The Goblin Controversy, Inherent Evil, and the Problems with Racial Alignment


Prerelease Discussion

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Over the past couple of days of watching the goblin debate, I have come to the conclusion that the issues people have with their inclusion as a core ancestry are really just symptoms of a more integral problem with Pathfinder: the idea that certain sentient species are inherently evil.

In current Pathfinder lore, entire races are genetically predisposed towards evil, despite supposedly being independent individuals with free will and separate souls (unlike outsiders). A few goblins, orcs, drow, etc. may become good through great personal effort and exceptional circumstances, but the general population of these races naturally gravitate towards violence and destruction. Thus, many people are (rightly) concerned by the idea of goblin PCs on a large scale. After all, the first sentence of the goblin entry in the ARG is "Goblins are a race of childlike creatures with a destructive and voracious nature that makes them almost universally despised." And, under current lore, this contempt for goblins is justified: they really are instinctually motivated towards evil.

But why do goblins (or other "monstrous" races) have to be predisposed to favor evil? They aren't outsiders, and they do have free will. Traditional PC races have full control over their alignment, so why should goblins be compelled towards evil? In my opinion, the inherent evil of goblins and orcs is just a cheap way of eliminating any moral qualms the PCs might have about wantonly slaughtering sentient beings. It may be that certain races have more evil individuals than others due to their history or other external circumstances, but they shouldn't be forced into certain alignments by their very nature.

In order to both better justify the inclusion of goblins as a core ancestry and generally increase moral nuance, ancestries in PF2 should not be predisposed towards certain alignments at all. In addition, bestiaries should not list alignment for non-outsider creatures. Published adventures should still list alignment for the monsters and NPCs they contain, because those are specific individuals, but bestiaries should no longer assign alignments to whole species. Hopefully these changes would reduce the problems with goblin PCs and give GMs more freedom when designing adventures.


I actually agree with this.

Players should have to consider the moral implications of killing.

The problem, I think, is that this would require some changes in the setting. For example, You could still have the goblins at thistletop in ROTRL but you would have to drive the idea that these are creatures following ripnugget who worships Lamashtu under the tutelage of a priestess of Lamashtu.


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Is there something wrong about there being a "cheap way of eliminating any moral qualms the PCs might have about wantonly slaughtering sentient being" as you put it? Not every fantasy setting needs to be nuanced to be enjoyable. It's ok to have fodder.

Besides, with both Orcs and Goblins in Golarion, the propensity for Evil is part of the culture and upbringing. And in both cases, most of the culture derives from Gods widely worshipped by said Race. Given the Gods are Objectively Evil, it stands to reason a culture that follows those tenets is going to be Evil and, at best, Neutral.


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Gnolls?

What is your solution for Drow as presented by Pathfinder Canon?

Also, are you actively calling for them to scrap big chunks of setting cannon and start over?


BryonD wrote:

Gnolls?

What is your solution for Drow as presented by Pathfinder Canon?

Also, are you actively calling for them to scrap big chunks of setting cannon and start over?

Quite. We can go through the list of races and debate at end if they should be good or evil or if oiling them is right or not all day.

OP, Sahagins defense or changes please. If only because I'm reading Skull and Shackles.


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I feel like it's best to read a bestiary entry for a creature as a "typical" representative of a group, but to make clear that outliers exist for all groups.

My personal preference is that no sentient beings are inherently evil, it's simply that the overwhelming majority of these folks are raised in evil cultures. Hobgoblins are capable of kindness, compassion, cooperation, and charity... which is why Hobgoblin culture is ruthless in beating these inclinations out of people.

Even Outsiders and Undead, even though they are handed an alignment as part of what they are are capable of becoming a different alignment even if it's incredibly difficult.

It's just that if you don't need a [whatever] to exist in your campaign as a character, merely as an obstacle, it's not necessary to consider whether they stand out from the crowd by virtue of having a different ethical framework.


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Short of doing away Alignment completely...
You could do the following.

Replace the line:
Alignment: Chaotic Evil or Neutral Good or etc.

With the Line:
Alignment: Any, Leans towards Good (or Neutral or Evil or Chaotic or Lawful)

No absolutes or "forced Alignments" and it is wide enough for the odd-ball character concepts even when it gives a general direction of a particular society.

Seems like a fair middle ground.

(Even if it continues the charade that is Alignment! Let the players play, Durn it! I believe they can be proper heroes without writing two letters on their sheet! :P)


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I mean, as it is right now there's also sort of a monoculture thing going there right now in 1e, while it would probably be a lot more realistic if there are SOME tribes of goblins that are warlike, cruel, and destroy for its own sake and cannot be reasoned with, while there are also SOME tribes of goblins that are perfectly fine to have as neighbors, maybe even handy to have around for one reason or another.

I mean, unintelligent undead, devils, demons, and constructs form four handy types of creatures that can be destroyed mercilessly without any arguments that this is not exactly the moral thing to do, I don't see why green humanoids all gotta be evil until proven innocent.


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Blackwaltzomega wrote:

I mean, as it is right now there's also sort of a monoculture thing going there right now in 1e, while it would probably be a lot more realistic if there are SOME tribes of goblins that are warlike, cruel, and destroy for its own sake and cannot be reasoned with, while there are also SOME tribes of goblins that are perfectly fine to have as neighbors, maybe even handy to have around for one reason or another.

I mean, unintelligent undead, devils, demons, and constructs form four handy types of creatures that can be destroyed mercilessly without any arguments that this is not exactly the moral thing to do, I don't see why green humanoids all gotta be evil until proven innocent.

They shouldn't, but the majority of published paizo material presents them that way. To go from murder monkeys to core race is quite the heel face turn. Especially without any of the other races getting similar PR boosts.


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I think it is perfectly fine that the world isnt gray, black and white is good enough for me when it comes to plenty of its parts.

I dont want to stop and judge before killing EVERYTHING cause this one might just not be evil, lets stop and talk about his life and what led him here...

Hope in PF 2.0 this continues.

Orcs are bad, we kill orcs. Yey. Job done.


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There is an argument that not having NPCs react in a way that matches what the GM feels like their outlook should be on a 'typically evil' race is unrealistic.

The idea that all members of a race act the same way, share the same worldview, and worship the same gods is unrealistic. Especially in a world where there are so many different cultures in such close proximity with each other. Culture is not a stagnant thing, and no one society is an island. Even if a culture was somehow completely uninfluenced from the outside world, culture evolves and changes as the participating members of that culture innovate due to changing needs.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder has always been pretty clear that those are simply the most common Alignment, not remotely set in stone. Some people are just willfully blind to this fact.

Making that fact much more obvious and clear seems a better solution than removing the Alignment line altogether.


I don't really like the "this race is evil" trope. While it existed to some extent in folklore, Tolkien really codified the Evil race thing. It's now cliche and lazy. TV Tropes says it well: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AlwaysChaoticEvil


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Also to ask for the game to be just realistic enough so you can include discrimination and potentially racism fueled violence where you feel is warranted in setting, while stipulating that the cultural push back by targeted minorites in response to the above maladaptive social divides is too realistic because 'I'm just here to play a game, man' is both a double-standard and dishonest.

It's like playing expecting to play a game of dodgeball, but where only your team gets to throw, and all the opposing team can do is dodge if they're lucky.


Tresondros wrote:

I actually agree with this.

Players should have to consider the moral implications of killing.

The problem, I think, is that this would require some changes in the setting. For example, You could still have the goblins at thistletop in ROTRL but you would have to drive the idea that these are creatures following ripnugget who worships Lamashtu under the tutelage of a priestess of Lamashtu.

Could always rewrite RotRL with halflings at thistletop and goblins as townsfolk. :P


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Kjeldorn wrote:

Short of doing away Alignment completely...

You could do the following.

Replace the line:
Alignment: Chaotic Evil or Neutral Good or etc.

With the Line:
Alignment: Any, Leans towards Good (or Neutral or Evil or Chaotic or Lawful)

No absolutes or "forced Alignments" and it is wide enough for the odd-ball character concepts even when it gives a general direction of a particular society.

Seems like a fair middle ground.

(Even if it continues the charade that is Alignment! Let the players play, Durn it! I believe they can be proper heroes without writing two letters on their sheet! :P)

That might be a good compromise. Or even insert the word "culturally" in front of "leans."


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Subparhiggins wrote:

Also to ask for the game to be just realistic enough so you can include discrimination and potentially racism fueled violence where you feel is warranted in setting, while stipulating that the cultural push back by targeted minorites in response to the above maladaptive social divides is too realistic because 'I'm just here to play a game, man' is both a double-standard and dishonest.

It's like playing expecting to play a game of dodgeball, but where only your team gets to throw, and all the opposing team can do is dodge if they're lucky.

But....but it's not realistic. The entire concept of "MUAHHAAHAHA WE ARE EEEEVIL" race is completely unrealistic. And it's what Pathfinder presents, most of the time, with the likes of Gnolls, Goblins, Orcs, Shahuagin, Drow, etc.

There's people that don't like that, and people that do.

I mean there's nothing "unrealistic" about responding to distrust, apprehension, or even violence to the races listed, considering what Golarion material says they do. It's unrealistic that they behave like a monolithic entity in the first place, but it's way easier to write monocultures than nuanced cultures.

And, again: there's nothing bad about having evil races. It's a fantasy world, you can do it.


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Honestly, I like the irredeemably evil races. This is a game of high adventure and fantasy. I frankly don't care that Minion #35621 in the service of the Dark Lord is only responding to centuries of oppression by the Taldan government thanks to ruthless taxation and slow whittling of his lands therefore the Dark Lord is actually not a bad guy at all and SHAME UPON YOU PALADIN FOR STRIKING DOWN MINION #35621, HE WASN'T BAD AT ALL!

It's a frickin minion of the local Dark Lord probably looking to unleash a third age of terror or something. Nuance isn't exactly expected or desired here and sometimes I want some good old thought-free crusading and skull cracking against the scum of the world/multiverse.


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TheFinish wrote:
Subparhiggins wrote:

Also to ask for the game to be just realistic enough so you can include discrimination and potentially racism fueled violence where you feel is warranted in setting, while stipulating that the cultural push back by targeted minorites in response to the above maladaptive social divides is too realistic because 'I'm just here to play a game, man' is both a double-standard and dishonest.

It's like playing expecting to play a game of dodgeball, but where only your team gets to throw, and all the opposing team can do is dodge if they're lucky.

But....but it's not realistic. The entire concept of "MUAHHAAHAHA WE ARE EEEEVIL" race is completely unrealistic. And it's what Pathfinder presents, most of the time, with the likes of Gnolls, Goblins, Orcs, Shahuagin, Drow, etc.

There's people that don't like that, and people that do.

I mean there's nothing "unrealistic" about responding to distrust, apprehension, or even violence to the races listed, considering what Golarion material says they do. It's unrealistic that they behave like a monolithic entity in the first place, but it's way easier to write monocultures than nuanced cultures.

And, again: there's nothing bad about having evil races. It's a fantasy world, you can do it.

I agree, evil races are completely unrealistic. And its a sort of inherited problem with Pathfinder, and a lot of fantasy based fiction in general. Its useful to have stereotypes in a fantasy setting so people can more easily grasp what they're looking at immediately, but again they're just stereotypes. Easy to write and with a use for a tabletop setting, but more of starting off point from which to expand than the definitive. I can actually think of very few mortal races in Pathfinder that are definitively all the time evil. Actually only one, and that's drow, but they even have a sidebar that says, "Sometimes drow are different" so that isn't even the case. All the definitive alignments I can think of are creatures with an aligned subtype, generally outsiders.

My issue lies with some arguments I've seen where people want racism in their game, because a world without discrimination isn't realistic and ruins their suspension of disbelief. But they aren't willing to deal all the moral questions and development that arise from having exactly what they wanted because that's too serious and ruining their fun. It's wanting to have your cake and eat it too.


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I agree that the trope of the purely evil race needs to go away. I don't agree that this is actually the main issue most people have with goblins in core. I have no problems with goblins not always being evil, or with goblins as PCs. My problem stems from the fact that the way they're changing it requires either a massive retcon, or a very forced accelerated societal change. Basically my problem is with how they're changing the lore. If they write that well, I'd be willing to accept it, albeit grudgingly, because I suspect the majority of goblin PCs, and probably a lot of the NPCs, will wind up being obnoxious. But I can deal with that if it doesn't feel like it's super forced or unnatural within the setting.


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I don't understand why evil races are unrealistic. Biology drives behavior just as much as environment. Maybe evil races have brain chemistry that leads to evil acts?


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DiscoJer wrote:
I don't understand why evil races are unrealistic. Biology drives behavior just as much as environment. Maybe evil races have brain chemistry that leads to evil acts?

This would be an incredibly unfortunate road to take, and would amplify the problem of evil races rather than doing anything to fix it.

Please don't do this Paizo.

Attempts to use science to justify inherent biological inferiority or lack of character has led to some of the greatest atrocities in history. Baking this as fact into your setting is... not a great PR move.

Liberty's Edge

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DiscoJer wrote:
I don't understand why evil races are unrealistic. Biology drives behavior just as much as environment. Maybe evil races have brain chemistry that leads to evil acts?

Speaking as someone with brain chemistry that would, absent environmental factors (ie: good parents) make me a horrible monster, I don't feel like this is a good justification for being 'always Evil'.

It works fine as a justification for 'more likely to be Evil' but that's really as far as that should go.


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Subparhiggins wrote:
DiscoJer wrote:
I don't understand why evil races are unrealistic. Biology drives behavior just as much as environment. Maybe evil races have brain chemistry that leads to evil acts?

This would be an incredibly unfortunate road to take, and would amplify the problem of evil races rather than doing anything to fix it.

Please don't do this Paizo.

I mean, is this really that different than "Forged from the blood of *Evil God Here* the *Evil Race Here* exist only to burn, pillage, and destroy,"

Evil because it's their nature is about as reasonable as it comes in a universe with a legion of dark gods who can do that with a snap of their fingers.


Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Subparhiggins wrote:
DiscoJer wrote:
I don't understand why evil races are unrealistic. Biology drives behavior just as much as environment. Maybe evil races have brain chemistry that leads to evil acts?

This would be an incredibly unfortunate road to take, and would amplify the problem of evil races rather than doing anything to fix it.

Please don't do this Paizo.

I mean, is this really that different than "Forged from the blood of *Evil God Here* the *Evil Race Here* exist only to burn, pillage, and destroy,"

Evil because it's their nature is about as reasonable as it comes in a universe with a legion of dark gods who can do that with a snap of their fingers.

It's not that different, and that's why I don't really care for the above. However it is a lot more culturally charged, and comes very very close to some ideas that I'm sure Paizo isn't interested in associating themselves with.

But then again, how literal are creation myths? Is that what actually happened, or just a story? Is that story as told reflected in their mechanics? The only playable mortal race that I can recall that comes close to 100% evil is Drow, but there is that sidebar that says, "Drow are not 100% evil" so really they aren't even worth mentioning as an example.


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every bestiary wrote:
alignment is far more fluid. The alignments listed for each monster in this book represent the norm for those monsters—they can vary as you require them to in order to serve the needs of your campaign.


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Subparhiggins wrote:

It's not that different, and that's why I don't really care for the above. However it is a lot more culturally charged, and comes very very close to some ideas that I'm sure Paizo isn't interested in associating themselves with.

But then again, how literal are creation myths? Is that what actually happened, or just a story? Is that story as told reflected in their mechanics? The only playable mortal race that I can recall that comes close to 100% evil is Drow, but there is that sidebar that says, "Drow are not 100% evil" so really they aren't even worth mentioning as an example.

Honestly, when the gods are quantifiable things, I'd put a fair amount of stock in some of them claiming they forged (whatever) in their image out of clay and flaming rat parts or whatever. Plus maybe it's my hopeless optimisim, but races of 99.99999% marauding evil jerks have been a genre staple since Tolkein and been accepted fine by the general public. Unless you do something dumb like make it an obvious *insert cultural group here* analogue, I have confidence people won't raise many eyebrows if the race of...I dunno Nilbogs got introduced who live only to destroy, plunder, and boot puppies over yonder in the Misty Mountains.


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I find it interesting that you brought that up because from my experience with discussing and reading about this topic Tolkien is actually often referenced as being very directly responsible for the unfortunate racial coding of standard fantasy races.


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Subparhiggins wrote:
DiscoJer wrote:
I don't understand why evil races are unrealistic. Biology drives behavior just as much as environment. Maybe evil races have brain chemistry that leads to evil acts?

This would be an incredibly unfortunate road to take, and would amplify the problem of evil races rather than doing anything to fix it.

Please don't do this Paizo.

Attempts to use science to justify inherent biological inferiority or lack of character has led to some of the greatest atrocities in history. Baking this as fact into your setting is... not a great PR move.

Please DO this paizo.

Turns out orcs arent real, they ARE a different RACE and they can actually be evil, no issues there.

The explanation doesnt matter, could even be the one given above, there is no point in going about real world nonsense in games that dont even remotely have anything to do with said world.


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Subparhiggins wrote:
I find it interesting that you brought that up because from my experience with discussing and reading about this topic Tolkien is actually often referenced as being very directly responsible for the unfortunate racial coding of standard fantasy races.

I mean I wouldn't be surprised if he popularized it, but ancient myth doesn't exactly shy away from various evil (and good) by design/nature spirits/creatures either and Tolkein did plunder a fair chunk of myths in creating his stuff. That and on top of that, most "racial coding" is just authorial laziness at its core. It's easier to have dwarf culture be defined by the dwarf race rather than forging a bunch of nuanced cultural societies based on geography, history, etc for dwarves and everything else. It's the same in sci-fi on how you come across the jungle planet, or the ice planet rather than places with a more diverse and realistic biome.


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Nox Aeterna wrote:
Subparhiggins wrote:
DiscoJer wrote:
I don't understand why evil races are unrealistic. Biology drives behavior just as much as environment. Maybe evil races have brain chemistry that leads to evil acts?

This would be an incredibly unfortunate road to take, and would amplify the problem of evil races rather than doing anything to fix it.

Please don't do this Paizo.

Attempts to use science to justify inherent biological inferiority or lack of character has led to some of the greatest atrocities in history. Baking this as fact into your setting is... not a great PR move.

Please DO this paizo.

Turns out orcs arent real, they ARE a different RACE and they can actually be evil, no issues there.

The explanation doesnt matter, could even be the one given above, there is no point in going about real world nonsense in games that dont even remotely have anything to do with said world.

They do have to deal with the real world though. Our creations are always partly influenced by of our thoughts, values, and morals as a society. Completely reflective of it? No, not always. But they do resonate with human experiences, and as a role playing game where we are literally putting ourselves in the shoes of other people and world views this needs to be kept into consideration at the table. Especially since this is not a single player game.

Racism and bigotry as seen in game from the perspective of a PC or portrayed by a GM is inherently influenced by our historical knowledge or experience of racism in the real world. This is why saying something like, "X are born evil." is a charged statement both in game and out. You might be looking at a player, currently in the role of an Orc, who might be part of a cultural group that was once thought to be 'born evil'. The adjacency of thought between this statement in a fantasy world to this statement in a real world is what can make people uncomfortable, and why its inclusion in a social game is flawed and to be handled with care and mutual consent.


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The Sesquipedalian Thaumaturge wrote:
Over the past couple of days of watching the goblin debate, I have come to the conclusion that the issues people have with their inclusion as a core ancestry are really just symptoms of a more integral problem with Pathfinder: the idea that certain sentient species are inherently evil.

In a world where angles can fall and even the basest of demons can rise, I have difficulty believing a goblin cannot choose to be good.

While there may be predispositions towards certain alignments, no race is absolutely bound to any alignment.


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I don’t know, I don’t have any problems with alignment. They are more of a generic guideline than a true moral code for me. Classes with religious or moral code should stay in their individual or church codes, not the three lines about their alignment.

I am scared of Goblins because of what I read on their roleplay description, but I don.t even remember their alignment. For example the Daemons always seemed to me more Chaotic Evil (destruction) than the Demons who like to corrupt mortels. Yet they are neutral evil.

To be honest I think the less alignment, the better. The anti-paladin codes from that book I can’t remember about evil churches is the perfect example of what I would like to see more. So I prefer precise description of the everyday life and believes of the common individual of a species than their alignment.


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First, thank you to Subparhiggins for eloquently and reasonably presenting some more excellent arguments on the problems with inherently evil races.

Now, some responses to things they haven't covered:

Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Honestly, when the gods are quantifiable things, I'd put a fair amount of stock in some of them claiming they forged (whatever) in their image out of clay and flaming rat parts or whatever. Plus maybe it's my hopeless optimisim, but races of 99.99999% marauding evil jerks have been a genre staple since Tolkein and been accepted fine by the general public. Unless you do something dumb like make it an obvious *insert cultural group here* analogue, I have confidence people won't raise many eyebrows if the race of...I dunno Nilbogs got introduced who live only to destroy, plunder, and boot puppies over yonder in the Misty Mountains.

Then why haven't any of the good gods created inherently good races? Also, I fail to see how "it's been this way for a long time" and "most people seem to be okay with it" are good arguments for why overwhelmingly evil races is good for the game.

dragonhunterq wrote:
every bestiary wrote:
alignment is far more fluid. The alignments listed for each monster in this book represent the norm for those monsters—they can vary as you require them to in order to serve the needs of your campaign.

That's true, but I have almost never seen a creature in an adventure with an alignment different from that listed in the Bestiary. It's easier just to use the existing statblock than actually consider alignment, so that's what everyone does.

Tarik Blackhands wrote:

Honestly, I like the irredeemably evil races. This is a game of high adventure and fantasy. I frankly don't care that Minion #35621 in the service of the Dark Lord is only responding to centuries of oppression by the Taldan government thanks to ruthless taxation and slow whittling of his lands therefore the Dark Lord is actually not a bad guy at all and SHAME UPON YOU PALADIN FOR STRIKING DOWN MINION #35621, HE WASN'T BAD AT ALL!

It's a frickin minion of the local Dark Lord probably looking to unleash a third age of terror or something. Nuance isn't exactly expected or desired here and sometimes I want some good old thought-free crusading and skull cracking against the scum of the world/multiverse.

What you want is in no way incompatible with getting rid of inherently evil races. Minion #35621 is serving the Dark Lord, so you're entirely justified in killing him. The Dark Lord is evil, and even if the minion isn't evil killing him still helps stop the Dark Lord. The problem is when virtually every member of that minion's race is evil by their very nature, and people feel justified in killing them purely because of their race. I mean, look at humans in the real world. We aren't inherently predisposed towards evil, but we've still produced villains awful enough that fighting them isn't very morally complicated.

Nox Aeterna wrote:

I think it is perfectly fine that the world isnt gray, black and white is good enough for me when it comes to plenty of its parts.

I dont want to stop and judge before killing EVERYTHING cause this one might just not be evil, lets stop and talk about his life and what led him here...

Hope in PF 2.0 this continues.

Orcs are bad, we kill orcs. Yey. Job done.

You don't think it's at least somewhat reasonable to expect you to have an actual reason for killing another sentient being beyond the nature of the body it happened to be born in?


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Subparhiggins wrote:
I find it interesting that you brought that up because from my experience with discussing and reading about this topic Tolkien is actually often referenced as being very directly responsible for the unfortunate racial coding of standard fantasy races.

Tolkien himself was never fully satisfied with the Orcs in his setting, because the idea of an irredeemable race didn't sit well with him as a Catholic.

As far as scientific justifications for evil races go, an "evil gene" (as a shorthand for a biological disposition towards evil) would be very bad at ensuring copies of itself keep getting made. A few people are psychopaths, the rest have to be goaded or deceived into evil by taking advantage of the instincts geared towards helping us survive, and survival is the quintissential True Neutral motive. Often, survival alone mandates the removal of evil from the premises. If there is a fantasy race that's Always Evil it will be for "magical" reasons (such as an evil god owning them body and soul from birth), not scientific.

And frankly, in a setting where creatures formed from cold-rolled sheets of distilled Evil can stop being Evil, the concept of tangible alignment edges close to pointlessness.

Liberty's Edge

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Athaleon wrote:
And frankly, in a setting where creatures formed from cold-rolled sheets of distilled Evil can stop being Evil, the concept of tangible alignment edges close to pointlessness.

I disagree. Alignment remains useful as a descriptor of behavior. What becomes pointless is the idea that it's hard coded rather than a result of the choices one makes.


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Not only is dictating entire races as evil problematic because of how those very such things have been done in the real world by humans despite not being true, it's also absolutely lazy.

If you're going to go through an adventure when all you need to do is smash hordes of mindless minions without any questions, you might as well play a Dynasty Warriors game for a few hours every week.

Half the fun of a Roleplaying Game is to try and deal with complex situations beyond just fighting.

Two warring factions where neither faction is 100% right is interesting, and makes you and your group think: How do I solve this? Is one side more right than the other? Are they equally correct and I have to find a middle ground? Are both sides wrong and there's some far off answer neither side will like but is the morally correct path?

It's so much more interesting that way.

One of the things I love about my group is we don't use "this race is evil", but rather "these individuals/smaller groups are evil". That's so much more interesting when, at first, you can't just charge some hapless Goblin enjoying her breakfast and smash. You talk to her, find out a bit, and she's evil, you'll find out one way or another (assuming you aren't attacked on the spot, self-defense is fair).


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The Sesquipedalian Thaumaturge wrote:

First, thank you to Subparhiggins for eloquently and reasonably presenting some more excellent arguments on the problems with inherently evil races.

Now, some responses to things they haven't covered:

Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Honestly, when the gods are quantifiable things, I'd put a fair amount of stock in some of them claiming they forged (whatever) in their image out of clay and flaming rat parts or whatever. Plus maybe it's my hopeless optimisim, but races of 99.99999% marauding evil jerks have been a genre staple since Tolkein and been accepted fine by the general public. Unless you do something dumb like make it an obvious *insert cultural group here* analogue, I have confidence people won't raise many eyebrows if the race of...I dunno Nilbogs got introduced who live only to destroy, plunder, and boot puppies over yonder in the Misty Mountains.

Then why haven't any of the good gods created inherently good races? Also, I fail to see how "it's been this way for a long time" and "most people seem to be okay with it" are good arguments for why overwhelmingly evil races is good for the game.

The reason the good gods didn't make something inherently good (beyond PF's cosmology barely making sense at a ten foot glance to begin with) is the same reason there's hundreds of evil outsiders and half as many good ones. Because this is a game where the assumption is you're in a party of good/neutral blokes beating up evil stuff. For variety's sake in your evil crushing, there's more types of them. Simple stuff. This is a game universe meant to facilitate heroic adventure, emphasis on the game part.

That and I fail to see any compelling reason to get rid of overwhelmingly evil races beyond...what it'll bring out people's inner subconscious racist? Is that what we're going with, or would you prefer the "more nuanced stories" angle?


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I mean, I'm all for more roll play options but this deeper thinking, analyzing of a game who's setting is largely free form depending on how home brew it is just irks me.

I mean you can have a blast of; kick the door in, kill the monsters, take the loot, next door. But I don't see Munchkin players getting blasted for their game of choice.


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I want a game where I can treat an orc encampment in a different way than I treat a civilized town. A game where my good character can raid that place and slaughter all the orcs without having to worry about the sins that any of them may or may not have committed, because they are evil baby-eating brutes that threaten innocents. They are monsters!

The good thing is that I can still play (and I did) a character who believes in redemption and second chances for (almost) everyone. In the right campaign, of course.

Let me have my 'easy' game as the default, and leave morality issues for when I feel like playing that way.


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I don't get why this is still an issue. The fact that orcs and Goblins aren't inherently evil, they just have a cultural tendency to be is already hard coded into the rules as pointed out even before I linked it. What more exactly do you want?


Hmm...Its almost seems like the moral tone of a campaign would have to be something set in a discussion between the Game Master and the players rather than in an internet forum, and it would be up to the designers to create a rich enough world where many different styles of game play could be welcome.

PS, thank you Pathfinder developers for giving us this with the world of Golarion.

Liberty's Edge

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Megistone wrote:

I want a game where I can treat an orc encampment in a different way than I treat a civilized town. A game where my good character can raid that place and slaughter all the orcs without having to worry about the sins that any of them may or may not have committed, because they are evil baby-eating brutes that threaten innocents. They are monsters!

The good thing is that I can still play (and I did) a character who believes in redemption and second chances for (almost) everyone. In the right campaign, of course.

Let me have my 'easy' game as the default, and leave morality issues for when I feel like playing that way.

I much prefer a game where it doesn't matter what the beings in an encampment look like whether I can go in and kill them, it matters what kind of encampment it is (ie: village or war camp or bandit lair) and what the folks there have been doing recently (ie: attacking a group that hasn't done anything is wrong, attacking murderous raiders is fine).

ie: I'm fine with a Paladin going into an orc encampment full of orc warriors and killing everyone...but only under the same circumstances they'd go into, say, a bandit encampment full of human bandits and kill everyone. Which are not hard circumstances for the GM to arrange.

Treating orcs identically to how you treat a group of humans who behave the same does not introduce moral ambiguity or keep you from killing them unless the GM makes it, it just necessitates a brief description of the bodies of their victims or the like.

Good Aligned PCs killing humans (or other PC race characters) happens a lot in Pathfinder, and is not hard to justify, requiring that the killing of non-humans operate on the same standards is not that big a deal and does not result in angsting over every death and making the game overly complicated. And it both increases verisimilitude and removes some very ugly implications.

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