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Re: (TFT) Man To Man & GURPS - hack/n/slash ethics
It is interesting that RPG games have skill
development based not just on experience, but on roleplaying and morality.
GM's and players looking at their group contracts
might well ask how this should work. Should
experience be based just on actions, or be
influenced by roleplaying, and if so, how?
Staying in character? Advancing the GM's
pre-arranged plotline? Doing something that has a
good result for the party? Not violating the
character's morality as originally written? Not
violating the GM's morality? Rewards for
roleplaying that entertains the group? How ok is
it for the GM, for PC's to have a morality where
it's ok to kill "not totally evil" people?
Prisoners? Is it ok for players to just say their
characters have a morality that happens to be
convenient for gaming advantages?
Butchery of prisoners, hirelings, and random
NPC's for experience and/or loot can become an
interesting issue. In hindsight, I think if I
were running my old TFT game now with TFT, I
might have players describe their own morality,
and then if they drift towards butchery, ask them
if their character is turning into a butcher, or
if they're just having a gamer's lapse. The
consequences of becoming a butcher would be both
reactions from other NPC's (their moral friends
would tend to desert them or even turn on them or
turn them in), and a shift of their character
that would take some doing to reverse.
Or is there a major disadvantage in clashing with
the culture of the PC's background? That was what
I actually came up with at the time, after
players started hunting other non-hostile
adventuring parties, and plotting their
hirelings' deaths so they could loot them instead
of pay them. I wrote up a Travellers' Code of
Honor, violation of which would get you deserted
by most decent adventurers, though it turned out to be more grey in practice.
I think this sort of moral exploration was one of
the more interesting aspects of gaming, actually.
At the time, I think I didn't get what I was
setting up by filling my world with immoral NPC's
ready to charge into deadly combat, because it
was fun to have lots of wild battles and loot. In
a world like that, maybe it makes sense to become
a trigger-happy butcher of sorts. It fits a lot
of older films - Spaghetti Westerns particularly come to mind.
Of course, Spaghetti Westerns are all about
humans, so at least it doesn't have the "dehumanizing" racism of orcs.
One can also compare to the dehumanization in old
Westerns where "Injuns" are the antagonists, or
in films (or reality) about wars vs. "Japs", "Krauts", "Gooks", etc.
I'm also thinking of Emma Peel in The Avengers TV
show, who must have scores or hundreds of people,
with little remorse. Particularly the scene where
she gets to the flank of a firing squad with a
submachinegun and doesn't have them all drop
their guns, she blows them all away. The examples
go on and on. These were typical of "Rated G" TV reruns when I was a kid. ;-)
Another thing that comes to mind is the situation
where the GM has characters that are basically
designed to make the players want to kill them
with extreme prejudice, even though they aren't
pure evil - maybe just extreme scumbags.
Particularly when the situation makes it imprudent to kill them. ;-)
As for Tolkien orcs(/goblins), where does the
idea that they had no women or children come
from? I don't think it's correct. (See discussion
, for example.) Sounds like they may have
varieties from several sources, but then they
breed like everything else. Maybe there are even
females in the ranks? The only place where they
get individually made by some other process in in
the Peter Jackson films. Because in America,
decapitation and cannibalism are ok for films but
sex (especially ugly or inter-racial sex) is not?
I always marvel when people talk about Dwarves
having no women, either. Or the women having
beards... Of course, some games actually do
define their races in sexually interesting ways.
The link above also mentions one orc origin idea
of Tolkien's was that (some or all of them) may
have been created from beasts and so (according
to another form of interesting murderous
moralizing logic) have no souls. Oh boy,
something we can kill without feeling bad. ;-)
An even worse situation comes up in MMORPGs,
where in order to level up, you basically need to
mass murder hundreds and thousands of weaker
beings that generate out of thin air at regular
intervals, for which there are only rewards and
no consequences or impact on anything but your
character's ever-increasing ability and wealth... :-P
At 08:32 AM 8/4/2014, Tapley, Mark wrote:
"What?s the most evil creature in Tolkien?s
universe that has a speaking part?"
Well there was Smaug, though I rather like Smaug.
And it seems to me the orcs do actually talk when
not in combat, for example in the bits where they
are discussing eating Merry and Pippin, and when Bilbo is captured.
Tolkien introduced into his world
something that doesn?t exist in ours - purely
evil man-like things that it?s OK to slaughter.
Many games and campaigns have an insidiously
deadly travesty of that thing - *ethically*
man-like things which it is *not* OK to
slaughter but which players are nevertheless
expected to slaughter, because they carry the same name, ?orc?. This is bad.
Very good point.
But if the world is to make sense, evil
and good have to be mixed, in my NPC?s as in
the party I?m refereeing for, because that?s
the way it is in the real world - always has
been, always will be. So, when the party muses,
?What are we going to do with these prisoners?
Our pet wolves could save a couple of days?
supplies by eating them?? NPC?s are going to be
aghast and the experience hammer is going to be
out. Conversely, when they realize they could
dig a short irrigation ditch, quadruple the pig
farm output, and put an end to the orc
settlement?s *need* to raid, rather than simply
killing all of the orcs in the settlement, I?ll reward that copiously.
With experience that they can then put into
combat ability? Seems to me this is where it
would be nice (though of course more complex) to
have different sorts of intangible rewards and
penalties for actions. Of course, there are also
practical rewards and penalties from logical consequences.
This places some complexity both on me
as referee - I have to come up with a painful
situation where killing is actually the path of
least evil, if I want a melee (and then I have
to deal with orphans in the aftermath of the
battle) - and on my players - what *do* they
do with prisoners; when do they choose
?subduing blows? or ?Rope? instead of
?Fireball?? If all that?s wanted is a
hack/n/slash, hash-marks in the XP column,
bloodfest, this stuff gets in the way.
I claim that?s not what a role-playing game is about.
Ya, especially when you're using the "add DX when you kill" experience system.
Seems like systems that track karma and/or inner
personal conflict, as well as alienation by
others, would be appropriate. And, using an alternate experience system too.
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