D&D 5E What are your 5e houserules

Lyxen

Great Old One
killing Orcs is an evil act now?

See the other answers, it might depend a bit on the circumstances but killing foragers (assuming that they are only that, and not the brutal orc warriors who have just destroyed your home town two days ago after torturing and killing all your family and friends and who are now just foraging because they need it and have not other town to burn around the corner) in cold blood and torturing certainly is evil.

Id argue unprovoked mass murder of a bunch of people foraging in the woods, and brutal torture or a survivor, in order to locate the rest of those people, in order to engage in some light genocide, is a bit more than simply 'inconsistent with the CG alignment' but I otherwise agree with your post.

It depends on the circumstances. The guy might absolutely hate orcs for background or history reasons. These "foragers" might be doing just that now because they don't have a town to slaughter, pillage and burn. There might be too many to deal with otherwise due to the points above, etc.

Circumstances always matter a lot, and this is where most of the alignment discussions fail, not because of general principles, but just because the event and the circumstances are not described precisely enough, so people have different views of the even.

Personally, I'd let the player know then and there of this, the instant he told me he was going to massacre them, that's the fact what he's about to do is evil, that this fact is absolute and the view of the Gods, and to pull their head in because (as a non evil, heroic campaign) we're not doing that kind of stuff at this table.

Up to you, but see above about circumstances.

Do it, and your PC is obviously not Heroic, nor Good, and (according to the restrictions of the game) not a PC anymore.

And then again, it depends on the circumstances.
 

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killing Orcs is an evil act now?
It always has been, unless those Orcs pose you or your allies or innocents a direct threat, and there is no other means to reasonably stop them.

I know you prefer a game, where Orcs have an inherent moral outlook that they can never change, and thus it's somehow a LG act to engage in full blown genocide against them, toss their children on the pyres as they scream, enslave them as forced labor, crucify them, butcher any of them that surrender and so forth, but clearly that's not the assumption in DnD anymore, and it never has been.

To the extent that you would strip a LG Paladin of his powers, for refusing to engage in the above, and instead seeking a peaceful solution that doesn't involve genocide.

We've had this discussion before.

If you're curious, the Orcs in this scenario were NG and worshippers of Torm (their leader having been spared by a Paladin of Torm many years ago, and converting to the faith himself afterwards, before leading a small group of Orcs discontent with their original tribes worship of Dark Gods away from their original village, and setting up an outpost nearby).

Not that that the ethnicity, race, religion or morality of your victims ever justifies or is relevant to the ethics of you murdering them, committing genocide on them or torturing them in any event.

A point you and I disagree with.
 

It depends on the circumstances. The guy might absolutely hate orcs for background or history reasons.

No, that's utterly irrelevant.

Or are you saying it's only evil if I murder or torture someone I like (or am ambivalent towards), but it's not evil as long as they're people I hate?

If I hated a particular race, and I were then to slaughter members of that race based on that hatred, I'm clearly NOT a Good person.

Do we agree?

If you dont agree, find me a historical example of someone who slaughtered members of a race based on race hate, that you consider a Good person.

Good luck with that!
 


Horwath

Hero
It always has been, unless those Orcs pose you or your allies or innocents a direct threat, and there is no other means to reasonably stop them.

I know you prefer a game, where Orcs have an inherent moral outlook that they can never change, and thus it's somehow a LG act to engage in full blown genocide against them, toss their children on the pyres as they scream, enslave them as forced labor, crucify them, butcher any of them that surrender and so forth, but clearly that's not the assumption in DnD anymore, and it never has been.

To the extent that you would strip a LG Paladin of his powers, for refusing to engage in the above, and instead seeking a peaceful solution that doesn't involve genocide.

We've had this discussion before.

If you're curious, the Orcs in this scenario were NG and worshippers of Torm (their leader having been spared by a Paladin of Torm many years ago, and converting to the faith himself afterwards, before leading a small group of Orcs discontent with their original tribes worship of Dark Gods away from their original village, and setting up an outpost nearby).

Not that that the ethnicity, race, religion or morality of your victims ever justifies or is relevant to the ethics of you murdering them, committing genocide on them or torturing them in any event.

A point you and I disagree with.
damn,

sarcasm does not translate very well into written form :D
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
No, that's utterly irrelevant.

It is, unless you are one of these people who never understood that alignment is not, actually has never been monolithic. That not only each "box" covers a wide range of behaviours, but that even people with one "label" don't have to be consistent with it all the time.

Or are you saying it's only evil if I murder or torture someone I like (or am ambivalent towards), but it's not evil as long as they're people I hate?

I'm not saying anything of the kind, the act is evil, but there might be justification for it for any character. Again, characters don't have to be one-sided cardboard cut-outs.

If I hated a particular race, and I were then to slaughter members of that race based on that hatred, I'm clearly NOT a Good person.

It depends on circumstances and your definitions. WIth the little information that we have on the situation, I would not presume to say that the character in question is not CG, if orcs slaughtered all his family recently and he thought the orcs were part of that same band. We don't have enough information.

Do we agree?

No, we don't. Coming back to the subject of the thread, you obviously have a house rule that alignement has to be monolithic and another one that characters are simple cardboard cutouts.

If you dont agree, find me a historical example of someone who slaughtered members of a race based on race hate, that you consider a Good person.

Because, of course, D&D is about history. sigh But there are many examples in the fantasy genre, starting with Gimli or Legolas, and continuing with many characters from David Gemmel.

Good luck with that!

I will give you historical example as soon as you give proof to me that D&D is made to model real life and history. Good luck with that !
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Things were much simpler in the original game. You had Lawful and Chaotic, based on the works of Michael Moorcock. Good and evil were irrelevant, the forces of Chaos wanted to tear everything apart, and only the forces of Law stood against them. It was a war for the ultimate survival of reality. There was no question of if Orcs were good or evil- by definition, they were minions of Chaos. You killed them out of self-preservation.

The change to alignment in AD&D added a lot of nuance, but the game didn't support it well (if at all). You were still expected to go out and murder goblinoids and monsters by the truckload, but now moral questions about "aren't the goblins just trying to survive" and "is a baby drow evil?" come up to complicate the proceedings.

Do we give quarter? Do we let prisoners go? Should we donate some of our gold to that orphanage? This made the game better as a roleplaying experience (mostly- you still had sessions grind to a halt over moral debates that the Thief would solve by going back and murdering your prisoners when they could), but worse at dungeon crawling where you break into people's homes and private property routinely, murder them, and take their stuff, and get to be called "heroes".

And despite some half-hearted attempts, the game has never really reconciled this issue. Now we're told that no species is inherently evil, and so at any point, the DM can be like "actually, those hobgoblins are lawful good, you can't murder them, it's wrong".
 

It is, unless you are one of these people who never understood that alignment is not, actually has never been monolithic.
Huh?

No, I'm simply arguing (and it really shouldn't even be an argument, to anyone outside of Hitler) that:

''A person that engages in mass murder, torture and genocide of a people, based on hatred of the race of that people, is not - by any measure - a morally good person.''

I'm not here to debate the truth of that sentence, because there is no way you can convince me it's wrong, and this isnt the thread for it.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Things were much simpler in the original game. You had Lawful and Chaotic, based on the works of Michael Moorcock. Good and evil were irrelevant, the forces of Chaos wanted to tear everything apart, and only the forces of Law stood against them. It was a war for the ultimate survival of reality. There was no question of if Orcs were good or evil- by definition, they were minions of Chaos. You killed them out of self-preservation.

It might have been us in France taking things differently, but from the reading of the books without anyone to explain them to me, it was actually not that simple. Lawful did not necessarily mean good, but it often did, just as chaotic did not necessarily mean evil, but often did, so it was not that clear cut. And I don't remember anyone, ever, attacking someone because they were lawful and the other chaotic, it was certainly not said that way in the rules, or even implied.

The change to alignment in AD&D added a lot of nuance, but the game didn't support it well (if at all). You were still expected to go out and murder goblinoids and monsters by the truckload, but now moral questions about "aren't the goblins just trying to survive" and "is a baby drow evil?" come up to complicate the proceedings.

And again, I don't agree, many paragraphs both in the PH and the DMG are actually fairly detailed about NOT doing this. Yes, there was some (normal in my opinion) "moral pass" about allowing good characters to kill adversaries in self-defense, or preservation of their lands/culture etc. but it's not the same thing at all.

Do we give quarter? Do we let prisoners go? Should we donate some of our gold to that orphanage? This made the game better as a roleplaying experience (mostly- you still had sessions grind to a halt over moral debates that the Thief would solve by going back and murdering your prisoners when they could), but worse at dungeon crawling where you break into people's homes and private property routinely, murder them, and take their stuff, and get to be called "heroes".

And maybe lots of people never played "let's break into homes and murder people to rob them", and maybe dungeons were mostly filled with really evil creatures ? Yes, there are all these stories about murderhoboes, funny, never met one of them in 42+ years of D&D.

And despite some half-hearted attempts, the game has never really reconciled this issue. Now we're told that no species is inherently evil, and so at any point, the DM can be like "actually, those hobgoblins are lawful good, you can't murder them, it's wrong".

And then, there are people (like all the people I've ever played with, and that's a lot) who always played that way and never murdered entire populations because they were supposedly always evil ?
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It might have been us in France taking things differently, but from the reading of the books without anyone to explain them to me, it was actually not that simple. Lawful did not necessarily mean good, but it often did, just as chaotic did not necessarily mean evil, but often did, so it was not that clear cut. And I don't remember anyone, ever, attacking someone because they were lawful and the other chaotic, it was certainly not said that way in the rules, or even implied.



And again, I don't agree, many paragraphs both in the PH and the DMG are actually fairly detailed about NOT doing this. Yes, there was some (normal in my opinion) "moral pass" about allowing good characters to kill adversaries in self-defense, or preservation of their lands/culture etc. but it's not the same thing at all.



And maybe lots of people never played "let's break into homes and murder people to rob them", and maybe dungeons were mostly filled with really evil creatures ? Yes, there are all these stories about murderhoboes, funny, never met one of them in 42+ years of D&D.



And then, there are people (like all the people I've ever played with, and that's a lot) who always played that way and never murdered entire populations because they were supposedly always evil ?
I should point out that I don't have an adversarial position here- people are allowed to play the game in whatever way gives them the most enjoyment. But my introduction to the game and many early modules were, in fact, geared towards presenting you with ancient ruins filled mostly by very bad creatures, who were guarding quite a bit of loot.

Even once you got into AD&D, the general way the people I played with ran their games remained consistent.

The Temple of Elemental Evil, Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, The Sentinel and The Gauntlet, The Slavelords, Against the Giants, The Caves of Chaos...our heroes were sent on adventures to murder the forces of darkness and take their stuff.

It wasn't until the mid 90's that I started to consider the morality of my character's actions, but there was a lot of pushback from other people I met who played the game. They didn't want to be told they couldn't kill goblins- goblins are evil, and that was that.

It was about this time that I started to tire of AD&D and began to move onto other games like Werewolf and Vampire: The Masquerade. By the time I got back into D&D with 3e, other people who also considered the morality of their deeds were playing as well, and sometimes this turned into long debates between players.

But the game really hasn't adapted very well to this, was the point I was trying to make Any time WotC addresses alignment, they tend to say some bizarre things. I'm sure you've partaken in many alignment debates where people try to espouse their feelings about what Lawful or Evil or whatever alignment means, and have felt it doesn't line up with your own thoughts.

Alignment is meant to be a gauge of absolute forces that exist in the D&D multiverse on a grand scale, but in the trenches, as it were, a lot of of is subjective and murky. And to this day, adventures are still written about going into the dens of "bad monsters" to murder and loot them.

Which leads to some bizarre moments when players stop and go "wait. are we the bad guys?", and there's usually someone who says "oh God, it's just a game, let's just kill stuff and get xp!".
 

The Temple of Elemental Evil, Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, The Sentinel and The Gauntlet, The Slavelords, Against the Giants, The Caves of Chaos...our heroes were sent on adventures to murder the forces of darkness and take their stuff.

Weren't the bad guys, in every single one of those adventures, dudes that were threatening to destroy the world, enslave people (and slave owners), raiding the local area and killing people etc?

So the PCs were actually stopping bad guys, by acting in self defence (or the defence of others), in a reasonably proportionate manner, to the threat posed.

That's not murder (unless the PCs employed murder as a tactic). killing in self defence (or the defence of others) is actually a lawful defence to murder (meaning you did not in fact murder anyone).

If those slavers or cultists surrendered, ceased hostilities, and there was a non violent means reasonably available to the PCs to resolve the issue... and the PCs still slit their throats and took their stuff, we could talk.

Its not a case of 'Kill them because it says 'E' in the alignment section'. It's more a case of 'These dudes are threatening and killing and enslaving people in our village of Homlett, Keep on the Borderlands, town or whatever. We need to protect them.'
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Well in Temple of Elemental Evil, you were intended to try and play the factions off against each other, as opposed to try and murder them all- that would turn them all against you, the common threat. Which means that helping the bad guys, at least in the short run, might be necessary to complete the adventure.

And is raiding and banditry universally evil? A man has to eat, and if you can't farm or forage for enough food, survival by any means is, if not Good, at least understandable. But again, this leads into the subjectivity of alignment. Arguments can be made for and against the idea of stealing for food, and where the line is drawn.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I should point out that I don't have an adversarial position here- people are allowed to play the game in whatever way gives them the most enjoyment. But my introduction to the game and many early modules were, in fact, geared towards presenting you with ancient ruins filled mostly by very bad creatures, who were guarding quite a bit of loot.

And that's fine if that is what you played and enjoyed, but if the creatures were really bad, wasn't it OK to rid the world of them ? And loot was not really the point in most cases, mostly a side product.

The Temple of Elemental Evil, Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, The Sentinel and The Gauntlet, The Slavelords, Against the Giants, The Caves of Chaos...our heroes were sent on adventures to murder the forces of darkness and take their stuff.

Huh, no, they were on an adventure to save the world from all these horrid threats.

It wasn't until the mid 90's that I started to consider the morality of my character's actions, but there was a lot of pushback from other people I met who played the game. They didn't want to be told they couldn't kill goblins- goblins are evil, and that was that.

Never had hat.

It was about this time that I started to tire of AD&D and began to move onto other games like Werewolf and Vampire: The Masquerade. By the time I got back into D&D with 3e, other people who also considered the morality of their deeds were playing as well, and sometimes this turned into long debates between players.

We had debates almost from the start about that, between characters having different points of view.

But the game really hasn't adapted very well to this, was the point I was trying to make Any time WotC addresses alignment, they tend to say some bizarre things. I'm sure you've partaken in many alignment debates where people try to espouse their feelings about what Lawful or Evil or whatever alignment means, and have felt it doesn't line up with your own thoughts.

Of course it does not, firstly because there are lots of people who don't like the principle of alignment, and will try to paint it for what it's not. And that's on top of people not even understanding the concept. After that, as I've mentioned, the circumstances are really important and can make something seem completely different depending on your point of view.

Alignment is meant to be a gauge of absolute forces that exist in the D&D multiverse on a grand scale, but in the trenches, as it were, a lot of of is subjective and murky. And to this day, adventures are still written about going into the dens of "bad monsters" to murder and loot them.

Less and less, honestly.

Which leads to some bizarre moments when players stop and go "wait. are we the bad guys?", and there's usually someone who says "oh God, it's just a game, let's just kill stuff and get xp!".

Again, never happened to us.
 

And is raiding and banditry universally evil?

It doesnt matter if it is evil. That's my point. The question is not one of alignment. It's one of proportionality in self defence.

If some crazed LG Paladin assumes you're some Demon (via an illusion spell or whatever) and ruthlessly attacks you with his sword, it's proportionate to that threat to retaliate with lethal force, and this is not evil. If some crazed despot takes over a neighboring country, and deploys its (mostly good aligned) army against my home country, it is not evil to fight back (using lethal force) to defend that country.

Is it a tragedy? Absolutely. But it's not morally evil to do so, and it's never been deemed as such.

The only relevant question here, is when is the use of force (or lethal force) morally acceptable. It's not morally wrong to use force (including lethal force) in self defence or the defence of others, in a proportionate manner, and when no other option reasonably presents itself.

This is literally enshrined in every legal code in the world. It doesn't matter if a child murderer pulls a gun on you, or a hippie, vegan, peace loving, kind family man does so. You can blow them away, and it's not murder (there is no moral sanction for it).

I dont care what alignment either of them have on their 'character sheets'. It's not relevant.

It's not morally Good to kill either, even in those situations. It's just not morally evil.

Technically, absolute pacifism is the most morally Good option. A Vow against all killing, no matter the reason.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I guess it boils down to the "problem with talking about D&D". Everyone's experiences with the game are different. That annoys me because saying it feels like a cop out, but what can you do when someone is like "I've never encountered circumstance x or problem y, and in my games, we were having intense philosophical debates about alignment back when Elf was a class!"
 

I guess it boils down to the "problem with talking about D&D". Everyone's experiences with the game are different. That annoys me because saying it feels like a cop out, but what can you do when someone is like "I've never encountered circumstance x or problem y, and in my games, we were having intense philosophical debates about alignment back when Elf was a class!"

We've all played murder-hobos as young-uns, content on getting loot and killing monsters. Didnt even need a reason to be in a dungeon, it was all about monsters and loot.

As adults though it gets a bit more nuanced. I wouldnt want to play in a game where some neckbeard is telling me 'Orcs are all inherently evil, and so genocide against them is OK' (with justifications from the neckbeard) for example.

Im really not OK with the implications of that, or what it says about the neckbeard.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I haven't actually looked at the sheets of most characters I've played with, but from their behavior, I'm guessing a lot of them are neutral. I mean, I once sat out a combat (waaaayyyy back in Scales of War) because my character was Good. We'd made a deal with a dragon to get out of having to fight him, so we could take on the Githyanki Emperor by himself. And immediately afterwards, the other players wanted to kill the dragon too!

Me? I took the Emperor's crown and sat on his throne.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
How do you handle good characters doing evil things?

Assume your CG Fighter spots some Orcs (they're from a local village, and are out foraging for food). He Leeroy Jenkins them, and kills several, keeping a prisoner alive. He then proceeds to torture that Orc to locate the village location.

At what point do you intervene as DM?
It doesn’t come up, or hasn’t in well over a decade at least. Like I don’t have players that do that sort of thing, because it has been over a decade since I and the other DMs in the group agreed on that standing rule.

We also don’t care about alignment as such.

“No Evil characters” just means “No characters that habitually do evil things“.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
No, I'm simply arguing (and it really shouldn't even be an argument, to anyone outside of Hitler) that:

Mod Note:
Hitler?!?

Your argument is now, effectively, "If you don't agree with me, you're like Hitler."

That's really not acceptable. Please go find a thread that doesn't have you implying other posters are Hitler.
 

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