evil acts to make a character shift in alignment.

The only people who should have to worry about something like this are Paladins. They have penalties where they get smacked for a single evil action. So unless you are a Paladin, your character feels bad. Unless this becomes a regular occurrence this isn't going to be a terrible thing.


HWalsh wrote:
Masfiq wrote:

Hi all, i was playing with my party yesterday, i'm not an expert player. I have a question for you all: can good characters kill for their ideals of freedom and still be good?

Is a particular situation, the fight was ended, and the guards of the dictatorship were unconscious. The rebel can't let them alive, this makes them automatically not good? A good character can kill enemies only in a fight?
Sorry for my bad english guys, and thanks a lot.

Is killing a helpless opponent an evil act?

Yes. There is no other answer. There is no justification. There is nothing. Killing a helpless opponent is evil.

Does this make a character instantly non-good?

No. It takes multiple evil acts to make a character shift in alignment.

The only people who should have to worry about something like this are Paladins. They have penalties where they get smacked for a single evil action. So unless you are a Paladin, your character feels bad. Unless this becomes a regular occurrence this isn't going to be a terrible thing.

Debatable.

1) Did the guard refuse to surrender or failed to offer surrender?
2) Were the rebel in a position to take and provide bare necessity to Prisoners of War?
3) Would leaving the guards free and alive meant that they would continue to oppress the people in the name of the Dictator?

If you answer Yes, No and Yes to those three questions, killing them was justifiable and not an Evil act, nor a Good one either but an act of necessity of war.

Even a Paladin would have no issue with that.


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Good isn't Stupid. Neither is Evil.

A lot of novice RPGers have problems understanding that.

There's a pretty good framework for addressing issues like this, courtesy of the Just War theory espoused by the current Catholic Church. For violence to be justified:

* the damage inflicted by the [evil person to be killed] must be lasting, grave, and certain; the guards of the Evil Overlord certainly qualify here.
* all other means of [dealing with them] must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; As Andre Roy pointed out, was "taking them prisoner" a realistic option?
* there must be serious prospects of success [for the good guys]; presumably the rebels are actually trying to win, and aren't just trying to raise Hell?
* the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated; it doesn't sound like you did anything to the Evil Overlord's henchmen that He wouldn't have them do to you.


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If you kill evil tyrants and slavers, I guess you can both be good and kill for the ideal of freedom... then again, the one with the real say on that in your campaign is the DM.


HWalsh wrote:
Masfiq wrote:

Hi all, i was playing with my party yesterday, i'm not an expert player. I have a question for you all: can good characters kill for their ideals of freedom and still be good?

Is a particular situation, the fight was ended, and the guards of the dictatorship were unconscious. The rebel can't let them alive, this makes them automatically not good? A good character can kill enemies only in a fight?
Sorry for my bad english guys, and thanks a lot.

Is killing a helpless opponent an evil act?

Yes. There is no other answer. There is no justification. There is nothing. Killing a helpless opponent is evil.

The only people who should have to worry about something like this are Paladins. They have penalties where they get smacked for a single evil action. So unless you are a Paladin, your character feels bad. Unless this becomes a regular occurrence this isn't going to be a terrible thing.

I have to disagree, if the helpless opponent is irredeemably evil, then swif execution is a merciful option and not evil


PossibleCabbage wrote:

My general philosophy on the game function of alignment is that the purpose of alignment is to get players to think about how their characters internally justify their actions or motivations. If you're stopping to think "wait, is this good?" and you're able to come up with a justification, then you should be all right.

The purpose of having "Good" on your character sheet is to get you to ask that question, not to punish you if you step out of line. Just due to the nature of the game, a lot of people the party runs into are going to end up dead, and context is going to be the deciding factor on "is this okay?".

mind if i quote you on this at a later undetermined date?

edit: more likely paraphrase


Yes, I liked a lot that explanation too.
People tend to consider good a lot of different things, and I hate having to impose to my players my point of view on what is good and what is not.
As long as they are making an effort to play good, they are not trying to exploit or twist the alignment system to do what they want and they can give a good reason to justify that their actions are good I am fine.
Of course, there are some players that need stronger guidelines for their alignment, but when you have serious and mature players, it works fine.
Weird enough, I have a harder time playing evil characters. I make an effort to make them be believable, with logic motivations, some virtues, a good justification to see themselves as they were doing the right things.
So I end developing my villains and evil PCs in a way that sometimes makes me think they are not evil enough.
My players love redeeming baddies, so they have never complained. I've used too this kind of baddies who are utterly evil and cannot be reasoned with or redeemed, but they are not my favorite kind.


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

Young sailor, up the mast on a raft: "Cannibalism is a sin! you will rot in hell for this!"
Old sailor, hacking down that mast: "What do you think confession's for? Here, piggy, piggy, piggy!"


Mayonnaise is evil. Mustard is good.


Waitress, I'd like to have an evil sandwich, please.


HWalsh wrote:
Masfiq wrote:

Hi all, i was playing with my party yesterday, i'm not an expert player. I have a question for you all: can good characters kill for their ideals of freedom and still be good?

Is a particular situation, the fight was ended, and the guards of the dictatorship were unconscious. The rebel can't let them alive, this makes them automatically not good? A good character can kill enemies only in a fight?
Sorry for my bad english guys, and thanks a lot.

Is killing a helpless opponent an evil act?

Yes. There is no other answer. There is no justification. There is nothing. Killing a helpless opponent is evil.

Does this make a character instantly non-good?

No. It takes multiple evil acts to make a character shift in alignment.

The only people who should have to worry about something like this are Paladins. They have penalties where they get smacked for a single evil action. So unless you are a Paladin, your character feels bad. Unless this becomes a regular occurrence this isn't going to be a terrible thing.

False, you might mean:

Is killing a helpless opponent an evil act?
No. There is no other answer.
Now, circumstances can make this an evil act.
Did he surrender and you promised him no harm? Then it would be evil to kill him as he is considered innocent as long as he truly surrendered.
Helpless doesn't make one innocent. Only killing innocents is automatically an evil act.


Actually, killing an enemy who surrenders after you gave your word he'd not be harmed is more chaotic than evil... the good/evil axis comes on how evil the foe is and how susceptible to redemption.


Someone who follows strict rules such as "killing a helpless opponent is always evil" is probably Lawful Good. (Or Lawful Neutral.)

A Neutral Good character would be more likely to consider not the rules, but the likely consequences of the act. If you let him live, will it cause other people to die? They know that "don't kill helpless enemies" is a good rule of thumb, but they're willing to acknowledge the possibility that there might be special cases where, for example, murdering Hitler in his sleep is better than any of the alternatives.

(Personally I don't see how killing a non-helpless person is any better - it's not like nonlethal damage isn't an option.)


This is not a simple answer because not enough information was provided. Without knowing the circumstances and the nature of the guards it is impossible to determine if this is a good or evil act.

Is the dictator actually evil? You could easily have a lawful neutral dictator still oppresses people without being evil. Rahadoum is a perfect example of this. They ruthlessly impose their views on everyone and will tolerate any kind of divine ability. You could even have a lawful good dictator who imposes his own version of good on everyone even if they don’t want it.

Even if the dictator is evil that does not mean the guards are evil. Even in societies ruled by evil most people including guards tend to be neutral. It makes a big difference if the guards are simply doing their jobs, or if they are murderous killer and child molesters. Was the fight because the guards were in the middle of doing an evil act, or were they attacked simply because they were guards?

What is the consequence of leaving the guards alive? Was the fight part of a mission to save people or stop evil? If the fight was part of a mission against evil what will happen if the guards are left alive? If the only way to complete your mission is to kill the guards then it may not be an evil act. If on the other hand you don’t need to kill the guards than killing them may be an evil act. A lot of it will depend on the nature of the guards.

If the guards are murderous villains who were caught in the attempt of murdering and raping innocent people than it would probably be a good deed. If on the other hand the guards were on guarding the treasure room of a lawful


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'd say it's definitely not "good", but whether it is evil would of course depend on the circumstances, the full details of which are not provided


A good character would have hope for the human spirit. He would spare the guards, because (1) he doesn't want to kill and (2) he hopes they will come around to his point of view. To some extent, good is a kind of arrogance.
In stories, typically in movies and such, the bad guys frequently behave more mercifully than the "good" guys, because you can't kill the hero, whereas the good guys slay people left and right without a thought.
That's why shows like Game of Thrones deliberately kill off major good characters. They writer hates that trope/rule.


Orfamay Quest wrote:

Good isn't Stupid. Neither is Evil.

A lot of novice RPGers have problems understanding that.

There's a pretty good framework for addressing issues like this, courtesy of the Just War theory espoused by the current Catholic Church. For violence to be justified:

* the damage inflicted by the [evil person to be killed] must be lasting, grave, and certain; the guards of the Evil Overlord certainly qualify here.
* all other means of [dealing with them] must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; As Andre Roy pointed out, was "taking them prisoner" a realistic option?
* there must be serious prospects of success [for the good guys]; presumably the rebels are actually trying to win, and aren't just trying to raise Hell?
* the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated; it doesn't sound like you did anything to the Evil Overlord's henchmen that He wouldn't have them do to you.

I would be very careful about following ANYTHING the RCC says regarding good and evil, or even morality in general.

That said, much of that theory seems decent. One thing that is not, though, is that all other means have been SHOWN to be impractical. That puts the burden of proof, endlessly so, on the rebel - which would be a very bad thing in a violent dictatorship. Then again, the RCC has no shortage of backing up those.

Regarding the guards, I would say they are far from innocent simply given their support for the regime. Live by the sword, die by the sword should be an acceptable principle. A wicked regime has to deal with violence by not letting civilized ways of conflict resolution work. It does get more complicated if they were drafted, of course. A safe bet is that the officer volunteered, though. I don't see much in the way of alignment issues here: The situation is an acute one of life or death, and beyond that the risk of them reporting is likely too great.

I would say that the real issue is whether what the rebels want is actually a good thing.


Matthew Downie wrote:
(Personally I don't see how killing a non-helpless person is any better - it's not like nonlethal damage isn't an option.)

It's known, in television/movies, as the good cop theory.

So, basically, it works like this. Good isn't stupid. If you're facing an enemy that you can take down using non-lethal means without undue risk to yourself then you do it. If you put yourself at significant if you try it, then you don't try it.

-----

So your theoretical good cop faces off against a street tough. The good cop tells the tough to surrender, the tough takes a swing at the good cop in response. The good cop is bigger, stronger, and a better fighter. The good cop wrestles the tough to the ground, knocks him out, then cuffs him.

Then your theoretical good cop encounters a bank robber with a gun. The good cop tells the robber to surrender. The robber refuses and shoots at the good cop. The good cop shoots the robber in the chest. The good cop rushes over and sees that the robber is alive, he tries to stabilize him as he calls for help.

-----

Now a bad cop is in the same situation. The bad cop tells the tough to surrender, the tough takes a swing at the bad cop in response. The bad cop is bigger, stronger, and a better fighter. The bad cop smirks and raises his fists. He snap kicks the tough in the knee, then stomps down to crush his instep. The bad cop laughs as the tough cries out, then knocks him out, before he

pulls his gun and shoots him in the head.

Then your theoretical bad cop encounters a bank robber with a gun. The bad cop tells the robber to surrender while he is in the process of shooting the robber in the chest. Never intending to accept his surrender the bad cop walks over and sees the robber is still alive. He leans over and shoots him in the head to finish him off.

-----

Look at those examples. If you see the first in a movie you generally assume that the cop is a straight arrow. He's a good guy. If you see the second, then you know the cop is a vile murderer.

What evokes the most out of each of those? What is the point of no return? In both cases it is the act of killing a downed opponent.

In the first example the bad cop is just a tough fighter who's a bit brutal until he kills the defeated for.

In the second example the bad cop is just too reckless and quick to shoot... Until he kills him.

In both everything is excusable until the final act.

That is why killing a helpless for is evil.


I remember reading a post about how Gygax said a paladin is justified in killing a surrendered, repentant opponent because then, since the enemy is now Good, their soul will go to a Good afterlife without giving the enemy a chance to backslide and become Evil again...


Masfiq wrote:
can good characters kill for their ideals of freedom and still be good?

Yes. You don't have to be a pacifist to be good.

However, killing is not a good act - you can only become less good by killing, not more.

HWalsh wrote:

Is killing a helpless opponent an evil act?

Yes.

I honestly would call it an evil act no matter the condition or alignment of the opponent. But sometimes it's less evil to kill due to circumstances (act of mercy, stopping tyranny, stopping terrorism, etc) - That's when it's "okay" to kill. But I'd never call it a good act.

In this example: Letting an opponent live and recover may lead to you getting killed later. This means that not killing the helpless opponent may potentially result in your (and others') death - this is in direct conflict with some paladin codes.

Now, this are not absolutes. It's just my 2 cents.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Good is Stupid.

FTFY


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parsimony wrote:
That's why shows like Game of Thrones deliberately kill off major good characters. They writer hates that trope/rule.

Nah, it is because GRRM is a hack.


Sorry, but it feels like there is a step missing from the initial scenario.
Why must they die?


Anytime someone uses the word anytime is an alignment discussion they are usually wrong. There are exceptions to almost any rule. In most cases killing a helpless person would be considered evil, but there are a lot of exceptions to that rule

I would consider ending a person’s life to prevent them from suffer as a good deed. If there is no hope of survival and the person is in great pain ending their life can be considered merciful. Letting a person needlessly suffer is often cruel. Sometimes it may not be actively killing them, but rather withholding treatment that could keep them alive longer. Deciding when this is appropriate is the hardest thing that a human will ever have to do.

Another situation where killing an innocent person can be a good deed is to save the lives of others. If for example you had a situation where a helpless person even a child had an air born lethal disease and was in a situation where they were going to contaminate others and the only way to stop would be to kill the child. This disease is spreads so rapidly and is so deadly it can wipe out all life of the planet. The child does not know or realize they are infected and they are about to come in contact with rest of the world. Let say they are escaping from a room that is filling up with water and you can stop them by closing the door. If you close the door the child will die. If you do not close the door all life on the planet will die including the child because then there will be no one to take care of the child and it will starve to death. In this case closing the door would be a good act.

What really makes the difference in whether an act can be considered good or evil is the persons motivation and their reactions afterwards. In booth of the above cases a good person would be profoundly disturbed by his actions and feel genuine remorse


The thing about killing helpless opponents is that Pathfinder does basically subscribe to the whole videogame type logic that some races just have a sword to the neck coming. Things like demons and drow are written as so irredeemably and puppy kickingly evil there's no grey areas for putting a sword in their head even if they give up (After all, they'll surely just go back to evil when you leave).

It's basically to help those paladins have something easy to crusade against without all the bothers of wondering if that guy is a family man just following orders or eats babies.

Even ignoring that, Paizo doesn't seem to put any stigma against denying an enemy surrender and just shivving someone (Which is a war crime in real world land by the by). After all, we have Torag paladins (aka about as Good as you can get) explicitly told in their code to not accept an enemy's surrender unless you get an advantage to do so.

As with all things, have a sit down with the GM about it if you feel its an issue.


I tend to revert to the Good = Selfless (do a degree) Evil = Selfish (to a degree)

There is not enough information given by the OP to know WHAT the motivation for killing them is. Every reason I come up with is self-serving and puts the wants/desires of the rebel over all other considerations, and upon a helpless opponent at that.

If the only real reason to kill unconscious guards is, "so I can remain anonymous/not be identified as the rebel," then yes, I would consider that self-serving and therefore basically evil.

If the reason is to prevent them from sounding the alarm, then yes, it is evil because you can do that through non-lethal means (bind/gag.)


This is from Sarenrae, the literal goddess of redemption:

"Yet there are those who have no interest in redemption, who glory in slaughter and death. From the remorseless evil of the undead and fiends, to the cruelties born in the hearts of mortals, Sarenrae's doctrines preach swift justice delivered by the scimitar's edge. To this end, she expects her faithful to be skilled at swordplay, both as a form of martial art promoting centering of mind and body, and so that when they do enter battle, their foes do not suffer any longer than necessary."

In other words, even the goddess of redemption has no qualms killing evil people who have no interest in redemption, regardless of how helpless they might be.


parsimony wrote:
That's why shows like Game of Thrones deliberately kill off major good characters. They writer hates that trope/rule.

Game of Thrones kills off characters for shock value, to tie up loose ends the showrunners don't know what to do with, and (increasingly more as the show goes on) for fanservice.


Athaleon wrote:
parsimony wrote:
That's why shows like Game of Thrones deliberately kill off major good characters. They writer hates that trope/rule.
Game of Thrones kills off characters for shock value, to tie up loose ends the showrunners don't know what to do with, and (increasingly more as the show goes on) for fanservice.

Yeah. Martin is a hack writer.

He whacks characters to get shock value only, or when he realizes that a character has become inconvenient. The series is chock full of bad writing too, such as one Mr. Mary-Sue Snow who literally fits the entire Mary Sue package to a T.


Killing is not a good thing, nor is it always an evil thing.
Best movie scene about this was a captured serial killer taunting a cop that he would be judged insane, fool the doctors, be freed, and come and kill the cops family.

Cop said, "I believe you." Then put a bullet in the serial killer's brain.

I wouldn't have a paladin fall for that.
As for the Gygax anecdote, consider the source, he was an interesting, but flawed man. If the quote was accurate, it was just another thing he said that I don't agree with. Really, a redeemed man is a force for good.

People seem to have a fundemental misunderstanding about what evil is. Evil is not bigger than life, it is smaller than life. It is someone who could change the world being more concerned with petty grudges and making sure anything that annoys him pays for it, and pays big. It takes joy in crushing the less powerful. It will kill a benefactor to get closer to the benefactor's wealth.


Daw wrote:

Killing is not a good thing, nor is it always an evil thing.

Best movie scene about this was a captured serial killer taunting a cop that he would be judged insane, fool the doctors, be freed, and come and kill the cops family.

Cop said, "I believe you." Then put a bullet in the serial killer's brain.

I wouldn't have a paladin fall for that

I would. He broke the law. He broke his oath to uphold the law. He made a promise then broke it.

Not only is that non-lawful, it is also breaking his oaths.

What would a Paladin actually do?

A Paladin would say, "I believe that you think you will. You might be freed, but if you do, I'll be watching, I'll stop you, and I'll keep stopping you. I won't let you turn me into a murderer. I won't let you win."


HWalsh wrote:
I would. He broke the law. He broke his oath to uphold the law. He made a promise then broke it.

Breaking the law does not cause a fall.

Paladins do not swear an oath to upload the law, their code of conduct is:

"Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents."

So, for example, they're under no obligation to respect (let alone uphold) the law of an evil and unjust tyrant.

Paladins can also break promises as long as they're still lawful good overall.

HWalsh wrote:
Not only is that non-lawful, it is also breaking his oaths.

A single evil act causes a fall. A single chaotic act does not.

HWalsh wrote:

What would a Paladin actually do?

A Paladin would say, "I believe that you think you will. You might be freed, but if you do, I'll be watching, I'll stop you, and I'll keep stopping you. I won't let you turn me into a murderer. I won't let you win."

One paladin might do that. Another paladin might want to do that but know that he's needed elsewhere (there's a lich or demonic invasion or...) and can't afford to sit around watching this guy, plenty of other bad guys out there...and therefore just kills him. A third paladin might simply kill the evil bastard because he deserves it. There's more than one type of LG.

Hell, this is the doctrine of the goddess of redemption:

"Yet there are those who have no interest in redemption, who glory in slaughter and death. From the remorseless evil of the undead and fiends, to the cruelties born in the hearts of mortals, Sarenrae's doctrines preach swift justice delivered by the scimitar's edge. To this end, she expects her faithful to be skilled at swordplay, both as a form of martial art promoting centering of mind and body, and so that when they do enter battle, their foes do not suffer any longer than necessary."


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To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.


_Ozy_ wrote:
To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

I did that one on another thread too. I think the thread title was "what the purpose of this game?" like third post too. good times. good times.

So basically I approve


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Paladin, as viewed by Gygax: "You have surrendered and proclaimed your conversion to the law and good. You, having been just recently the willing servant of evil, are a high recidivism risk. I will therefore send you to the afterlife so that you may not stain that conviction by backsliding."

I am of the opinion that this is the standard - that 'surrender' is not, and should not be, a 'get out of being slain free' card, especially not if they have committed grievous acts of harm in the past, whether that be recent or distant, with no intervening drift (slow or swift) away from evil.

IMO, in a fantasy domain in which the gods are a real part via paladins, divination, and the like, the once-evil good character will lift their chin to the sword and ask the lawbringer to make their justice be swift. The not-actually-good character, the 'says he surrenders and repents to try to save his skin', will tend to squeal and beg to not be executed, try to lawyerly-weasel his way out of it, and that sort of thing.

Killing a helpless foe is, by modern standards, an evil thing. In a medieval setting, this just ain't so. If you have no way to take them into custody, enslave them, and sell them to a distant market, if they're likely to try to escape (and considering prisons of the day, escape is quite possible) and slay your own people in the attempt and/or on their way back to their own homeland, then execution of the 'helpless' is not only 'not evil', it's justifiably good.

The question somewhat turns on the Batman/Joker question. The Bat always captures Joker; Joker always escapes and kills a few (or a few dozen/hundred) people. Batman doesn't kill Mr. J, because he's 'better than him'. That, in essence, applies the first time; even applies the second time. But by the third time, it doesn't.

The same question resides in the use of execution, which is currently reserved to the State; these foes are helpless, are they not? Sure, they've undergone trials, but make no mistake, both the innocent and the redeemed have been executed. (And the redeemed have all had the 'make your justice swift' attitude I speak of above. Because redeemed.) The point here, however, is that 'killing a helpless foe' - execution by any other name - is something done in regards to and for the society in (or for) which it takes place. If an individual is too dangerous to allow to live, if the methodology to keep them alive is not practical (or, as in some cases, exceedingly laborious), if one can adequately judge their past actions, then execution is entirely lawful and good - and in such cases may well be considered a violation of the social compact to keep the offender alive.

Going back to the OP, the question that would need to be asked is 'were they willing participants in the Evil Overlord's schemes?' I'd think one could safely assume (you know, Evil Overlord and all) that they were indeed. Another question might be 'how soon are they going to wake up, get free, and follow us to stab us in the back?' Because the last thing you need when you finally confront the EO is his henchmen hitting you in a flanking maneuver ...

HWalsh wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
parsimony wrote:
That's why shows like Game of Thrones deliberately kill off major good characters. They writer hates that trope/rule.
Game of Thrones kills off characters for shock value, to tie up loose ends the showrunners don't know what to do with, and (increasingly more as the show goes on) for fanservice.

Yeah. Martin is a hack writer.

He whacks characters to get shock value only, or when he realizes that a character has become inconvenient. The series is chock full of bad writing too, such as one Mr. Mary-Sue Snow who literally fits the entire Mary Sue package to a T.

Clearly you lot know very little to nothing about history. George R.R. is taking the Song almost completely from the English War of the Roses. 'Favorite character' death is, well, rife in reality. Sorry.


Quote:
Clearly you lot know very little to nothing about history. George R.R. is taking the Song almost completely from the English War of the Roses. 'Favorite character' death is, well, rife in reality. Sorry.

Who hasn't been told that Stark/Lannister = York/Lancaster by now? It doesn't necessarily make someone a bad writer to put a fantasy veneer on a historical event, everything is after all derivative, but it doesn't make one a good author either. The series' shocking deaths were supposed to indicate that no one has plot armor and everyone suffers the consequences of their bad decisions. That's fine, in fact GoT became popular because that was refreshing. But as it went on, it got to the point that character death lost its shock value, good characters were replaced with bad ones, and Daenerys, Arya, Tyrion, and Jon Snow are plot-armored to the gills because they're the fan favorites.

As for alignment, I think anyone who has read my posts in these threads knows what I think of it: It's useless as a descriptor, because the arguments over alignment are endless and unsolvable. Philosophers have wrestled with the problem of "What does it mean to be a good person" since the beginning, and as far as anyone knows, no "ultimate" answer will ever be found. Law vs. Chaos is even worse: What shall we make of a Paladin whose moral code compels him to overthrow a tyrannical, but legitimate, king at the risk of plunging the realm into anarchy? It becomes worse than useless when alignment is enforced by mechanics, as it is with most divine casting classes, plus Monks and Barbarians. For a good chunk of the game's characters (half the classes in the CRB!), alignment really is prescriptive. It's telling that many (most?) RPG systems, especially those that aren't D&D derivatives, do not bother with alignment at all.

For what it's worth, as far as I'm concerned, if you let a killer go free his next victim's blood is on your hands as well.


mardaddy wrote:

I tend to revert to the Good = Selfless (do a degree) Evil = Selfish (to a degree)

There is not enough information given by the OP to know WHAT the motivation for killing them is. Every reason I come up with is self-serving and puts the wants/desires of the rebel over all other considerations, and upon a helpless opponent at that.

If the only real reason to kill unconscious guards is, "so I can remain anonymous/not be identified as the rebel," then yes, I would consider that self-serving and therefore basically evil.

If the reason is to prevent them from sounding the alarm, then yes, it is evil because you can do that through non-lethal means (bind/gag.)

That logic basically makes any form of self-preservation evil.

Attacked by baddie of the week? Well defending yourself is just selfish. Why aren't you letting those bandits rob and murder you? You just want to protect yourself and your selfish material possessions. How greedy and evil can you get?

Working to make a living? So it's all about yourself and your material desires again. Monster.


I mean true Good that isn't that much of a stretch as you think. Buddha just turned attacks to flower but he didn't harm the attackers. Gandhi probably would of just gave the robbers his stuff if he had stuff. your example is extreme but not out of the range of reality.

also taking the bandits back to a nearby authority for trial is probably a reasonable thing to do as opposed to executing them on the spot while they are defenseless. Its more lawful that way the Good thing would be to let them go or try and show them the error of their ways if we want to go with an ultimate good as good can be good.

If you believe in rehabilitation taking them back to the constable or what have you meets both of those really.

I mean think about our system if someone jumps you you can defend yourself but if that person gives up or submits shooting them in the head after would probably make for a difficult case for your lawyer.

Really thought his is just turning into another one of those morale debate threads and I've already been through one and stated the philosophy and all that so I would go look up one of those. I think in the end everyone is gonna decide for themselves anyways.


Re: Batman, if he kills joker, he's now a murderer, somebody the GCPD can no longer leave alone. In a sense, batsy leaves him alive so he's not in prison when the next villain shows up, which may well have apocalyptic-scale abilities.


The Sideromancer wrote:
Re: Batman, if he kills joker, he's now a murderer, somebody the GCPD can no longer leave alone. In a sense, batsy leaves him alive so he's not in prison when the next villain shows up, which may well have apocalyptic-scale abilities.

If the Joker turns up dead, no cop is going to investigate that death. They'll just have a drink in celebration and sleep a little easier that night.


The Sideromancer wrote:
Re: Batman, if he kills joker, he's now a murderer, somebody the GCPD can no longer leave alone. In a sense, batsy leaves him alive so he's not in prison when the next villain shows up, which may well have apocalyptic-scale abilities.

He kills the Joker in the Killing Joke and gets away with it (ending sequence after finally laughing at Joker's jokes).


Starbuck_II wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Re: Batman, if he kills joker, he's now a murderer, somebody the GCPD can no longer leave alone. In a sense, batsy leaves him alive so he's not in prison when the next villain shows up, which may well have apocalyptic-scale abilities.
He kills the Joker in the Killing Joke and gets away with it (ending sequence after finally laughing at Joker's jokes).

I've read a set with the opposite:

Batman is pushing 70, Gordon is retiring, replaced by someone wanting a little tighter grip on batsy. Gordon discourages her, at first.

Joker shows up in the carvial district. Leads batman to tunnel of love. Plenty of cops see the two enter. Joker suicides. Everybody cracks down on Batman, including Superman.

I think it was "The Dark Knight Returns" or something like that.


Uh, no - End of 'The Killing Joke', Joker gets taken away by GCPD as usual. Batman kills Joker in Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns'.


The Wyrm Ouroboros wrote:
Uh, no - End of 'The Killing Joke', Joker gets taken away by GCPD as usual. Batman kills Joker in Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns'.

Batman decides to kill Joker in "Dark Knight Returns" but at the end he's not willing to cross the line. Broken and battered, Joker suicides after telling Batman that "they're going to pin this on you [anyway]."


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Two things to consider.

To whose benefit?
and
On whose expense?

For the benefit of others, and at your own expense? Good action.
For your own benefit, and at the expense of others? Evil action.

Every other combination falls into neutral.

This way has always felt intuitive to me.


A very good way of looking at it, Envall - even if that 'expense' lies in reputation and the like.

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