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D&D 5E Ethics of Killing Vat Spawn?

Zardnaar

Legend
What's a vat spawn?

Basically creature that are not born but are created in a vat. There are no children may not even have females or gender.

An example are the Giaks from Magnamund. Basically souped up Goblins created in vats and infused with the God of Darkness and evils essence.

A non evil vat spawned Giak would require a wish spell or other magic. They're sentient in terms of feeling pain and being able to think (up to a point) but they can only be created by the servants of the darklords and have very limited free will (essentially none).

Context I'm thinking of vat spawned baddies replacing the usual D&D fodder for a post apocalyptic game.

Giak

 
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Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
What's a vat spawn?

Basically creature that are not born but are created in a vat. There are no children may not even have females or gender.

An example are the Giaks from Magnamund. Basically souped up Goblins created in vats and infused with the God of Darkness and evils essence.

A non evil vat spawned Giak would require a wish spell or other magic. They're sentient in terms of feeling pain and being able to think (up to a point) but they can only be created by the servants of the darklords and have very limited free will (essentially none).

Context I'm thinking of vat spawned baddies replacing the usual D&D fodder for a post apocalyptic game.

IMHO, the mode of creation has no bearing on the ethics of killing. With sufficiently advanced technology, we might create an artificial womb at some point and I doubt anyone would consider granting less rights to the children born this way. In a fantasy setting, sentient can be created in very varied way (parthenogenesis, vats, acts of various gods, a wizard using Wish...) and I don't think it has an effect on the ethics of killing things.

I'd have no qualm in killling Giaks, not because they are vat-born but because, as you pointed out, they lack free-will. They are rabid dogs, possessed by an outside force making them incompatible with civilized life. I think killing them should be treated like killing said dogs, acceptable by many -- even if they had baby giaks since they would be basically be like baby xenomorph, irrespective of their mode of conception.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
IMHO, the mode of creation has no bearing on the ethics of killing. With sufficiently advanced technology, we might create an artificial womb at some point and I doubt anyone would consider granting less rights to the children born this way. In a fantasy setting, sentient can be created in very varied way (parthenogenesis, vats, acts of various gods, a wizard using Wish...) and I don't think it has an effect on the ethics of killing things.

I'd have no qualm in killling Giaks, not because they are vat-born but because, as you pointed out, they lack free-will. They are rabid dogs, possessed by an outside force making them incompatible with civilized life. I think killing them should be treated like killing said dogs, acceptable by many -- even if they had baby giaks since they would be basically be like baby xenomorph, irrespective of their mode of conception.

Interesting. Xenomorphs I would treat as unaligned. They're not evil but their existence is incompatible with most other life forms.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I have no issue with evil monsters, but many people conflate intelligence with complete freedom of will. It's a game.

But that gets threads shut down. I say do whatever makes sense for you and your group and don't worry about what other people say.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I have no issue with evil monsters, but many people conflate intelligence with complete freedom of will. It's a game.

But that gets threads shut down. I say do whatever makes sense for you and your group and don't worry about what other people say.

I'm throwing around ideas with group on the next game.

Drawing in ideas of Fallout 4 so yeah being eaten is a thing.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I have no issue with evil monsters, but many people conflate intelligence with complete freedom of will. It's a game.

But that gets threads shut down. I say do whatever makes sense for you and your group and don't worry about what other people say.
It's a philosophical question.

Can a computer, which is only allowed a binary choice and cannot make a choice outside of those two options, be considered "Intelligent"?

I'm not talking a vast and wildly varied AI with "Invisible Action" that shapes it's output. I'm talking about a simple binary "Yes/No" function.

If that computer isn't intelligent neither is a creature that -cannot- make moral choices. That cannot choose to do things outside of it's programming... Which, in turn, is the big problem people have with Determinism. If the universe is set on rails (Whether by physics or a deity) and we cannot make choices is intelligence even a "Thing" or are all of our actions and apparent reactions no more meaningful than a computer running a series of programs with any apparent intelligence coming not from choices on our part but only through mechanical functions of reality independent of any input from a thinking being.

For a creature to have Intelligence it must have Free Will. Otherwise it is no more sapient than the computer answering a question Yes and No, but never Maybe.

And that's not even getting into the Ham sandwich of applying a moral judgement or position to an entire group of people, and then declaring it is reinforced by magic/god/laws of reality/phrenology/whatever as a Social Issue.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Oh forgot.

 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Here's another very relevant question:

Do they have a Soul?

In a setting where gods and planes and an afterlife all exist, particularly one where morality determines the fate of your immortal soul, being an always evil creature means you -will- go to Hell and there's no middle ground. You are created, from birth, to go directly to Hell to be tormented forever.

Based on your setting's particular hell-interpretation, at least.

Whole other form of Existential Horror on top of everything else -and- the Ham Sandwich social issue.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Here's another very relevant question:

Do they have a Soul?

In a setting where gods and planes and an afterlife all exist, particularly one where morality determines the fate of your immortal soul, being an always evil creature means you -will- go to Hell and there's no middle ground. You are created, from birth, to go directly to Hell to be tormented forever.

Based on your setting's particular hell-interpretation, at least.

Whole other form of Existential Horror on top of everything else -and- the Ham Sandwich social issue.

From memory they didn't have a soul.

I think the protagonist or Vonotar looked deep into the darklords or Giaks and they don't have souls just the essence of the god of darkness.

They're essentially meat puppets that while somewhat intelligent don't really have free will.

Some of the other servants it's a lot less clear.

Their world is the last one left in the cosmic balance between good and evil.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If a setting has intelligent creatures that are effectively always evil (i.e. demons), then it's just fluff that differentiates them.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
From memory they didn't have a soul.

I think the protagonist or Vonotar looked deep into the darklords or Giaks and they don't have souls just the essence of the god of darkness.

They're essentially meat puppets that while somewhat intelligent don't really have free will.

Some of the other servants it's a lot less clear.

Their world is the last one left in the cosmic balance between good and evil.
Way easier to deal with, then, for Ethics and Morality!

Philosophical Zombie.

Let's assume there's a way to identify humans that do not possess Consciousness or Souls in the way other humans do. These humans still live and act like regular humans, they scream in pain when hurt (even though they don't -really- feel it), they seem to fall in love and care about people (but don't, actually, since they're incapable of true emotion), and they actively seek out food and water like other humans do. If you cut them, they bleed, if you ask them questions they answer. But they don't actually have awareness, consciousness, or souls.

Is it okay to kill one of these "Not really a person" people to use their organs to help someone who -is- a person with a soul and a consciousness and internal experiences rather than just the illusion of having those things? Is there anything morally or ethically wrong about killing a "Person" who basically doesn't actually exist? Is it okay to enslave them, or imprison them, or intentionally kill them for your own personal amusement?

After all. They're not "Real".

Which, of course, has a lot of carryover into the Ham thing, slavery, dehumanization in general...

The answer to all of this is: It's incredibly unethical. Because as far as everything that matters can be calculated they are people. And thus it is only morally justified to kill them when you would be morally justified to kill anyone else.

That they "Are always evil" doesn't mean diddly squat. If there was a type of Spider that was "Always Evil" and spun it's little webs maliciously in the hopes of murdering flies for sustenance, rather than doing so out of a desire for simple survival, like -really- enjoyed the little fly screams... killing that spider would be a waste of your time if it were in it's nest doing nothing really and truly harmful, or if it were incapable of -actually- doing any harm to you or other humans.

You'd just be killing it for killing it's sake.
 

aco175

Legend
I would guess that in a post-apocalyptic setting the PCs are fighting for limited resources and need to act more survival-like. Kind of like in war or that show Alone, where you need to survive for 100 days by yourself. A lot of things need to become more grey than the black and white issue that we have in a modern way we discuss here. I would not worry too much about the PCs and the way the game is played.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Way easier to deal with, then, for Ethics and Morality!

Philosophical Zombie.

Let's assume there's a way to identify humans that do not possess Consciousness or Souls in the way other humans do. These humans still live and act like regular humans, they scream in pain when hurt (even though they don't -really- feel it), they seem to fall in love and care about people (but don't, actually, since they're incapable of true emotion), and they actively seek out food and water like other humans do. If you cut them, they bleed, if you ask them questions they answer. But they don't actually have awareness, consciousness, or souls.

Is it okay to kill one of these "Not really a person" people to use their organs to help someone who -is- a person with a soul and a consciousness and internal experiences rather than just the illusion of having those things? Is there anything morally or ethically wrong about killing a "Person" who basically doesn't actually exist? Is it okay to enslave them, or imprison them, or intentionally kill them for your own personal amusement?

After all. They're not "Real".

Which, of course, has a lot of carryover into the Ham thing, slavery, dehumanization in general...

The answer to all of this is: It's incredibly unethical. Because as far as everything that matters can be calculated they are people. And thus it is only morally justified to kill them when you would be morally justified to kill anyone else.

That they "Are always evil" doesn't mean diddly squat. If there was a type of Spider that was "Always Evil" and spun it's little webs maliciously in the hopes of murdering flies for sustenance, rather than doing so out of a desire for simple survival, like -really- enjoyed the little fly screams... killing that spider would be a waste of your time if it were in it's nest doing nothing really and truly harmful, or if it were incapable of -actually- doing any harm to you or other humans.

You'd just be killing it for killing it's sake.

In this scenario they're outvtobkill you and possibly eat you.

Even if truly sentient they are still dangerous to you.

There was another group of them named Szalls who are natural and "cowardly" Giaks.

The "mountain" Giaks are vat born bio engineering with dark magic.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I would guess that in a post-apocalyptic setting the PCs are fighting for limited resources and need to act more survival-like. Kind of like in war or that show Alone, where you need to survive for 100 days by yourself. A lot of things need to become more grey than the black and white issue that we have in a modern way we discuss here. I would not worry too much about the PCs and the way the game is played.

Yeah it might be Darksun or a world based off Fallout 4.

If it's fallout 4 it's going to be a poisonous type world gods are dead with mutants and spawn wanting to eat you. It's pretty much them and us.

Probably use the lone wolf cosmology in terms of the planes of existence and Darksun influence with the remaining city states ruled by Dragon Kings/Queens.

The spawning vats would be left over from pre collapse.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Way easier to deal with, then, for Ethics and Morality!

Philosophical Zombie.

Let's assume there's a way to identify humans that do not possess Consciousness or Souls in the way other humans do. These humans still live and act like regular humans, they scream in pain when hurt (even though they don't -really- feel it), they seem to fall in love and care about people (but don't, actually, since they're incapable of true emotion), and they actively seek out food and water like other humans do. If you cut them, they bleed, if you ask them questions they answer. But they don't actually have awareness, consciousness, or souls.

Is it okay to kill one of these "Not really a person" people to use their organs to help someone who -is- a person with a soul and a consciousness and internal experiences rather than just the illusion of having those things? Is there anything morally or ethically wrong about killing a "Person" who basically doesn't actually exist? Is it okay to enslave them, or imprison them, or intentionally kill them for your own personal amusement?

After all. They're not "Real".

I am not sure your analogy is correct with regard to the lack of free will and Giaks. You're basically describing a creature having free will and being labelled as different despite no other difference in behaviour from a real person. Let's say your zombie is like a human in everyway but, being possessed by the will of the Evil God of Youth, enters a frenzy and MUST kill anyone above 60 years old he sees. There is no way to prevent him entering that state, and he'll explain, outside of these rages, that it is perfectly normal to kill people elderlies because they are abominations. At this point, he has already dismembered three people in the street, but he's otherwise a very fine fellow when conversing with up-to-59 years old. What would you do with that zombie, knowing that there is no way to rehabilitate him ever to be able for him to live within a human town? Outside of making him in charge of balancing the funding of the pension system, of course.

[Example from Magnamund "always evil" denizens of Helgedad: if you unsheathe the Sommerswerd within the confine of the city, all its inhabitants -- otherwise sentient -- will converge toward you lemming-like to kill you even if it means dying en masse. Your quest, and your life, ends here.]

Though there is a case to be made following your line of thought, I've also find that it's not really conclusive to a hobby where most of the time, killing people is the general (even memetic) behaviour of adventurers, since it would result in even, say, killing devils and demons not being justified.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The question for me is not of the circumstances of a creature’s birth or its creation, but of its agency. If a living being has agency, I would consider it immoral to end its life. If it’s an empty vessel that acts only according to an external will or some sort of programming, it’s probably acceptable to destroy (I’m not sure such an entity could properly be considered “alive” in order to be killed).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The question for me is not of the circumstances of a creature’s birth or its creation, but of its agency. If a living being has agency, I would consider it immoral to end its life. If it’s an empty vessel that acts only according to an external will or some sort of programming, it’s probably acceptable to destroy (I’m not sure such an entity could properly be considered “alive” in order to be killed).

What if it's a wartime or survival situation?

Shooting conscripted soldiers come to mind.

Vat spawned denziens of Helgedad are not free willed as such at least how we identify free willed.

It's a lot less clear with things like Drakkarim and Gourgaz which theoretically have free will. In terms of serving the god of darkness. There's only 3 deities plus the equivalent of archfiend's and maybe demigods.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
What if it's a wartime or survival situation?

Shooting conscripted soldiers come to mind.
There are contexts in which killing a being with agency can be morally acceptable, including survival and self-defense situations and some wartime situations. But I was under the impression that you were asking about if people felt vat-born creatures would be acceptable to kill in any context.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
There are contexts in which killing a being with agency can be morally acceptable, including survival and self-defense situations and some wartime situations. But I was under the impression that you were asking about if people felt vat-born creatures would be acceptable to kill in any context.

The context is yes. You can't really redeem them without the use of powerful magic. There was only one redeemed giak in universe which required the use of wish in D&D terms.

One of the most powerful Sorcerer's on the planet essentially reprogrammed a Giak.

If you infiltrated the spawning vats and stole a spawn it would still likely turn out as any other member of it's kind.

As far as I can tell you need powerful magic to essentially break the link with the god of darkness and create a soul for said spawn.

The Darklords themselves (essentially archfiend's on the prime) don't realize that they themselves are essentially meat puppets as well and they're the leaders of the "culture".
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
There are contexts in which killing a being with agency can be morally acceptable, including survival and self-defense situations and some wartime situations. But I was under the impression that you were asking about if people felt vat-born creatures would be acceptable to kill in any context.

Interestingly, we usually allow more leeway on killing in self-defence because it's difficult to measure the appropriate amount of force to remove the threat without being lethal (if someone is hitting you and you stab him, you could claim to be acting in self-defence, but not if he was 100m away and you shot him before he could move toward you...). This isn't the case in the D&D world, where you can't kill people by RAW without wanting it. Any damage from a melee attack can be declared as "non lethal", so one really bears the responsability for the kill.
 

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