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Re: (TFT) Re: TFT Digest V4 #395


That was a really good answer.  Thanks for sharing your tho
ughts on this -- it's been a really enlightening discussion. 

t of the issue with me, I think, is that I tend to suffer somewhat from wha
t used to be called "Acidie" in the middle ages -- a certain spiritual wear
iness from dealing with the multitude of gray areas in this world we live i
n; so my form of escapism tends to be driven towards bolder, more primary c
olors -- bad guys are bad, good guys are good, and never the twain shall me
et.  But after having read your well thought out points and the other 
comments provided by people on this board, I suspect I'll begin rethinking 
it some.  If I had to predict an outcome for me personally, I'd guess 
I'll still want those bolder colors, but perhaps I'll be more amenable to i
ntroducing some more nuanced characters in the ranks of the NPCs, and some 
more nuanced situations (though admittedly, I've never been a big fan of pu
re hack-and-slashery anyway -- I prefer my players to THINK their way throu
gh things, not just randomly butcher anything that happens to stick its
 head up out of a hole).  Fortunately, since it's still early days in 
my campaign (and the young characters therefore don't really think in terms
 of "nuance," just like most of us didn't when we first started playing thi
s stuff) that change could be gradual and fit well with their characters as
 they develop.

Thanks again for sharing this with us (and me in partic
ular), and I hope that others will weigh in with things I didn't think of o
r fully conceptualize as well -- I can't but become a better GM (and player
, for that matter) because of it!


 From: "Tapley, Mark" <mtapley@swri.edu>
To: "tft@brainiac.com" <tft@b
Sent: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 11:59 AM
Subject: (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 complet
ely with your whole first point. See also below; Teagun reinforces this poi
nt 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 ev
er 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 prima
ry and certain circumstances have been presented to us to explore their nat

    This is a really good point that I didn��t address. “Escapism” can mean at least a couple of diff
erent 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 div
isions between what’s evil and what’s good, what part of th
e 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 d
o see the value in that kind of “ethics reaxed” fiction or 
    I loved E.E. Doc Smith’s “Lensm
an” 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 b
ecause you could rest assured he was doing it for good reasons. Black and w
hite, 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 demo
cracies, slavery and bandits, insufficient food, etc. etc. 
  That gives the players a chance to work on their ethical judgement i
n situations that cannot arise in normal life. I see that as immensely valu
    Suppose you meet someone that you *know* you wi
ll 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 g
ets to “relax” ethically, category (1) is the way to go. I
’d say Death Test (per gem6868’s excellent points) slots sq
uarely into this category. I don’t mean to imply that I have any ar
gument against playing that way sometimes if that’s what the group 

    On the other hand, I usually want to challen
ge my players, when I’m referee, ethically as well as tactically. P
artly, this practically always leads to much more interesting role-playing;
 there’s rarely disagreement on how to kill the most orcs, but usua
lly disagreement on *whether* to kill the most orcs; watching that discussi
on play out gives everyone a much deeper feeling for the motivations of eac
h character (and the players a good chance to think through those motivatio
ns 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 t
o kill things, and listen to the discussions. I like that. I think it leave
s a lot better impression of our hobby.

    Partly, I j
ust worry about “relaxing” ethics. I think thought patterns
, like muscles, get stronger with use. I would not want to spend a lot of m
y time and energy in Doc Smith’s universe, lest my own ethics get f
labby and I tend to start seeing too many real-world issues in primary colo
rs (or black and white) and thinking a planetary nutcracker is the right so
lution 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 G
M or the group if they rotate, needs to set a tone for the 
> world or ar
ea or adventure they are on.  

    Completely agre
ed; 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 20
14 22:24:32 -0500, Neil wrote:

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

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

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

<a lot of great qu

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

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, cru
ising 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. To
lkien 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 stru
ggle against. Orcs filled that need. 

    I totally con
cur 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 si

>  I rather like Smaug. 

    Me too. I r
ather 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 do
ne is…”  (more work)

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

> Classic dungeon delv
ing 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 capture
s 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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