Using dreams to influence character's roleplaying of alignment




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    Using dreams to influence character's roleplaying of alignment

    Ok, so one of my player's character is a paladin. This guy is a fantastic roleplayer, but his character isn't really good. Now I don't want to strip him of his powers until he's made a concious decision, but I don't think it's really fair to let him get away with it, so I was thinking of giving him a piece of paper after the party sleeps next which describes a dream to him.

    The party is currently in a town flooded with refugees. They're begging on the streets, and the paladin is walking past, just ignoring them, not doing anything to aleviate the suffering all around him. He didn't even really show any regrets about their situation. Now, I see charity as an essential part of good, and so I want to send him a message. I want the dream to show him walking past the beggars who are all round them, because he's concentrating too much on the law (indicated by eclesiatical books) and accidentally walking into the arms of evil, turning him back on the crying old man who represents his god.

    I guess the question is: is this too heavy handed? Am I interfeering to much in the RPing of the player? Or is this a kinda cool, in-game way of letting the player know something's up that will make the RPing more exciting?
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    I'd do it---assuming that the player in question has a clear understanding of the Paladin's Code and what constitutes Good in your campaign.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Wormwood; Sunday, 26th October, 2003 at 09:26 PM.
    /ˈwərmˌwo͝od/ noun. a state or source of bitterness or grief.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olive
    Ok, so one of my player's character is a paladin. This guy is a fantastic roleplayer, but his character isn't really good. Now I don't want to strip him of his powers until he's made a concious decision, but I don't think it's really fair to let him get away with it, so I was thinking of giving him a piece of paper after the party sleeps next which describes a dream to him.

    The party is currently in a town flooded with refugees. They're begging on the streets, and the paladin is walking past, just ignoring them, not doing anything to aleviate the suffering all around him. He didn't even really show any regrets about their situation. Now, I see charity as an essential part of good, and so I want to send him a message. I want the dream to show him walking past the beggars who are all round them, because he's concentrating too much on the law (indicated by eclesiatical books) and accidentally walking into the arms of evil, turning him back on the crying old man who represents his god.

    I guess the question is: is this too heavy handed? Am I interfeering to much in the RPing of the player? Or is this a kinda cool, in-game way of letting the player know something's up that will make the RPing more exciting?
    I have a question how does the player see his paladin what his his concept? If he is playing him as a tough crusader against evil them maybe that is more his focus.

    I don't think every pladadin needs to be a big ole softie when it come to the poor.

    Now if helping the downtrodden is an important aspect of his god then yes he needs a wake up call.

    I agree that good should care about others but sometimes DMs expect all good characters to be social workers always ready to take up the cause. And sometimes maybe the good character has other things on their agenda at the moment maybe they need to focus on taking down the evil overlord and don't have the time or the reasources to help every needy person who comes along.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wormwood
    I'd do it---assuming that the player in question has a clear understanding of the Paladin's Code and what constitutes Good in your campaign.
    See, that's the problem. The code is fine. The what constitutes good bit isn't so clear. That's why I want to indicate to him there may be a problem. If we had it all down, then I'd make sure that he was punihsed if he did something evil, but we haven't really discussed what makes good different from neutral. SO I want to provoke some thought without just sending him an email saying 'Tom, what do you think makes your PC good exactly?'

    I'm also interested in how different DMs have used dreams in their games...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elf Witch
    I don't think every pladadin needs to be a big ole softie when it come to the poor.

    Now if helping the downtrodden is an important aspect of his god then yes he needs a wake up call.
    Sure, but as far as I'm concerned they need to be sensetive to the needs of the oppressed, i.e. he needs to respond. I mean it is important to his god too, but I'd expect that of any player of a really good character.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olive
    See, that's the problem. The code is fine. The what constitutes good bit isn't so clear. That's why I want to indicate to him there may be a problem. If we had it all down, then I'd make sure that he was punihsed if he did something evil, but we haven't really discussed what makes good different from neutral. SO I want to provoke some thought without just sending him an email saying 'Tom, what do you think makes your PC good exactly?'

    I'm also interested in how different DMs have used dreams in their games...
    In one of the games I played in I had as a feat prophetic dreaming. In my dreams he would give me puzzles to slove. One time he gave me such a good one that it drove me crazy trying to figure it out. The dream seemed so applicable to so many things going on in the game at the time. I never did get it right but I had fun trying.

    I think dreams can be a good thing as long as they are not vague so that the player has no ideas at all but they shouldn't be like being hit over the head with an iron pan either.

    I think dreams and visions are excellent ways for a diety to communicate with a follower and they don't have to be a cleric or a paladin either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olive
    Sure, but as far as I'm concerned they need to be sensetive to the needs of the oppressed, i.e. he needs to respond. I mean it is important to his god too, but I'd expect that of any player of a really good character.
    I see what you are saying. You expect him to have some kind of feelings about what is happening not that you expect him to do anything. I can see that because unless a person has become so harden to suffering of those around them it should affect them somehow. It seems rather callous and selfish not to be affected.

    Though it makes an intresting conflict what happens to a person who has seen to much and the only way they can go on is to protect themselves from the pain. Does this mean they are no longer good? What if they are out there doing the good fight willing to die to stop evil and doing it for no other reason than it is the right thing to do? Are they good or neutral?

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    ° Ignore Elder-Basilisk
    A few notes on the situation.

    First, I think it's unreasonable to expect even the most truly good character to be unable to ignore suffering in their actions. There are many situations where people suffer and there is little that the good character can do to alleviate it. I don't know what the character's situation is at the moment but a paladin ought to be able to ride after the evil villains--even through the tent city of starving and destitute refugees--without having to stop and try to put every other wrong he sees right. To stop pursuing his goal would not usually lead the paladin to accomplish great things in his work with the poor. Instead, it will usually result in more harm as nobody else is able to take the role he abandoned and stop the villain and he doesn't solve much in the long term attempting to help the refugees.

    There are also a good number of reasons why he might not act to save the poor. It's not fashionable to say so but many people who are poor and destitute are so not because of circumstances but because of destructive habits and behaviors that they choose. A gold piece to buy a room for the night and enough booze to pass out on the steps of the inn anyway won't help them. The paladin can feel regret over their situation but can't really do a whole lot about it--and the "not a whole lot" he can do about it will often interfere with his current mission.

    What's important about these things is that, not only are there valid reasons for not acting; there are also valid reasons for not feeling. Just because someone rejects truth and wisdom and chooses a path that leads to their destruction does not mean that the paladin has to be miserable forever. To say that he ought to feel sorrow forever is to enable the bitter, hostile, and self destructive to forever withold joy from those who do actually want it. And that's not just.

    All of that doesn't mean that the paladin should never feel compassion or that he shouldn't stop and remove disease from an orphan or pay a beggar boy good wages to carry his torch while in the city or hire him to groom his horse (of course there's no need for that in 3.5). And it doesn't mean that the paladin should not be distressed over the plight of the poor of the city in your campaign (although I would say that the paladin has no obligation to retain that distress as a constant emotional burden to the exclusion of other emotions). I have found D&D however, to center more around actions than emotions. It's not usually a game where a paladin ought to walk down the street, see a poor person and spout a pseudo Shakespearean solliloqy about how he wants to help but has few options in words that are a mix of Thomas Sowell and Plato.

    As to dreams, I made quite a bit of use of them in a game I ran a few years ago. My advice is twofold:

    1. Do it. It's cool and adds a lot to a game. It also adds to the feel of a more mythic reality instead of a modern world dressed up in armor and magic and helps make the game more King Arthur than Harry Potter.

    2. Don't worry too much about being heavy-handed in dreams. If you don't go for the gospel of Matthew style angel appearing in the dream and saying something to the effect of "Bethlehem isn't safe for you; take Mary and Jesus and go to Egypt" but instead opt for something more symbolic (perhaps like the vision of the beasts in the biblical book of Daniel or the various symbols in Revelation) don't worry about being too obvious. If my experience is any guide, players are unlikely to grasp even obvious symbolism immediately. If you deliberately make it obscure, it's likely to be indecipherable. And overly obvious messages are a more forgivable (and easier to correct) error than inscrutable ones. If your players think they're too obvious, you can always make your next dreams a little more obscure.

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    This thread is turning into another of these how a paladin should act threads. Which I'd rather not have happen. The point is that while he's playing up the lawful aspect of his class wonderfully, he's not doing anything good in particticular. I'm trying to come up with a good in game way of suggesting this to him. I'm not really that concerned if ENWorld thinks my interpretation of a paladin's behaviour is right or not, I'm more concerned with using dreams to influence a player.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elder-Basilisk
    As to dreams, I made quite a bit of use of them in a game I ran a few years ago. My advice is twofold:

    1. Do it. It's cool and adds a lot to a game. It also adds to the feel of a more mythic reality instead of a modern world dressed up in armor and magic and helps make the game more King Arthur than Harry Potter.

    2. Don't worry too much about being heavy-handed in dreams. If you don't go for the gospel of Matthew style angel appearing in the dream and saying something to the effect of "Bethlehem isn't safe for you; take Mary and Jesus and go to Egypt" but instead opt for something more symbolic (perhaps like the vision of the beasts in the biblical book of Daniel or the various symbols in Revelation) don't worry about being too obvious. If my experience is any guide, players are unlikely to grasp even obvious symbolism immediately. If you deliberately make it obscure, it's likely to be indecipherable. And overly obvious messages are a more forgivable (and easier to correct) error than inscrutable ones. If your players think they're too obvious, you can always make your next dreams a little more obscure.
    Thanks, that's really useful advice.

    The god in question here is a heavily altered Bahamut. As you migth know, a traditional way for Bahamut to appear is as a kindly old man with 6 canaries. So I'll probably have a old man calling out to him, and a 5 headed dragon as evil. That doesn't seem too unobvious.

    Tom (the player) already asked for me to have Bahamut send him a dream with the details of how he could become a dragon rider. The symbolism wasn't very symbolic at all, more just breif obvious descriptions of the PC doing things...

    I'll post it below.
    ---------------
    Istar's vision:
    In your meditation you receive a vision of the six canaries. Each shows you a vision of you performing a deed or task.

    The first canary is Vehuel, the Dragon of Protection. He shows you a vision of yourself protecting a group of innocents from an Evil Dragon.

    The second canary is Mahue, the Dragon of Community. He shows you defending a good dragon from attackers, and trying to show those attackers that

    The third canary is Patiel, the Dragon of Compassion. He shows you giving mercy to an enemy who would not have given it to you.

    The fourth canary is Decaytus, the Dragon of Law. He shows you obeying the laws of a community, despite thinking that those laws are unjust. You see yourself arguing, in a clam and measured way for changes to the laws to make them fairer and more equitable.

    The fifth canary is Theoriel, the Dragon of War. He shows you leading the charge into battle, and not retreating despite the turning tide. Eventually, after much loss, your side wins against all hope.

    The sixth canary is Abael, the Dragon of the Winds. He shows you travelling the world looking for new challenges to overcome and new ways to live your life in the service of Bahamut.

    Abael tells you ôlive by these examples, and you heartĺs desire may be realisedö. The next thing you know, it is morning and your vigil is over.
    Olive speaks delicious words of truth. - Tewligan

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    ° Ignore Elder-Basilisk
    The dream looks interesting. At the moment, there's nothing I could interpret as relating to the specific behavior you're talking about though. It might be more flavorful if instead of explaining what the character is doing, you describe it and leave it to him to interpret it.

    For instance:
    "The canary that you somehow recognize as Veheul, lands in front of you. Your vision fades slowly into mist and, as it clears, you hear screams of panic. You are standing in a narrow defile with high rocky walls on either side and a muddy stream running down the center. A woman in the robes of a pilgrim runs past you carrying a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. An old man with a gray beard is thrown from his panicked and rearing horse into the mud. A dark shadow passes overhead and, looking up, you see the winged form of a dragon streak by and land in the canyon in front of the fleeing woman. His scales flash a brilliant crimson as he furls his wings. As you draw your sword, he reaches out and, with a flick of his tail, sends the woman sprawling. Slowly, he extends his neck towards her as she shies away from him, pulling her baby close to her chest.

    Before his fangs can close around her, you are there, standing between the woman and the dragon. Your sword rings as you swing it with all your might and leaves a bloody trail of rent scales in its wake.

    Again, your vision fades, leaving only the canary. "Go and do likewise," he says.

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