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General The child stealing food to survive scenario, for alignment

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
I brought this up in the other thread because I feel it a better thing to debate about alignment, especially the LG alignment than Orc babies.

What would a character do if they caught a poor street kid stealing food from a merchant in the city? The child is obviously quite poor impoverished and in poor health, so they are likely stealing to survive or to feed their family. The city most certainly has laws that could be harsh for the child now that they are caught, in that it could either be imprisonment or the child loses a hand. What would your character do in this situation now that they caught this little thief?

I think the answer is very obvious for what a NG or CG character would do, in that they'd at least let the child go. But for LG characters this might be more of an internal conflict to them.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I think the answer is very obvious for what a NG or CG character would do, in that they'd at least let the child go. But for LG characters this might be more of an internal conflict to them.
Not really. I mean, it isn't like LG is this intense struggle for every single action. Sometimes, there's solutions that are strongly both, but when there isn't, sometimes you lean a little more to Law, sometimes a little more to Good, and it all comes out in the wash.

But if you want to be both, the answer is simple - the child is under the age of majority? They are not fully responsible for legal behavior. Done. Not really hard.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Funny thing is, this came up in a game once. My LG PC (leaning LN) saw a kid stealing something so he stopped him using a non-lethal force by knocking him down.

Everybody at the table was aghast. The baker was out that loaf of bread and would suffer because of the loss. Maybe it wouldn't bankrupt the baker, but the baker worked hard to earn money for his family, the kid didn't.

I explained that if the kid was hungry I'd throw in a few gold for an apprenticeship so he could earn his keep, but theft is wrong. If the kid got away with stealing a loaf of bread now, the lesson he learns is that he can get away with theft. In a couple of years it wouldn't be the loaf of bread, it would be the baker's earnings for the week.

The way I viewed it my PC saw a crime and stopped it using appropriate, non-lethal, means. People work hard for a living and taking something you didn't earn was wrong.
 

jgsugden

Legend
A character of any alignment could respond in any way. Alignment is a tendency, not a restriction.

Cruddles, my CG Deep Gnome wizard, would likely help the kid escape and leave a few coins.

Lex, my CG human monk (who is a tad crazy), would capture the kid, force him to be honest, and then buy the bread for the kid as a reward for being honest. He'd also protect the kid if the punishment would be too steep from the constables.

Myztek Dryken Delerosh, a LG fighter/wizard, a former CE Thayvian under a helm of opposite alignment, would capture the kid, hand him over to the constables and say the law is the law.

Tyrstern Fossilrock, Mountain Dwarf NG barbarian, would place a bet on whether the kid was caught and would otherwise stay out of it.

Kyrus, the Jack of all Trades Elf, NE, would either ignore it, or use the situation to force the kid to work for him.

Crynare, my CN mage/thief, would steal the bread because it clearly meant a lot to the kid. He stole what people valued most.

Myska Urge, CG tiefling ranger/fighter/rogue/sorcerer, would capture the kid and teach him the importance of redemption, compelling him to do a greater service for the world than the harm he had just done.

While some of those might fit into your definition of their alignments, some of it won't - and that is ok. They're all being played as individuals with personalities. The alignment assigned to them is just the best fit, not necessarily a good fit.
 

Cadence

Adventurer
Supporter
Doesn't 1e read like the LG character should do whatever the law requires. And then work within the system to change the law if they think it was ungood.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Theft isn't good or evil it's more law/chaos.

LE. Kids gonna get treated harshly if caught.

LN. Will probably do whatever the law says. Might be lenient might be harsh.

LG. Will probably do what the law says but tempered by mercy and the law isn't likely very harsh.

What happens would depend on the level of social support in that society. Best case scenario charity helps the family out or adopts kid. Worst case kid is treated as an adult and loses a limb (very rarely death).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Not really. I mean, it isn't like LG is this intense struggle for every single action. Sometimes, there's solutions that are strongly both, but when there isn't, sometimes you lean a little more to Law, sometimes a little more to Good, and it all comes out in the wash.

But if you want to be both, the answer is simple - the child is under the age of majority? They are not fully responsible for legal behavior. Done. Not really hard.
That's a modern concept.

Kids in UK could get deported to the colonies, sent to a workhouse etc.

Death and/or mutilation in some cultures.
 

pming

Adventurer
Hiya!

I brought this up in the other thread because I feel it a better thing to debate about alignment, especially the LG alignment than Orc babies.

What would a character do if they caught a poor street kid stealing food from a merchant in the city? The child is obviously quite poor impoverished and in poor health, so they are likely stealing to survive or to feed their family. The city most certainly has laws that could be harsh for the child now that they are caught, in that it could either be imprisonment or the child loses a hand. What would your character do in this situation now that they caught this little thief?

I think the answer is very obvious for what a NG or CG character would do, in that they'd at least let the child go. But for LG characters this might be more of an internal conflict to them.
CE - Threaten the kid and abduct them, turning them into an unwilling slave, using every opportunity to humiliate, hurt and degrade said child.
CN - Who knows? Maybe congratulate the kid on successfully stealing it...then taking the food for themselves. Fair is fair, right?
CG - Give advice on who and how to do it...so they can more easily fend for themselves, and 'stick it to the man' (re: rich folks).

NE - Kill the kid and take his stuff.
TN - Shrug, and continue on his way. It wasn't MY food...or food from my family...so...survival of the fittest I guess.
NG - Tell kid they understand, be honest and kind. Tell kid not to do it again, then take the kid to an acceptable church, orphanage or NPC that can help the kid out.

LE - Arrest the kid. Keep the spoils for themselves and accuse the kid of lying when the kid speaks up about it, then using that as a means to get power/control over the kid's life in some way.
LN - Arrest kid. Return goods. Take kid to authorities and let the system deal with him.
LG - Arrest kid. Make kid return goods and apologize. Take kid to authorities and offer to take the kid under their wing to reform them into a better person and member of society.

Those were off the top of my head. Variations would be vast, as every person is different, but those are base line generic reactions I'd have in my campaign.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Whatever the answer: there has to be a Lawful Stupid Paladin involved. That way, you have the scenario that sets up said Paladin as a reoccurring Rival to the Party who shows up at the worst possible times to make situations more interesting.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I would suggest the following for Law oriented characters.

LG: Utilizes systems/law to perpetuate good, with goodness trumping law if necessary.

LN: Utilizes systems/law to perpetuate itself - law trumps all. Order must be maintained.

LE: Utilizes (exploits) systems for personal gain, which trumps all.

So in the example you provided, a LG character would likely gently admonish the child and then actively try to help them, perhaps bringing them to a mission or his or her temple for care-taking, maybe giving them room and board in exchange for work.

A LN character would have the child arrested, because law and order are what is important.

A LE would find some way to exploit the situation - perhaps taking the money and turning the child in.
 

Ace

Explorer
Theft in D&D is not inherently evil unless it causes significant harm to someone in the process. Doing what you must do to survive is probably unaligned but baring that neutral.

As for LG guys, removing the hand of a child is inherently cruel and causes disproportionate harm and therefore not a good act.As such, ignoring the law would not cause much moral conflict.
 

What would a character do if they caught a poor street kid stealing food from a merchant in the city? The child is obviously quite poor impoverished and in poor health, so they are likely stealing to survive or to feed their family. The city most certainly has laws that could be harsh for the child now that they are caught, in that it could either be imprisonment or the child loses a hand.
Gonna answer solely based on alignment, which is simply a moral tendency.

  • LG - give the urchin a private reprimand (the law's too cruel), then pay for the food
  • NG - give the urchin a warning, then give them some money
  • CG - give the urchin some tips on how to not get caught in the first place, since theft is so dangerous, then give them some money
  • LN - turn the urchin over to the authorities, but make a case for the urchin; perhaps offering to pay the cost of the food and a small fine
  • N - pay no attention, as it's none of your business
  • CN - smile and point out to the merchant that he's been robbed... describing someone completely different than the urchin
  • LE - turn the urchin over to the authorities, or simply mete out the punishment yourself right there
  • NE - blackmail the urchin to give you half, plus more each week unless they want the authorities to find out
  • CE - kill the urchin and eat the stolen food; laugh mechanically

What would your character do in this situation now that they caught this little thief?
My current character is a LG far traveling gold dwarf from the Deephome. He has a great distaste for human society to begin with (playing Avernus, and spend every day in Baulder's Gate getting mugged), so he'd smile and walk away...
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Not really. I mean, it isn't like LG is this intense struggle for every single action. Sometimes, there's solutions that are strongly both, but when there isn't, sometimes you lean a little more to Law, sometimes a little more to Good, and it all comes out in the wash.

But if you want to be both, the answer is simple - the child is under the age of majority? They are not fully responsible for legal behavior. Done. Not really hard.
It's also a classic backstory for a paladin or cleric character!
 

Azzy

Newtype
I brought this up in the other thread because I feel it a better thing to debate about alignment, especially the LG alignment than Orc babies.

What would a character do if they caught a poor street kid stealing food from a merchant in the city? The child is obviously quite poor impoverished and in poor health, so they are likely stealing to survive or to feed their family. The city most certainly has laws that could be harsh for the child now that they are caught, in that it could either be imprisonment or the child loses a hand. What would your character do in this situation now that they caught this little thief?
Well, from the perspective of a LG character I played, first I would stop the child from stealing, give them a a morality less on stealing and accompany the child back to the vendor he stole from and have them apologize (while I'd pay the vendor for his goods). I's also buy some more food and help bring it to the child's family. After that I would find out if there is any church or institution that helps the poor and downtrodden, and let the family know about. I would hope that my actions would provide a good example for the child and hope that they wouldn't have to go to such lengths again. In the long term, I also work to change the city or nation so to end poverty and the threats that face the impoverished through influencing policy, swaying public opinion on the issue, and trying to convince the powers that be that rectifying the issue is a benefit to them, the city/nation, and citizenry at large.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
I would not even think about getting involved in such a petty matter. Those undead and demons are not going to slay themselves.
 

Sadras

Hero
Funny thing is, this came up in a game once. My LG PC (leaning LN) saw a kid stealing something so he stopped him using a non-lethal force by knocking him down.

Everybody at the table was aghast. The baker was out that loaf of bread and would suffer because of the loss. Maybe it wouldn't bankrupt the baker, but the baker worked hard to earn money for his family, the kid didn't.

I explained that if the kid was hungry I'd throw in a few gold for an apprenticeship so he could earn his keep, but theft is wrong. If the kid got away with stealing a loaf of bread now, the lesson he learns is that he can get away with theft. In a couple of years it wouldn't be the loaf of bread, it would be the baker's earnings for the week.

The way I viewed it my PC saw a crime and stopped it using appropriate, non-lethal, means. People work hard for a living and taking something you didn't earn was wrong.
Fantastic roleplaying moment!
 

FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
Kid's just trying to feed his family. What Good is the Law, when it demands that you starve?

On the other hand, the merchant's just trying to feed his family, too-- I can offer to pay for what the kid stole, this time, but how many times has the kid gotten away with it when I wasn't there to stop him? The merchant would be within his rights to refuse my generosity, in the hopes that harsh punishment will protect his livelihood.

I am deeply, deeply Chaotic; I don't give a damn what the law says about thieves and merchants trying to feed their families and protect their interests. I've got some Good tendencies... I'm going to make the merchant an honest offer for the thief's freedom and their upkeep. But I've got some Evil tendencies, too, and it's in the merchant's best interests to recognize that my offers are only going to keep getting better until they get a whole lot worse.

Chaos isn't about being immune to the consequences of one's choices-- you're thinking of Power, and if you think Chaotics are irresponsible, you need to pay more attention to the favor the Law shows the Powerful. Chaos is recognizing that Only You are responsible for the consequences of Your Choices, so you don't get to blame the Law for doing what you knew the Law was going to do when you made your choices.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
What alignment would the kid be? Any really. Even if you made it an older child, like a teen, who does know the difference (usually) between right and wrong. Take the most extreme case of LG:

Alignment is not absolute in that (most) creatures follow it to the letter all the time. We had a talk about this in our session yesterday when we encountered a NPC, were using Zone of Truth, and the topic was lying. Good people lie. Lawful people lie. They might feel there is need or reason, or they might be afraid of consequences, etc., and they might feel bad about doing it--but they do it.

In a similar fashion, such a hungry child/person might steal to survive. Maybe they are keeping tracking and when they are older will give some money to the people they stole from? Maybe the internal struggle will make them return the vendor and apologize for stealing, asking to work for free to repay the debt? Etc.

Now, if the child/teen/person feels no regret or anything negative about the theft, they are probably not good nor lawful.

That's my two cents anyway. Now I'll bow out of this one, too. ;)
 


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