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(TFT) Re: TFT Digest V4 #395

On Aug 5, 2014, at 12:13 PM, Jeffery wrote:

> Perhaps that's a discussion that should be had at the tavern where you were planning this little soiree in the beginning.

	In my opinion, you are exactly right with this! I think I agree completely with your whole first point. See also below; Teagun reinforces this point beautifully.

> And oh, by the way, I’m guessing that such a discussion would never happen in just about any game 
> you or I have ever played in,...

	It has, definitely, in games I’ve refereed and in games I’ve played. But also see below.

> ….The whole point of these games is that colors are more primary and certain circumstances have been presented to us to explore their nature.

	This is a really good point that I didn’t address. “Escapism” can mean at least a couple of different things:

1) The world is black and white, so it’s fine to just turn off the part of our souls that does the gray-scale, intimate divisions between what’s evil and what’s good, what part of the opponent’s actions are motivated by pure greed and what parts are honorable goals that just happen to oppose ours, etc. etc. 
	I get tired of making those sometimes hard decisions myself, and I do see the value in that kind of “ethics reaxed” fiction or play. 
	I loved E.E. Doc Smith’s “Lensman” series, for example. The bad guys were (generally) bad all the way through, and the good guys good all the way through. If a good guy did pretty much the exact same thing a bad guy was doing, that was still fine because you could rest assured he was doing it for good reasons. Black and white, no moral ambiguity, kill ‘em all and let their evil gods sort ‘em out.

2) The world is morally complex as is our world, but *different* from our world. Magic, Kingdoms instead of representative democracies, slavery and bandits, insufficient food, etc. etc. 
	That gives the players a chance to work on their ethical judgement in situations that cannot arise in normal life. I see that as immensely valuable. 
	Suppose you meet someone that you *know* you will never see again? Can you insult them? Stab them? Mentally force them to fight to the death for you? Is that ethical? (cf. Summon Myrmidon).

	If the referee and players want a game where everybody gets to “relax” ethically, category (1) is the way to go. I’d say Death Test (per gem6868’s excellent points) slots squarely into this category. I don’t mean to imply that I have any argument against playing that way sometimes if that’s what the group wants.

	On the other hand, I usually want to challenge my players, when I’m referee, ethically as well as tactically. Partly, this practically always leads to much more interesting role-playing; there’s rarely disagreement on how to kill the most orcs, but usually disagreement on *whether* to kill the most orcs; watching that discussion play out gives everyone a much deeper feeling for the motivations of each character (and the players a good chance to think through those motivations themselves).

	Partly, there is a lot of category (1) entertainment out there. It worries me, and I suspect it subconsciously worries a lot of people. When family members, friends, parents of nephews, etc. hear stories from my games, they tend to relax, forget their worries about having their kids participating in an exercise where they roll dice to kill things, and listen to the discussions. I like that. I think it leaves a lot better impression of our hobby.

	Partly, I just worry about “relaxing” ethics. I think thought patterns, like muscles, get stronger with use. I would not want to spend a lot of my time and energy in Doc Smith’s universe, lest my own ethics get flabby and I tend to start seeing too many real-world issues in primary colors (or black and white) and thinking a planetary nutcracker is the right solution for any problem.

	So, I’m in favor of category (2) at least some of the time (and in my case, a preponderance of the time).

On 04 Aug 2014 22:20:12 -0400, gem6868 wrote:

> The GM or the group if they rotate, needs to set a tone for the 
> world or area or adventure they are on.  

	Completely agreed; the players pretty much can’t do it themselves in most cases.

> Where does the game "Paranoia" come into this morality? 

	I have no idea, but if they are actually all out to get you, then it isn’t….

On 4 Aug 2014 22:24:32 -0500, Neil wrote:

> But then, my game is about as anti-Tolkein as it gets.

	Can’t comment on that, regrettably not having played in your game, 
	But Tolkien wasn’t by any means all black and white; just that his Orcs were all black. But Boromir? The age-old conflict between dwarf and elf, both nominally “good” guys? The arguments around the table with the ring on it at Rivendell? Heck, Merry and Pippen stealing veggies?  Saruman? Gollum, as I pointed out to begin with? Tolkien painted gray-shades a lot, I think. 
	Not sure this is what you meant, though?

On 04 Aug 2014 23:24:28 -0700 Peter wrote:

<a lot of great questions!>

> As for Tolkien orcs(/goblins), where does the idea that they had no women or children come from?

	…my vaguely-remembered reading of the Silmarillion. I probably need to go back and check. But I’m pretty sure there was no mention of orc women or children anywhere in the Hobbit or LoTR? And Frodo and Sam and Gollum, cruising across Mordor to Mt. Doom, surely would have seen them, if they’d been there?

> Oh boy, something we can kill without feeling bad. ;-)

	That’s the point of their existence. Tolkien was a pretty firm Christian; he could not have written “Game of Thrones”. He *needed* his heroes to be heroic, his protagonists to be truly sympathetic. But to be both, they had to have something to struggle against. Orcs filled that need. 

	I totally concur with your point about MMORPGs. Part of the Category 1 (above) problem I see. Some small part of the time, OK, but MMORPGs are a very large time sink. 

>  I rather like Smaug. 

	Me too. I rather don’t like Gollum, which is why I nominated him. But, tastes may well differ! 

> 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.

	“The reward for a job well done is…”  (more work)

On  5 Aug 2014 08:09:51 -0700, Teagan wrote:

> Classic dungeon delving is nothing more than home invasion for the purposes of theft and murder.

	Exactly! I think this agrees with Jeffrey’s point too. This is a really concise statement that beautifully captures some of what I see as the limitations of the original dungeon-crawl idea.

	Many thanks all for the very insightful questions and comments; more most welcome! 
													- Mark
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