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Is killing a Goblin who begs for mercy evil?

ComradeGnull

First Post
Faiths of Purity has some good sample codes for paladins of different faiths. The codes for Sarenrae, Torag, and Iomedae specifically deal with handling evil enemies- trying to redeem them, giving the option (but not requirement) of accepting their surrender, etc. The code for Torag specifically says 'no mercy for the enemies of my people'.

I think this makes the most sense to me- that what is both lawful and good for a follower of a particular deity is determined by the values of that deity. What is the right response to the follower of a god whose portfolio is mercy and healing would be different than for a god of protection and crusading warfare. A Dwarven god might specifically deny any quarter to orcs, goblins, and duerger, for instance. A god of justice and laws might say that an escaped criminal is to be killed rather than captured.

Also worth noting that good characters 'respecting all life' does not require them to be naive. Allowing an evil humanoid to beg for mercy and go free could well place other innocents in danger. While it isn't the only interpretation possible, it is certainly potentially consistent with LG alignment to value the potential harm to innocents higher than the value of offering mercy to someone who has committed evil acts.
 

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Starman

First Post
This sort of thing is why I don't play Paladins any more. Unless the DM and I agree before the game begins on what constitutes an "evil" act, this just cause problems. Alternately, the DM could never have this situation arise, but then the Paladin is overpowered--as his weakness/drawback will never come into play.

Of course, when I'm DM'ing, this is the sort of thing I love to throw at the Paladins. In my opinion, if you are playing a Paladin you are somewhat asking for these sorts of dilemmas to be included in the game.

I think the most important lesson from these sorts of threads is that DMs and players need to discuss this sort of thing ahead of time so both are pretty much on the same page when it comes to alignment, a Paladin's codes, and so on.
 

Crunchy_Bill

First Post
Here's another twist:
How about carving a few goblin steaks from an already-dead goblin to use to try to tame/win over some wolves that the now-deceased goblins had imprisoned and, according to information obtained via "Talk with Animals", were starving. I figured that since the goblin was already dead, and my lawful neutral (NOT lawful good) Paladin is part of a nature religion ("nature, red in tooth and claw"), it was fair for him to conclude that, well, dead is dead, meat is meat, no sense letting it go to waste when there are four or five very hungry wolves to placate.

My GM and several fellow players feel otherwise and exhibited reactions ranging from apparent horror to conspiratorial chuckles. The word "repercussions" has been muttered . . .

I'm newly-returned to D&D, but enjoyed many surprisingly serious debates about ethics and morality back when I used to game a lot. Nice to know some things haven't changed!

P.S. Of additional potential relevance - my Paladin is half orc and was raised as a member of an orc tribe. I really don't think that from his perspective, in the context of his religion and the ethics of the quasi-Medieval time in which D&D occurs, carving up an already-dead Goblin is not even close to being an evil act. I killed him fair and square in battle, and tried (without success) to prevent another player from slaying his fellows after they surrendered. (I'm strong but kinda slow, and the rogue in the group took out the kneeling goblins before I could stop him.)
 



Depends on if your DM believes non-humans have free will.
Can't assume fantasy races are like real world people. That they all have free will and the ability to choose between good and evil.

If goblins, orcs or gnolls were solely created by some evil god then they may not have free will. They might not be able to choose between good and evil and always be evil. In that case, killing one begging for mercy isn't evil. It's good as the goblin WILL go off and do more evil later. It's their nature.
If goblins and the like were created in part with a good god, an evil god that believed in free will or were granted free will then it's uncertain. It depends on the goblin. A selfish and wicked goblin will go off and do more evil and killing them might be like offing the Joker. Saves lives in the long run. Or the goblin might choose to turn its life around. Because it CAN choose to.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I take my cue from Detect Evil so that only aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, or undead can actually be called Evil.

Sentient mortal races in the world can ‘Do evil’ but they are not always evil and thus a Paladin cant know if any given goblin is evil or not unless they are actively Doing evil things

ergo a surrendering goblin is not evil, whereas a goblin who is torturing babies is
 
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Jaeger

That someone better.
My friend says that if he were playing a Paladin, and he were to attack a Goblin village (race with evil alignment) he would probably spare those who surrendered, or those who were weak or children etc. He would feel that if he were to kill those Goblins who begged for mercy that would be an evil act, disastrous for the Paladin (also he doesn't want to do any evil).

I would say (I'm the DM), that based on the rules, I cannot see that killing an evil Goblin would be an evil act under most circumstances. (BTW these are not my personal feelings on the matter, just my interpretation of the rules...let's just leave RL morality discussion out of it). If he were to torture a Goblin, or something, that would be Evil, as it is obviously a sentient being. However, I see nothing in the rules that would make killing a begging-for-mercy Goblin an evil act, as the Goblin is an evil creature, and in the very objective morality system presented in the D&D/Pathfinder world, destroying evil is not evil.

Nothing wrong with having objectively Evil races to fight in an escapist RPG.

If Goblins are Evil; Then the killing of Goblins = Smiting Evil.

The Paladin is literally destroying an agent of evil that would do someone else future harm if allowed to live.

He is a Hero.



The first time we encountered this situation, the goblin ran away and gathered allies and set up an ambush.

Now this is Goblins done right!

#Goblinsareforkilling
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Depends on if your DM believes non-humans have free will.
Can't assume fantasy races are like real world people. That they all have free will and the ability to choose between good and evil.

If goblins, orcs or gnolls were solely created by some evil god then they may not have free will. They might not be able to choose between good and evil and always be evil. In that case, killing one begging for mercy isn't evil. It's good as the goblin WILL go off and do more evil later. It's their nature.
If goblins and the like were created in part with a good god, an evil god that believed in free will or were granted free will then it's uncertain. It depends on the goblin. A selfish and wicked goblin will go off and do more evil and killing them might be like offing the Joker. Saves lives in the long run. Or the goblin might choose to turn its life around. Because it CAN choose to.
No, the mere fact the goblin isn't bound to the evil alignment by the gods does NOT mean the act of killing it becomes evil.

Heroes kill monsters all the time. Trying to distinguish between "righteous" and "wrongful" kills, and trying to shame some adventurers but not others, is the only crime as far as I can tell.

Either you accept that murder is murder (and presumably go play something else), or you accept that at its basic fundamental level, D&D is a murder simulator, realize no actual goblins were harmed during the production of this scenario, lighten up, and gleefully return to the exciting adventure! :)
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
For me it depends. If the PCs are attacking the village because those goblins have been raiding the city then have at it. If you’re attacking the village because you don’t like goblins and want their stuff then I’d probably say that’s pretty evil... as evil as the goblins are at least... or maybe moreso as they aren’t doing the raiding.
 

AnotherGuy

Explorer
How about carving a few goblin steaks from an already-dead goblin to use to try to tame/win over some wolves that (snip) were starving. I figured (snip) dead is dead, meat is meat, no sense letting it go to waste when there are four or five very hungry wolves to placate.

Depends on the amount of seasoning.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Nothing wrong with having objectively Evil races to fight in an escapist RPG.

If Goblins are Evil; Then the killing of Goblins = Smiting Evil.
"In the end, the only good goblins are those who never show their faces to the light of day."

So sayeth a known expert on all things goblin:

goblin-slayer-goblins-crown-1172676-1280x0.jpg
 



No, the mere fact the goblin isn't bound to the evil alignment by the gods does NOT mean the act of killing it becomes evil.

Heroes kill monsters all the time. Trying to distinguish between "righteous" and "wrongful" kills, and trying to shame some adventurers but not others, is the only crime as far as I can tell.

Either you accept that murder is murder (and presumably go play something else), or you accept that at its basic fundamental level, D&D is a murder simulator, realize no actual goblins were harmed during the production of this scenario, lighten up, and gleefully return to the exciting adventure! :)
If you put down a rapid dog it doesn't matter if it's charging at you or hiding in the corner whimpering, it's still a rabid dog.
 

Filthy Lucre

Explorer
My friend and I are wondering about alignment for our upcoming Pathfinder game. We want to use the alignment system correctly but we differ a bit on the interpretation of the rules. We would like some input from more seasoned players.

My friend says that if he were playing a Paladin, and he were to attack a Goblin village (race with evil alignment) he would probably spare those who surrendered, or those who were weak or children etc. He would feel that if he were to kill those Goblins who begged for mercy that would be an evil act, disastrous for the Paladin (also he doesn't want to do any evil).

I would say (I'm the DM), that based on the rules, I cannot see that killing an evil Goblin would be an evil act under most circumstances. (BTW these are not my personal feelings on the matter, just my interpretation of the rules...let's just leave RL morality discussion out of it). If he were to torture a Goblin, or something, that would be Evil, as it is obviously a sentient being. However, I see nothing in the rules that would make killing a begging-for-mercy Goblin an evil act, as the Goblin is an evil creature, and in the very objective morality system presented in the D&D/Pathfinder world, destroying evil is not evil.

My friend then came up with another example, Paladin detects evil on a shopkeeper, who to his knowledge has not harmed anyone (perhaps he's really selfish and dreams of killing others but is too cowardly to do it). Could he slay the man there and then, without committing and Evil act? There I was not sure.

I sort of see the fact that Goblins are, as a race, Evil, as meaning that they are like intelligent wolves, or like Nazis who were evil from birth. They are Evil, just like a Devil or Demon, or a Necromancer. And that destroying evil is inherently good (again, based on the objective morality in the 3.5/Pathfinder Rules, NOT based on my own RL morality), as Evil creatures have an evil nature, and if you allow them to live, they will go on doing evil things, as they desire to hurt, opress and kill others.

So therefore it should be OK to kill them indiscriminately.

However my friend disagrees, and I would like very much to come to a conclusion. I know that we could just house-rule Alignment away if it is a problem, but we have nothing against it, we just want to run it the right way.

So, long-time players. What is your interpretation of this issue? Please try to limit yourselves to the RAW, and the correct interpretation of them. I'm not looking for your personal philosophies on morality and all that, that is besides the point. :)
Alignment doesn't refer to specific individuals but general trends as a group, therefor your premise that all goblins are evil is false, and from there the rest of your argument falls apart.

The very fact that Pathfinder 2e has a codified and explicit options for goblin player characters, and that it does not force them to be evil, is pretty final on this issue.

OP's entire argument is so fallacious that I can't believe this is even being seriously entertained. OP asked for RAW and by RAW not all goblins are evil - it's stated explicitly on page 47 of the CRB and page 180 of the bestiary.


Jesus christ I didn't realize this was started by some schmuck 10 years ago who doesn't even participate in the forum.
 
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Filthy Lucre

Explorer
Well, I would certainly agree with you if the Goblins were just normal people. But according to RAW, those with an Evil alignment seek to actively hurt, opress, and kill other sentients. So even if they aren't doing anything, they are probably cooking up an evil scheme, or preparing an assault or something. So wouldn't it be like attacking a band of wolves who hadn't done anything, just because you know that they pose a threat to you and would kill you at a moment's notice if given the chance?
According to the RAW, page 47 of the CRB and page 180 of the bestiary, not all goblins are evil. Period. Meaning not only might you encounter a goblin who is not evil to begin with but is nonetheless pressed into the service of evil leaders you might also find goblins who are evil but capable of redemption.

I don't see how your argument has any legs to stand on with one of your main premises being obviously false.


See the above comment.
 
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Jesus christ I didn't realize this was started by some schmuck 10 years ago who doesn't even participate in the forum.
Yet here we are, ten years later, with new editions of D&D and Pathfinder, both of which contain alignment rules.

PF2 (according to the SRD) at least went out of its way to say this:
The GM is the arbiter of questions about how specific actions might affect your character’s alignment.

So that settles that argument. Right?
 


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