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D&D General Some thoughts on Moral Philosophies in D&D

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I don't think that's accurate or fair. There are different working definitions of murderhobo, and they don't all necessarily include killing everything that breathes.

A (pragmatic) murderhobo doesn't kill the tavern keeper because there's no value in it. Pragmatic Murderhobos don't kill innocents (in part because of consequences, but also because there is no reward for it - it is thus inefficient). A temporary psychopath (perhaps a murdergodclown in training) might kill everyone they see, but that's different - they really do want to kill everybody.

But, okay, let's call what I'm talking about a MurderPragmatist.

A MurderPragmatist kills 'monsters' for profit, and for a MurderPragmatist the solution to most encounters with people and things that might loosely be called antagonists involves violence. Talk our way out? No, roll for initiative. Does the reason the group of elves is robbing caravans matter? No, not really, kill them and solve the problem. Talking might mean a long sidequest, and this is quicker.
And that's Role Morality, yup.

That's "I've been paid to solve this problem." with a healthy dose of "I'm not being paid enough to think".

I would heartily disagree with the idea that that's particularly Pragmatist, however. Being pragmatic means thinking the situation through in a sensible and reasonable way based on what you know, rather than a whole bunch of theory. But talking it out is just as pragmatic as killing the elves. So is negotiating. Or running away.

Honestly, any of those would be MORE pragmatic since it doesn't involve you immediately risking your life except -maybe- running away if the elves move faster and/or are great archers.

Opening up with violence isn't sensible unless you've got a strong reason to believe that violence is the -only- way the situation can be resolved. Because then you're just cutting to the chase and not wasting time asking a bunch of useless questions and negotiating with someone who doesn't intend to actually avoid violence.

So, again, I would say your definition of a Murderhobo is just a person engaging in role morality. Where any moral compunctions they might have in relation to violence are set aside in favor of following orders. Though that -can- break down if the Elves start talking about their reasons during the fighting or before engaging the party. It's just unlikely to.
 

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Sithlord

Adventurer
I don’t really think the Homeric hero was loyal to the state (could be wrong). I think it was more personal glory. And it better benefit the hero and at most his family. Loyalty to the state never really happened (I think) until the platonic period. Achilles behavior really was pretty selfish yet he was was a hero.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I don’t really think the Homeric hero was loyal to the state (could be wrong). I think it was more personal glory. And it better benefit the hero and at most his family. Loyalty to the state never really happened (I think) until the platonic period. Achilles behavior really was pretty selfish yet he was was a hero.
That was really more of a Cardassian aspect of the statement, I apologize!

By "The State" I meant "Society and their place in it". I used the word State specifically so I could make the reference to "The Never Ending Sacrifice" from the Episode the Wire. In that episode, Julian Bashir tries to read his way through a ponderous tome that is the "Pinnacle" of Cardassian literature in which multiple generations of a family live selfless lives of service to the state, die, and pass their responsibilities to their children.

My apologies for the confusion.

Homeric Heroes are all about the status quo. About maintaining the way things "Should Be" in their lives and the lives of others. Those who strive for better wind up falling. Because overreaching your station and losing it all has been a common storytelling function since we started telling stories.

By being placed in the role of Monarch it's Arthur's duty to restore the status quo. Similarly, it's to his knights to act on his orders. Each takes up their place in society and holds it. Except Lancelot, who transgresses. After that moment, he spends most of his time killing in trial by combat, poisoning a dude, winds up killing Gawains brothers, and then when his betrayal is revealed by Morgan slaughters a crowd of Arthur's family trying to burn Guinevere including innocent and unarmed people who were explicitly dragged along to witness the event.

He kills Gawain (Granted he meant to spare him, but he messed -that- up) and is ultimately part of how Mordred's uprising is able to fight against his father and his knights, culminating in Arthur's eventual death.

It may not have the succinctness of Icarus flying too high, but damn does it tell the same moral: Stay in your place, damn it!
 
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ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Being pragmatic means thinking the situation through in a sensible and reasonable way based on what you know,
In this case you have a pretty certain solution in your hand, and picking it over a branching tree of talk options will seem like the more efficient path lots of times.

This is partly the system at work, as violence is much safer in the game world than it would be in a real world.

And I don't think Role Morality applies because it doesn't even rise to that level - there's no morality to turn off. They aren't thinking "I am currently an adventurer, and thus I shall adventure his head from his neck, but normally, we'd sit down and have a long talk". They are replete with murder instruments and techniques (as are most player characters), and as a villain, there will be few repercussions from applying murder as a solution. So, it becomes the clear shortest path.

Particularly post 2e/AD&D, I don't think violence is the difficult or even risky path in most encounters with antagonists (and it often wasn't too dangerous in 2e, either). Frankly, if that is the intended structure of the narrative arc, D&D systems are poor mechanical choices for those games.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
In this case you have a pretty certain solution in your hand, and picking it over a branching tree of talk options will seem like the more efficient path lots of times.

This is partly the system at work, as violence is much safer in the game world than it would be in a real world.

And I don't think Role Morality applies because it doesn't even rise to that level - there's no morality to turn off. They aren't thinking "I am currently an adventurer, and thus I shall adventure his head from his neck, but normally, we'd sit down and have a long talk". They are replete with murder instruments and techniques (as are most player characters), and as a villain, there will be few repercussions from applying murder as a solution. So, it becomes the clear shortest path.

Particularly post 2e/AD&D, I don't think violence is the difficult or even risky path in most encounters with antagonists (and it often wasn't too dangerous in 2e, either). Frankly, if that is the intended structure of the narrative arc, D&D systems are poor mechanical choices for those games.
You're suggesting a situation where morality just isn't involved whatsoever.

A game where the characters in the game aren't -characters- with moral identities or any form of actual narrative, but purely bundles of attributes walking around swinging their numbers at other numbers and looking to make the other numbers reach 0 first.

Which goes beyond the scope of any moral discussion.

And no. Pragmatism isn't a moral philosophy. Moral philosophies try to express what is or isn't good or bad and why. Pragmatism doesn't concern itself with morality. It's just about getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Moral philosophies try to express what is or isn't good or bad and why.
I think "inefficiency is bad because it wastes resources" is a moral valuation that meets those terms.

And moreover one that fits what characters are actually doing much of the time.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I think "inefficiency is bad because it wastes resources" is a moral valuation that meets those terms.

And moreover one that fits what characters are actually doing much of the time.
... No. It does not.

At least not by any reasonable definition of morality, which refers to a system of values. Not a single valuation.

Pragmatism is a method of logical consideration in the same vein as epistemology or philosophies of language.

It's certainly a way to -formulate- a moral philosophy (Pragmatism would likely often lead to Utilitarianism, just as a thought)... but it is not, itself, a moral system.
 

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