log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Candlekeep Mysteries: Mazfroth’s Mighty Digressions ethics issues

Starfox

Adventurer
Hi,
Possible spoilers. I try to keep specifics out of my post, but I suppose replies may bring up details so if you are spoiler-sensitive, I advice you to look elsewhere.

I am currently prepping the Candlekeep Mysteires: Mazfroth’s Mighty Digressions adventure, and find it has a tricky ethical question. The prime antagonists are not violent, rather reasonable, and can participate in a peaceful solution. The problem is that they are chaotic evil monsters that comit casual murder of essentially random strangers they never met, which is why the PCs are tasked with finding them. This means that diplomatic PCs risk becoming accessories to their crimes. On the other hand, murderhobos could bring this to an ethically acceptable but very violent solution. I'm not used to situations where murderhoboing is the best moral option, and my players are not murderhobos - I fear they will feel this is a bait and switch solution.

Has anyone who has run this adventure seen this problem, and what happened? Any tips for me on how I should play it?
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Starfox

Adventurer
The villains are creating and selling valuable items that after a random period of time turn into murderous monsters. If confronted about this they can be talked to in a diplomatic way, but see no inherent issues with what they are doing. They can be persuaded to stop for the right reward, but are not willing to accept punishment for what they have already done.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I'd say... play it straight.

Your players are going to walk into this situation with a big ol' chunk of information about how these NPCs act and interact. They'll probably try to talk the NPCs out of doing horrible things and might succeed.

If they fail at this task, killing the NPCs is an equally viable solution both for their previous crimes and intention to commit further violence. In fact, they'll likely attack the party to "Defend Themselves", taking any moral question out of the equation when the players are forced to kill in self-defense.

Shouldn't be much of an issue.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
The villains are creating and selling valuable items that after a random period of time turn into murderous monsters. If confronted about this they can be talked to in a diplomatic way, but see no inherent issues with what they are doing. They can be persuaded to stop for the right reward, but are not willing to accept punishment for what they have already done.

Yes, this adventure has quite a bit of grey morality in it.

The villains are essentially just trying to sell knock off goods. It just so happens that the knockoffs are actually murderous monsters. They villains aren't actively trying to kill anyone, they just need money, and see this as the most expedient way!

Point is, the PCs can absolutely resolve the situation peacefully, they can even talk the villains into changing tactics to something less likely to result in carnage. As a matter of fact this seems the easier route, a brute force approach is likely to REALLY tax a 2nd level parties capabilities!

So, I'd say run this straight and see what the group can come up with.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I ran it as it says. The PCs did try to negotiate initially with them, but were mostly like "What you're doing is wrong, give us the true books, and stop this business, and we won't kill you." The villain leader did try to say "Sure, but you need to give me X amount of money."

They couldn't agree so they fought. This is the most likely thing to happen, as the module does point out how much money the villains will take to stop, which is likely much more than the PCs even have.
 

slobster

Hero
I agree with what most people have said here, fighting to stop grifters from putting people into mortal peril for personal profit does not meet my personal threshold for "murderhobo-ing".

That said, you know your crew better than any of us. If you think they will feel cheated or angry if they are given a choice between justified but regrettable violence and being accessories to murder, then make a third option more possible. Make one of the opposition someone who has been having doubts about the morality of the whole thing, and let the PCs pick up on that internal division with an Insight check or some good RP. Let them play the members of the opposition against each other. Allow them the same outcome as if they paid the bribe, but from a satisfying social conflict instead of just coughing up the cash.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I ran it as it says. The PCs did try to negotiate initially with them, but were mostly like "What you're doing is wrong, give us the true books, and stop this business, and we won't kill you." The villain leader did try to say "Sure, but you need to give me X amount of money."

They couldn't agree so they fought. This is the most likely thing to happen, as the module does point out how much money the villains will take to stop, which is likely much more than the PCs even have.

If the PCs are 100% straightforward then yes this will likely result in violence. But there are some other options.

The villains DID NOT want their books ending up in Candle Keep (likely too high profile) and the adventure explicitly states that the villains will replace the real books there, with some coaxing - though it is quite confusing if they want money for this too, or not - I'd say if the PCS seize on this angle and play up the dire consequences of crossing Candle Keep (real or not) the villains should cave.

The adventure also states that the villains are open to other revenue streams - so if the PCs can "teach them to fish..." without the violence - that too is an option.

Frankly the PCs need to learn to deal with shady/murderous individuals anyway , otherwise it's going to be a very violent adventuring career (which may be their preferred goto - and that's ok, but dangerous).
 


Dausuul

Legend
The prime antagonists are not violent, rather reasonable, and can participate in a peaceful solution. The problem is that they are chaotic evil monsters that comit casual murder of essentially random strangers they never met, which is why the PCs are tasked with finding them. This means that diplomatic PCs risk becoming accessories to their crimes. On the other hand, murderhobos could bring this to an ethically acceptable but very violent solution.
"Becoming an accessory" implies that you have chosen not to report a crime to the authorities. Are there authorities to whom the PCs could report the antagonists? (That's a real question, I haven't read the adventure.)

If there is no authority, then it's impossible to be an accessory. You don't have a moral obligation to play judge, jury, and executioner*. The antagonists are clearly in the wrong, and the PCs are justified in levying violent retribution, but they would also be justified in seeking a nonviolent solution.

*Unless you are yourself the authority, such that judge, jury, and executioner are part of your job description. I'm assuming that is not the case here.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
. This means that diplomatic PCs risk becoming accessories to their crimes.

Not really,

It means diplomatic PCs have serious leverage.

The villains are such that they don't quite know how human justice works - other than the fact that humans are perfectly willing to come in an murder them at the drop of a hat (since this has already happened).

Industrious PCs can convince this group that giving up the books to Candle Keep and possibly paying reparations (this one would be a tough sell, but maybe there's a PC with serious persuasion in the party), is the only way they get to continue operating at all.

And as already stated, diplomatic PCs are not accessories - there is no interest (more than likely) in a cover up, just recovery of goods.
 

D1Tremere

Adventurer
Caveat emptor!

Seriously though, codes of ethics are likely to vary greatly in such a diverse and mutable world. One thing that is more straight forward, at least in this circumstance, may be the law. The initial book is sold in the markets of Baldur’s Gate, a city known for having particularly strict laws regarding counterfeit goods and selling dangerous magical material. They also have a mercenary company called the Flaming Fists that they would be more than happy to dispatch when questions of improperly taxed dangerous magical goods comes up!
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
"Becoming an accessory" implies that you have chosen not to report a crime to the authorities. Are there authorities to whom the PCs could report the antagonists? (That's a real question, I haven't read the adventure.)

It's set in Baldur's Gate, so you can report them to the Guard (because they actually sell their books in the wealthy district) or to the Flaming Fist... the Fist probably won't care without being bribed, the Guard will probably just kick them out of the wealthy market.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I haven't read this one yet and maybe this makes me old fashioned but the people selling the books are responsible for every innocent death especially if they are aware of the consequences of their actions. So no, I don't think the PCs are being murder hobos if they kill them.

Ideally they could subdue them and take them to trial, but if that's not an option then personally I would assume that they will continue the pattern. They have shown that any time it's beneficial for them to murder innocents directly or indirectly they will do so. That doesn't deserve mercy IMHO.

Of course maybe I've just been playing too much Assassin's Creed lately. 🤷‍♂️
 


I haven't read this one yet and maybe this makes me old fashioned but the people selling the books are responsible for every innocent death especially if they are aware of the consequences of their actions. So no, I don't think the PCs are being murder hobos if they kill them.
Worth pointing out that there are ZERO innocent deaths from their actions.

The adventure points out that they are only copying valuable books: the cheaper books they sell are the real deal. They have sold two valuable books, both of which ended up in Candlekeep.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Worth pointing out that there are ZERO innocent deaths from their actions.

The adventure points out that they are only copying valuable books: the cheaper books they sell are the real deal. They have sold two valuable books, both of which ended up in Candlekeep.
I haven't read it, but the intent is clear: they don't care who dies as long as they have something to gain. Not only did they think it was perfectly okay if people died as a direct cause of their actions, they went through with the plan. That is still a crime.

It's kind of like blaming the bullet for killing someone after firing a gun indiscriminately into a crowd, or saying that it wasn't a crime because you happened to get lucky and miss everyone. 🤷‍♂️
 


Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Yes, this adventure has quite a bit of grey morality in it.

The villains are essentially just trying to sell knock off goods. It just so happens that the knockoffs are actually murderous monsters. They villains aren't actively trying to kill anyone, they just need money, and see this as the most expedient way!
Wow. This is the "randomly shooting a gun at a train with no specific intent to kill someone" type scenario. It's reckless behavior so likely to cause great bodily harm or death to strangers than it's the equivalent of actual intent to murder.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top