RPGBOT.Podcast S2E9 – Alignment (part 2 of 2)

Show Notes

Due to the length of the episode, we’ve split this episode into two parts. If you haven’t already, start with part 1.

Special thanks to @roxynotlalonde on Twitter for the question of the week.

Transcript

Random 

I want to very neatly tie that back into what we do here, which is let’s talk about how that plays into a D&D character. Lawful good, you know, one of the the four quadrants. I will follow the rules and help all of the people I can while following those rules. Chaotic good, your archetypal Robin Hood, rob the rich, don’t steal from the poor.

Randall 

Don’t steal the poor themselves.

Random 

Also don’t steal the poor themselves, yes. Lawful evil, a really interesting one, you know that that’s you’re using the system to your own benefit. That’s sort of your typical like, Oh, I wish I could help you but… something. And you, and that’s not someone actively, genuinely wishing they could help you. That’s, you know, the dripping with haha, I’ve manipulated you into this situation. And then of course, your…

Randall 

Lawyers and politicians.

Random 

And then you chaotic evil of like, I’m just going to do whatever I want no regard for consequences or who it hurts. That’s your, your, your one sentence summary of each. But now that we’ve just had like, several conversations about what these different axes could mean, and about what good actually is what evil actually is. Let’s say I do want to pretend I’m still in 3.5 and roll up a lawful good Paladin. What does that mean you should actually do? I know that this is too vague a question, but like in a situation, say, you come across a magic item and, you know, you’d like oh, man, I could use this and it could help me. Or I could donate it. I could, I could sell this instant fortress, and feed, house, and clothe a small country for a year. Are you good if you don’t do that?

Randall 

We had a very real version of this come up in the campaign that Tyler and I are playing in. It’s Icewind Dale, Rime of the Frostmaiden. We murder hoboed this hag. But in our defense, she had murder hoboed these dwarves. So spoilers for Rime of the Frostmaiden. Go forward like two minutes if you don’t want to hear this. We did the murder and we stole this pot and the pot I forget what it’s called. But basically, like you add water to it. And if you add water to it, it creates a rich and nourishing stew that can feed something like 30 or 50 or 100 people every eight hours or something ridiculous, right? We didn’t go full… We didn’t go full socialism. We didn’t bring it and say like “for all. Please come and have it for free.” We didn’t go full like laissez faire capitalism. You know, we weren’t charging three bucks if the guy down the street was charging 3.50. We were like, hey, Everybody’s hungry because the sun hasn’t been up in forever and there’s no food. Give us a nickel. Like, I want a copper for this. And we raised a little bit of money. And we used it to make connections with folks. And everybody in town got fed.

Tyler 

We put an item to use as a public service and our… I’m not going to call us heroes. Our characters used that as a means to an end to do some legitimately good works. Like, we saved half of Ten Towns from a dragon burning all of Ten Towns down.

Randall 

Not with soup.

Tyler 

We didn’t save the other half but we saved… Not with soup, that’s true. The soup wasn’t integral to that part. My point is…

Randall 

We’re terrible.

Tyler 

We’re helping.

Randall 

That’s… okay. Legitimately, and this is again towards this, like, we’re bad people. Why are we bad people? We’re in a situation where if we’re too late, all of Ten Towns is going to burn down. But if we time it right, we will get to fight the dragon before the city burns down, that has our inn and our mummy.

Tyler 

We have pet mummy.

Randall 

Yes. The other option was going to like the seventh town, and guaranteeing we saved three towns. And our logic was, if our inn burns down, I don’t care if the rest of Ten Towns burns down, because there’s no consequences to being jerks.

Tyler 

Kinda, yeah. So like I said, None of our characters are good-aligned. But if we were good- aligned, we find a perhaps an item that we could sell to benefit other people or we find an item that we could just use to directly benefit other people like the, the Cauldron of Plenty. That was the name of the item. So you find some item that you could turn to societal benefit. As a good-aligned character of some stripe, are you morally obligated to give up that benefit to yourself in order to help society at large? And how much does the benefit to yourself factor into that? So like if you have a +1 sword, and that’s going to keep you alive, so you can go save town from a dragon, are you still morally obligated to give up that thing to benefit others?

Randall 

I want to make a meta argument. I think this only matters if your DM or your game master makes it matter.

Tyler 

That’s true.

Randall 

In other words, if you’re a good-aligned character, and you sell the +1 sword and donate the money to like a local soup kitchen or orphanage or whatever it may be and nothing ever comes of it, then at the meta level, you wasted that opportunity. And for you, the player trying to optimize your fun. It was no fun to play to your alignment, because it did you no good. If anything, you’re an idiot, you’re a rube and you fell for it.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

Yeah, I think I think that’s that’s that’s a fair point, right? This is, after all a game I think we can be it’s a very dynamic in that we can learn a lot about ourselves and it’…s and this is why I want to start using it more as a teacher. It’s wonderful, explicitly educational setting to learn a lot about your motivations. A philosopher named Peter Singer. Living philosopher, Australian philosopher, very infamous, very, very infamous philosopher. He’s a radical utilitarian. You’re aware, you’re conscious, you know there are people suffering. He’s very strict. There’s no ethical reason to keep more than $55,000 a year in the United States. The number is slightly different in other countries based on standard of living. Every dime you made past that, you are saying, my nicer car, my more pleasant, comfortable life is more important than stopping a child from dying in a part of the world where that money would make a difference. And you’re only doing it because you’re not watching the kid die. And he actually has a really famous set of examples. The plus one sword or the cauldron of what is it endless nourishment. For him, it’s you’re wearing a really nice suit on your way to getting a job and there’s a kid drowning in a pond next to you. First, you know, there’s a stick nearby, of course, I’ll sure I’ll extend the stick or there’s a rope. Sure I’ll throw the rope. There’s no sticks, no rope, you’re a good swimmer. Do you jump in or not? Sure, of course, I do. Be monstrous to say my suit’s more important than this kid drowning right in front of me. Now I tell you, the money you spent on that suit, if you had given it to a certified World Health Organization, you absolutely just saved another kid from death just as really as you save that kid from drowning. That’s the kind of, like, bright line rule utilitarianism that makes utilitarianism in that understanding really, really, really tough. So were you, were you good? Was it was it was the question, were you good at keeping that? Were you good and holding on to the sword is different, right? Because you could say I’m going to go slay dragons and save people. So I think you can have a more moral understanding. I think, I think selling the soup and then, er having soup, having the donation jar for the soup. That checks out, right? You make yourself a little happier. You feed some people. That, that works. That’s definitely utilitarian. That definitely passes their test.

Randall 

Yeah. Actually now that you said I think what what we did is we actually did put a donation jar out. We weren’t charging your copper, but we were saying like yeah, just.

Tyler 

Well, if that qualifies this good, we’re gonna have to do something else.

Randall 

We’ll come up with it. Bring the dragon back to life. I don’t know. I want to brainstorm for a second. How can we, as dungeon masters or game masters, make alignment and playing to alignment more meaningful? So we’ve talked about metacurrency, whatever it is in your game, whether it be inspiration or something else. That is one simple thing that we can do. We can give good when you do things that play to alignment, even if in the moment it feels either icky or it feels like it’s maybe moving the party backwards. What else can we do?

Random 

We all pause as Randall has gone off script.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

I like using alignment a lot. I honestly do. I’m from this first edition days. The fact that you can be an anything alignment Paladin feels so totally wrong to me. Still, I’m not trying to yuck anybody’s yum. By all means, do it. I’m just saying that’s, that’s where my parameters set. Have have a clear understanding of what law and good mean, right, at a zero session. And then expect people to play to type. I have a situation… we’re doing a super, super homebrewed mutated version of waterdeep slash avernush slash 10% of Icewind Dale right now, and I’m basically having Vazra become a megalomaniac. And she is twisting the arm of the Paladin to go retrieve nethereze items for her so that she can become powerful because nobody really respects me, and I need to have it and I need to be powerful. And she pointed out and point blank, you swore an oath to serve me. Do it or you’re an oath breaker. And the guy who plays the character is like, oh, but I’m a good guy! And so he was like, he walked out, he was like, “this sucks! Like she’s, she’s practically forcing me to do something wrong and if I do something wrong, I did something wrong. And if I don’t do something that my boss tells me to, I broke the law and I’m an oathbreaker.” And so that actually gave them a really tight… he came up with a very clever way to get out of it, which which had to do with you know, telling the truth and making sure everybody knew what he was doing. But have a clear understanding what alignment means and expect your your players to play to type. The alignment that keeps me awake at night, the alignment that scares me, the true wildcat is true neutral. And the druids from the old days, the first edition druids, it’s the fact that they can be all loving and Bambi and, and vegan and all that stuff, and then be like, Oh, if I want to hit level nine, I gotta go to kill my teacher. I’ll be right back. Because it was the idea that you once you got to a certain level, you had to kill a druid of the higher level. And it’s like, hey, you know, hakuna matata, right? It’s, this is, it’s uh, circle of life, which is that was the alignment that truly was terrifying. You know, good and evil. They’re on a scale lawful and unlawful and chaos, they’re on a scale.

Randall 

That’s a little bit different than the Futurama neutral. It’s like, you know, tell my wife, I said hello. So there’s something implicit in what we’re talking about. You talked about, like, have the conversation of what the alignment is? And then let’s let’s roleplay to it, let’s stick to it. Is it the right idea to have our players pick their alignment? Or is it better to just say, let’s play for a little bit, and let’s get a feeling? And what you pointed out, I think, is probably right that, okay, if you’re a Paladin, you have this oath that’s probably going to dictate to some extent what your alignment is. But for a lot of other classes, maybe it is acceptable to like, hey, let’s get through like three sessions, then let’s pick our heads up and see what we think is actually happening,

Random 

And so here’s another really interesting thing: just because it’s written on your character sheet doesn’t mean it’s written in stone. If you start a campaign as one alignment, and you realize I am role playing these decisions, and I am changing, then you can just shift that. And if you think about what we’re doing is cooperative storytelling. That’s character growth. This Paladin that I played that I so often talk about, started life as a lawful neutral Paladin, with zero intention of helping people for the sake of helping people and before we went into Death House had to turn and look at his traveling companions and say, “Do I care enough to help these two little orphans here who want be inside their house?” And they said “yes” and so I said, “Okay, great.” My bond is to my my group, they say we’re going in, I’ll go in. And then by the end of it was doing good, kind of for good sake. That sort of character growth is what we want from story. That’s something that humans really enjoy and getting to act that out, you can absolutely have the mechanical change. You know, go from your your lawful neutral to your lawful good. If you realize… let’s say that you’ve been raised in a very straight laced conservative environment and then as you get out there, maybe you realize, wait, I can just, I can just take this guy’s stuff and run. And he can’t stop me. Maybe you’ve been acting in a lawful manner, but your character actually wanted to be chaotic, wanted to explore this stuff. And so maybe you do that. And and that can be a really cool piece of character building. And then maybe you decide, okay, well, I’ve gotten tired of this, and I’ve gotten tired of the negative consequences, I’m going to go back to being maybe neutral. All of this stuff, is just a way to think about the character you’re playing. And it should not be that the letters dictate how you play, it should be that how you play influences what that character does, over time and how we describe it.

Randall 

You said a few interesting things in what you said. So one, for instance, you have this evil or chaotic characters, who grows tired of the consequences. I think implicit in that is that DM has to build in consequences for those actions. And then two I think, you’ve maybe still asked the question that I’m asking, does it make sense to write something down because it’s what you think your character is going to be? Or does it make sense to write nothing down, play for a little bit, and then realize kind of where we’re at, what’s actually happening?

Random 

I personally, I mean, having played a lot of characters at this point, I find it very helpful to have a place to start. Having a place to start is much easier to say, Okay, well, I have some basic concept of this character, but do I want to lean towards neutral good? Do I want to lean towards lawful evil? If you want to start from your lawful evil and say, no, okay, let’s shade that up to lawful neutral, maybe I, maybe the rest of the group, you know, is leaning enough that I should not be doing things that are inflicting cruelty on others. But I think that it’s really important to give you a place to work from rather than just try and muddle your way through and write it down what you’re, just, what you’re experiencing playing.

Tyler 

Yeah, I totally agree. I I’ve had a lot of characters who I brought in session one and said, I’m going to play this this alignment. Yeah, like it lasts a session or two and then I said, like, I want to take this character a different direction. Like the Paladin that I played in randoms Rise of the Runelord game, Gilder. He was a capitalist Paladin. And let me tell you how hard it is to be a brutal capitalist who is lawful good. Yeah, so you know, the alignment shifted over time as I figured out the character.

Random 

And also as the entire table made fun of the capitalist Paladin.

Tyler 

Yes. I loved that character. That was so much fun. Yeah, like Random said, your alignment doesn’t have to dictate how you play and alignment can change. Your DM doesn’t have to dictate to you “your character is now chaotic evil for your actions.” Like, there is a point where if you’re saying no, my character is still lawful good and everyone around you saying like, “No, this is chaotic evil” you might need to discuss it with your party. But if you’re intentionally deviating from that philosophical outlook that you stated for your character initially, yeah, just change your alignment. It’s a bit of text on the sheet of paper. And in fifth edition, it has essentially no mechanical effects, so changing it doesn’t cost anything. In 3.5 the best alignment to be was neutral because there were a bunch of alignment based effects like Smite, evil and smite good and things like that, that just didn’t affect you if you’re true neutral. So minmaxers, always be true neutral on 3.5. But fifth edition, it’s it’s purely a descriptive marker for your character’s beliefs and actions. So yeah, if your character changes, if your actions change, change your line.

Randall 

So how often should a party discuss their alignment and how they think about the alignment of the actions they’re taking?

Random 

That is a great session zero question.

Tyler 

Yes, I agree.

Random 

Because, as a DM, realistically, there’s a few things that you need to be considerate of. As a DM, you only have so much bandwidth. Particularly if you’ve been listening to a lot of our episodes and you’re trying to incorporate several things. Maybe there’s just too much and alignment is not a thing you want to focus on. But maybe, you know, you want to say alright, we’re gonna start up this campaign. We’re gonna start at this little one shot or maybe even just an arc within a campaign. And we’re gonna say, there’s gonna be some moral quandaries. There’s going to be some real examination of motivations. And we’re going to actually dig into like, like Terry did in a couple times during his class, we’re gonna play through this and then we’re gonna sit here for like half an hour and discuss the moral implications of what you just did. Because that was some murder hoboing, or because that was legitimate good created in the service of… well, the Epic of Gilgamesh in this case. That could be a really cool way to play. Probably not all the time, but I would absolutely want to incorporate some of that in to, you know, maybe let’s do this for a few levels and see what that does.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

To answer the question, how much should you talk about alignment? I think that really depends on the table, if it’s a fun hack and slash game, you know, have at it. Most of the people that I play with it, we really do lean into the collective improvisational storytelling. And I think… I try to think of alignment as, again, I mean, it’s right in the word, right? It’s like, it’s a direction. It’s not fixed, it’s not absolute, and sometimes your, your direction changes. But I think it’s really helpful for everyone to kind of have a sense of how they’re going to approach the vulnerable person, how they’re going to approach the choice between their own, you know, self interest, and the needs of others, and things like that. So I think it’s actually a really helpful narrative tool. I have found, I talk about it more if I have new players. If we’re doing it for a long time, I actually use the tier system. And so, you know, at, you know, level 5 and level 11, I’ll say like, Hey, you know, maybe, and I did this, you know, your your, you said, the neutral, good, but maybe your more chaotic good. And again, my best read in the world who really is acting like neutral evil one shade away from sociopath, but he’s like, no, no, I’m, I’m neutral good. And I’m like, Okay, I guess. I’m not gonna force you. But I like to revisit it. I like to revisit it at the tiers, at the tier points and kind of tweak it there. But I think it’s dialogical. TThere’s an interaction between what the alignment is and how your character plays and how your character plays will over time affect your alignment. And I think it’s, it’s, I think this is something Random said a while ago, this is character growth. You know, and this is part of a, you know, the cool arc of somebody like Heisenberg in Breaking Bad, he was not as evil at the beginning as he was where he wound up. And it has to do with how the campaign went, basically. So not all the time, but I think it’s nice to have a beat every now and again to assess, to think about it, and and encourage people to maybe reflect if they want to tweak it a little bit.

Tyler 

I really like that bit of advice. Discussing it at the tier breaks and also at session zero, like, so we’re gonna do an episode on session zero very soon. And doing kind of a miniature session zero every tier break. Like as the story evolves as things progress really makes sense. And I… honestly that’s a good piece of advice I hadn’t heard. And discussing alignment in your first session zero can really solve a lot of problems. Like, there’s kind of a classic joke in the D&D space, the the lawful-stupid Paladin, and then the chaotic-randumb, like, R-A-N-D-U-M-B, randumb Rogue generally. But those problematic characters who play some wacky alignment that causes problems, like you have the law, the extremely dogmatic, lawful good Paladin, which especially in 3.5 where you had to be that character to be a Paladin, that can cause a ton of problems for everyone else in the group. Like one of the things in the… one of the things in the Paladin oath in 3.5, you can’t be in a party with an evil character. You can’t cooperate with an evil character. And to make sure that you’re not accidentally cooperating with evil characters, Paladins can cast Detect Evil which in e it just detects basically outsiders. In 3.5 you detected creatures alignment. So, like, you could look at you could look around a room be like “which of you are evil? I’m not allowed to talk to any of you or lose all my Paladin powers.” So characters like that, like, knowing that someone wants to play that character ahead of time. Very very important and it’s also a great time if anyone writes chaotic neutral Rogue on their character, give them a good hard look and say “murdering shopkeepers and taking their stuff is not chaotic neutral.”

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

Right. Yeah, I think it’s really interesting. I play a lot of adventurers league, which which is meant to be, you know, mobile and a pickup game. What is it, through edition, through season nine, I think they said “okay, you can be lawful evil but…” and then they had all these things about like, you know, no PvP and all this stuff. And then I think it was in season 10 they said you know what, not even lawful evil. You just… No, no evil characters, and it’s for exactly this idea. A truly evil person will stab another member of the party in the back. And it’s really hard to have players have cooperative fun if one person says “I don’t have to cooperate. I’m evil.” So yeah, so I think you’re absolutely talking about it at the session zero is critical. But I find it really interesting that as as we go on, even Adventurer’s League, the official play, they had to just kind of move, move, alignment evil off to the side for exactly these problems.

Randall 

So what’s interesting, like, we often talk about the idea of the social fix, like getting together, gather with your friends and saying, okay, look, that isn’t acceptable, or we’re not going to do things this way. I mentioned the problem with a proper pickup game is you don’t even have the social fix. Like, somebody could come in and be a complete jerk, wreck the party, and like, alright, well, I’m out, I’m going to go to the next game store next time I want to play and not deal with the consequences of my actions.

Random 

That’s where we see meta lawful evil. Yeah, I mean, realistically, you know, I will admit, in my misguided youth, I have definitely done some detractive to the party actions as a chaotic neutral Rogue. And that’s the thing that some people are gonna want to explore. As long as in the session zero, you understand, we’re all here for a good time. There may be some sometimes that we are three, four, five people, there will be times when we disagree on what the best fun is. Let’s just “Yes, and” in the moment, and then talk about it afterwards. I think that that’s really, really important to set in every session zero, because without it, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

Yeah, that’s well said.

Randall 

All right. Now, perfect. I think we did it. I think I think there was a whole conversation on alignment and how to use alignment in your game. We have a question of the week this week. This week, our question of the week comes to us from @roxynotlalonde on Twitter. If a person becomes a vampire, and does some wrongdoing, who would not normally be inclined towards that wrongdoing, are they morally culpable for their actions? Why, why did we pick this question this week? Really weird.

Tyler 

It felt… Yeah, felt very timely. Yeah, I got asked this on Twitter literally yesterday, and I did not have an answer so, somebody help me out here.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

I’m the philosopher, I’m gonna wait. I’m not going to jump in. I promise.

Random 

Here’s a really interesting thing. Back in the errata 3.0 stuff, we were talking about monster alignments. Are there some things that are inherently absolute good, absolute evil. So undead, particularly, not mindless undead. Like a skeleton I would not call inherently evil. A skeleton is more a force of nature, or necromancy in this case.

Randall 

Or unnature?

Random 

Exactly.

Randall 

Also a xylophone.

Random 

A conscious undead, like a vampire, has the choice to do things that are considered evil versus the choice to do things that are not considered evil. And because I so often bring in random pop culture references, let’s look at Joss Whedon’s Buffy. You have the character Angel, a vampire who got a soul put back in him and then his own spin off. Because David Boreanaz was too pretty. The interesting thing there is that so in this lore, being a vampire means you don’t have a soul. And so the soul is the, the thing around which morality happens. So when he got a soul, suddenly he could feel remorse. And that remorse is what prevented him from eating people and throwing them off buildings and whatnot. If vampires in your world are, you know, your typical Bram Stoker Dracula vampire, where they’re just, they have to consume people, and they’re may be so bored with societal norms because they’ve been around for thousands of years. Oh, wait, that’s Strahd. And yeah, Strahd’s evil. But could you have a vampire that was good? Absolutely. You absolutely could. If a vampire does wrongdoing, then unless you have written into the lore of your world, that they have some reason why that was no longer a choice. Yes, absolutely. They are culpable.

Randall 

Alright.

Tyler 

So I think in 5r vampires when they become a vampire become evil. That is part of becoming a vampire.

Randall 

But why?

Tyler 

Because vampires bad.

Randall 

They didn’t want to answer this question.

Tyler 

The D&D vampire… I, yeah. Where was I going with that thought? Vampires bad. So a perfectly good-aligned character could be come up like in this question, yeah, good-aligned character becomes a vampire against their will, they become evil, they’re now motivated to act in an evil way, and this is one of those kinds of cases where alignment is prescriptive rather than descriptive. Then I get, I guess that is, yeah, that’s literally Strahd.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

There’s two things. There’s, there’s a, there’s a bit where, where the Buddha is talking to his followers. And they say, you know, in Hinduism, they think there’s these six different realms, and one of them is the realm of the gods, and one of them is the realm of the hungry ghosts. He says, Oh, what if you’re, what if you’re wrong, and you go to the realm of the hungry ghosts? He says, Well, if I find myself there, I will talk to these hungry ghosts like I do to you. And I will teach them about the wrongness of attachment, and I will teach them about the wrongness of ignorance, and I will teach them about the wrongness of hatred, and basically says, I’ll preach to them just like I preach to you. Because if they’re aware, it’s the same. And then it goes all the way around the cycle. Neven gets what if you’re right, you go to the gods? And I love this. He’s like, I will preach to them about the wrongness of attachment. And it’s like, I don’t care if they’re gods, they also could improve. They also have problems. I think the Buddha would say if the Buddha was speaking to a vampire, and they’re like, ugh, I’m so hungry, I need to feed. Like, do you? I’m sure you want to. Do you have to? Random gave us just sweetens Buffy, check out The Addiction. 1995 film with Lily Tomlin and she’s a… I’m biased. She’s a philosophy graduate student who gets bit. And it starts with, like, a reference to like a heroine and vampirism. She’s walking around the streets looking for a victim and she sees this old guy talking to himself about Kierkegaard. And she goes to feed on him and he swings around with lightning speed, and it’s Christopher Walken, who is a vampire who won’t feed.

Tyler 

Interestin.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

And he says vampires most vampires are weak. They have bad faith. They’re moral cowards. Are we culpable? To answer the question, absolutely. If we have a choice, and we do it, we’re culpable. Tyler, you’re absolutely right. The… once you become a vampire, you become evil. That’s that’s part of the, you know, that’s maybe not the best writing, that’s their orientation. But it shouldn’t have to be. If they have a conscious will, they make a choice. To answer the question, I would say you’re more morally culpable if you have like, if it’s painful for you to not feed. But if you have a choice, you have a choice about how to do it better and worse.

Randall 

These vampires, they’re walkin’ in the street.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

Yeah. Oh, my god. It’s Christopher Walken doing Kierkegaard, and that’s, that’s how we survives. It’s all Kierkegaard, which is all about freedom. And you have to choose every moment. It’s so freakin good. Such a good movie. The Addiction.

Randall 

I feel like I need to take a look at this. Okay, that’s gonna be good in the show notes. I want to take an answer to this question in a slightly different direction. So I feel like there’s maybe three tiers of it. One, let’s talk about real life for a second. With what we know today about traumatic brain injury. There are people who do terrible things, who we now have an understanding, they are not who they once were. They are literally a changed person. And probably the person they were before their traumatic brain injury would also not like the things that have happened. We still hold them accountable. We still,  you know, we’ll inprison, this sort of thing. With that depressing note, I want to take it to the game world where you asked the question, I feel like there’s almost two implied questions. One, if your characters are having an argument ofr philosophy, what is the argument for them to be culpable and not culpable? And then second, and I think, which is another interesting, how will the society around you view this? Because your hero might be sitting there screaming it’s like, no, wait, they got bit against their will. They didn’t want to become a vampire. The villagers are still going to burn the vampire if they can. And and I think that’s that that third question is maybe the most interesting is like what is going to be the dynamic between how the party feels about the event, how the party feels about the actions, and what they’re willing to do to defend their neighbor, their party member, most likely, if I understand the question correctly, which is to say they’re probably going to try to save the party member. Versus how the society around them is going to view this. And how far will they take that defense for the person in their most inner ring of their compassion circle? versus everyone else?

Tyler 

What if there’s a way to reverse that thing that changed their behavior? A person goes from good person, becomes a vampire does evil as a vampire, and then either, like, has an opportunity to go back to being a good person or is made to go back to being a good person in some way? Are they still morally culpable for the things that they did while they were acting evilly against their their good-aligned will? Like, at the time it may have been, yes, I’m very willingly doing these evil things. But when they return to their former good align self, are they still morally culpable for those actions?

Randall 

I think I would still use kind of the way that I talked about it a second ago, the party probably honestly is still going to defend that character. And the villagers are still going to want to burn the former vampire. Oh, I want to… okay, I want to twist yours one more. What if you, what if you got on some material gain? Like, you somehow got a kingdom because you were a vampire for a minute and you did something cool. Do you have to give up the gains that you got? Yeah, literally, you’re ill-gotten gains. Do you have to give them up in order to return to being good?

Random 

I wouldn’t say necessarily you have to give it up in order to return to being good. Or I would say that if you are actually going to act in a good manner, you should give them up.

Randall 

But I could do so much more good with them in my control.

Random 

Mm…. boy, that sounds really lawful shading towards tyrant there. I would say that, that almost goes back to Wedon’s version of a vampire. Like, yeah, you get your soul back. Now you should feel remorse and remorse, should drive you to do things like give back the kingdom to where rightly, or where it… Yeah, rightly came from, something like that. Yeah. Hey, I think that we’re definitely on the “Yes, you are morally culpable.”

Randall 

And whether you are or aren’t, you’re probably going to be held accountable. Alright, folks, thanks a lot. We’re going to do this live. I’m going to look to my podcast mates. Next week, we’re finally going to do session zero. Yeah?

Tyler 

We sure are.

Randall 

All right. It’s gonna happen, and we mean it this time. I’m Randall James. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at J@ackAmateur and amateurjack.com.

Tyler 

I’m Tyler Kamstra. You’ll find me at RPGBOT.net. Facebook and Twitter at RPGBOTDO TNET and patreon.com/rpgbot.

Random 

I’m Random Powell, you will find me contemplating the very nature of the… very nature of the universe because dang, what a talk we’ve just had. But in general, you’re gonna find me here on RPG bot contributing to the podcast and some articles.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

In real life, you will find me Terry McMullen at Eastern Washington University in the Department of English and Philosophy. And you can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter, @PhilosophyDM.

Randall 

Alright, and we will put links in the show notes. So if you want to reach out or if you want to follow, you’ll be able to find Terry in the shownotes

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

Thank you again for having me. It was a real treat. Thank you so so much. This is a lot of fun. I really appreciate it.

Tyler 

Thank you for,  thank you for joining us. I have learned a lot.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

Thanks!

Randall 

Yeah, this was an amazing conversation. I have to say, selfishly, I’m really looking forward to the notes getting put together for this. I think it’s gonna be a fantastic document, please

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

Send me an email. I’m happy to give you lots of lots of sources, too.

Random 

I’m just like imagining the like eight wiki links to various philosophers. Like, here we go!

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

There you go. Hey, it’s good stuff.

Tyler 

And also Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

The Addiction. Oh hey, my colleague, Mimi. She teaches classes on Buffy the Vampire”s philosophy. So yeah.

Tyler 

That’s awesome!

Randall 

Now we have links to those classes, the syllabus.

Dr. Terry MacMullin 

There’s a huge, huge world of pop culture and philosophy out there. So lots of good books on that.

Randall 

Okay. So if you’re listening right now, take a look at the show notes. There’s some great stuff there. All right, all hail the Leisure Illuminati.

All 

Hail, hail, hail.

Randall 

You’ll find affiliate… nailed it. You’ll find affiliate links to source books and other materials linked in the show notes. Following these links helps us to make the show happen every week. You can find our podcast wherever podcasts are distributed, especially like the fine ones. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate review and subscribe. And please share with your friends. If your question should be the question of the week next week, please email podcast@RPGBOT.net, or message us on Twitter at @RPGBOTDOTNET. Thanks folks. Okay, here’s the deal. When I made the xylophone joke. I think for him we went like “doot-doot”.

Random 

What I actually did was “thanks mr. Skeltal”.

2 Comments

  1. ChromeCoyote March 15, 2022
    • RPGBOT March 15, 2022

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