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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 here: http://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/26725/what-is-the-true-origin-of-the-orcs , 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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