View Single Post
Old 10-12-2009, 06:46 AM   #15
demonsbane's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Spain —Europe
Default Re: [DF] Law vs. Chaos instead of Good vs. Evil

Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
There's no real reason to subscribe to an "evil" philosophy, and every reason to subscribe to a "good" philosophy.

Mind you, the point of GvE isn't rich and nuanced exploration of philosophy, it's explicitly working against that.
That's looking from the surface only. The humanistic view point doesn't do justice to the Fantasy genre, nor to Dungeon Fantasy.

As this is related with cosmology (and secondarily with "religion"), a "good" philosophy can be undesirable for many people (well, it is) because ultimately it involves sacrifice, renounce to egotistical desires and finally ego (personal) annihilation for the return to the Summum Bonum.

"Evil", on the other hand, denies and objects to the return to the Summum Bonum and in the earthly sphere it offers the illusion of personal inmortality and fulfillment of all egotistical desires. That's the place of villains searching physical (and personal, even in form of spirit-ghost) inmortality, all that going in the direction of the Summum Malum. Here are the well-known, -but not so well understood- examples of Fantasy Necromancers and Liches.

"Good" and "Evil" are just moral terms for impersonal cosmological principles which would be more suitably addressed as Essence and Substance. However, these impersonal terms aren't "moving the guts" of many people, so you have here a "moral" sort of translation.

Good versus Evil has everything for nuanced philosophy. The "problem" with that is the endorsed point of view highlights heavily both ends of the spectrum. It's a statement of the cosmic dualities Yang and yin.

You can use it childishly or not: it depends of you, of your mood or your understanding.

Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
I could call it the Darkness, or Hell, Entropy or even "Chaos" if you like. But it would still be evil, in that in order to use it's power you have to hurt people around you.
I agree. But this needs to be understood at a cosmic level, reflecting itself in the human (or earthly) sphere.

Thus human evil would be a diminished reflection of the darkness in itself.

Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
Because other abilities AREN'T available to them. Either they can't pay the entry fee whatever it is, or the other abilities won't do what they want done, whatever it is.

There are beings whose individual nature predisposes them towards certain paths blocked to others ("Lichdom"), while they find different paths open to some others ("salvation", "heroic godhood", "eternal release") blocked to them.

(OK, speaking of the bad-guys, maybe through unblocking more options with immense efforts, they can find some sort of redemption.)

Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
What are you talking about? Anyone can be a cleric, holy warrior, martial artist or wizard. It's right there in the book.
As Mailanka said, anyone can chose to be whatever, like a Holy Warrior or an Unholy Blackguard, however that's only true from a purely gamist and rules-wise approach. Throw there a bit of character and even setting background enlivening thus the characters and David Johnston2's point will make perfect sense.

Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
Why would you bother to design a character loaded up with Sadism, Higher Purpose (steal candy from babies) and Code of Honor (Blackgaurd) if you didn't have to? Either you give them a reason (what you seem to be trying to do), leave it to NPCs or the rare PC who's a fan of Overlord style play (which gives you the mustache twirlers), or you do what B-dog is doing, and come up with something alternate, that creates more compelling reasons to subscribe to another philosophy.
Despite that childish portray of evil (steal candy from babies, etc) the darkness is a very attractive force. Specially when "light" isn't operating in a setting, or not with the same intensity (it's a very attractive force, too). Both of them just don't pull in the same ontological directions. BTW, the "Above and Below" box in 4e GURPS Fantasy p. 40 accounts for them, between other things.

The intrinsic attraction of darkness (evil, chaos, adharma, etc) is a reason for evil characters. They can be unaware of the true nature of this attraction, however -and this can be even probable.

Besides, darkness and evil makes all the possible efforts for posing as good things, as advantageous things, as desirable things, and even as morally correct things. Only rarely darkness, chaos and evil show itself as it really is, and for that a extremely unusual and/or supernatural (better said: preternatural) understanding on part of the subject, or a kind of phenomenological manifestation of the darkness would be needed.

You have here two basic motivations for evil characters, able to being fleshed out as you could imagine. And many of these characters (PCs & NPCs) doesn't need to know they are in the dark side of the spectrum.


Regarding b-dog trying to overwrite Good vs. Evil with Law vs. Chaos, I don't see great differences. In the name of "Good" huge atrocities can be done, and not only like in the Crusades, but even today. It's happening all the time. You know, "The way to hell is paved with good intentions". "Good", as some people understand it, can be really evil in a disguised form. Like "Chaos", which can be easily disguised as "Freedom". "Law" can further the cause of chaos or evil when it isn't truly Law. And so on.

I think b-dog, and many others, think of "evil" as a too unilateral and naive thing, unworthy of serving as background for PCs, NPCs and settings; hence threads like this.

That naive view of "evil" and "demons" is a result of the humanistic mentality (except when we're speaking of the Nazis and Adolph Hitler), in which nor heaven nor hell were believable anymore, and caricaturesque portrayals of both were fashionable to extreme dullness.

It's understandable to react against that dullness but I believe the solution isn't to change the terms (anyway it's OK to do it in your campaign if you prefer so), but instead to restore their proper meanings and dimensions.
"Let's face it: for some people, roleplaying is a serious challenge, a life-or-death struggle."
J. M. Caparula/Scott Haring

"Physics is basic but inessential."
Wolfgang Smith

My G+

Last edited by demonsbane; 10-12-2009 at 07:29 AM. Reason: typos
demonsbane is offline   Reply With Quote