2009-07-03 Good, Evil, Bollocks

Ah, echo chamber or discussion group? Some people have been writing about the question of good and evil, recently. [1] [2] [3]

Here’s what I like when it comes to religion:

  1. Pick some deities and give them recognizable temples if the party meets them for the first time.
  2. These temples all perform a particular kind of service to the community and thus nobody really wants them to leave.
  3. We’re not talking about cults.

Here’s what I like when it comes to players:

  1. When there’s a fight, we fight.
  2. Enemies on loosing side will try to flee.
  3. Enemies in a desperate situation will try to surrender.
  4. Enemies who have surrendered will spill the beans. All of them. No torture required.
  5. There are no prisons. Punishment is effected bodily, by the people in charge, immediately. No prisons.
  6. If players release prisoners, they generally keep their word and disappear forever. Otherwise the players will never give quarter to anyone.

I’m keeping the definition of good and evil muddied on purpose. All the powerful people in my worlds have strong Machiavellian tendencies. It’s all about power, and keeping it.

Some examples from my Alder King campaign to build on this:

The gods I try to use whenever possible, based on the Wilderlands of High Fantasy and Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia:

But these are just the gods I’ll focus on when adding a temple to a city or a wilderness hex, or picking a god for a cleric. That’s it. I don’t care about alignment so much. Clearly, none of them are obviously good. I also don’t focus much on how the gods interact. I don’t care about world creation, nor do I want to know more details about their religious ceremonies. If a player picks one of them as their god, then we’ll start thinking about it.

These gods also don’t have much of an opinion about orc babies, on how to treat surrendering foes, on war and peace, etc. I side-step the issue of morality and focus on actual play.

Of course, if one of my players is explicitly interested in questions of morality, I’d add some component of that. Or better yet, the player would recommend a way to introduce this element.

Looking at the list, the only thing I notice is that paladins seem to be restricted to Ishtar. This probably reflects my belief that paladins should either focus on being lawful-good independent of any gods, pick their own god, or just join the dark side: There are no paladins. There are only clerics and fighters. As I’m playing a paladin in our Shackled City game right now, I’m starting to think that this would make much more sense.

Continued here: 2009-07-04 Organized Good is an Oxymoron.



excellent write up. btw, I have some friends that pray to Hanuman, “the accursed” Indian monkey god.

le bulette 2009-07-03 15:39 UTC

Yeah, when we visited India and Thailand a while ago, we saw a lot of Rama and Hanuman. And we read Monkey for our BookClub, and I really like flying monkeys, so I felt the need for there to be some strange and crazy happy or at least ambiguous god. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-07-03 16:07 UTC

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