Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fifty Shades of Good AKA Coming to terms with the fact that you and your friends are homocidal sociopaths...

Last weekend my friends and I started a new mini 5th edition D&D campaign. It was a lot of fun, it always is playing with my friends, and I really love the changes made between 4th and 5th edition.

In this game I decided to play a dwarven Ranger named Fern. She left the mountains where she grew up and the first time she saw a forest, she never looked back. I decided that Fern was pesudo-hippy, totally relaxed, peaceful, and against killing.While we were making our characters and noming on some delicious take-out, my friend Andries asked everyone a question that passes many people's mouths while making characters together, "We're all playing Good-aligned, right?"

Echoes of yes, duh, shut up I'm eating, echoed through our group of friends and it was decided - we were playing a Good-aligned party. I thought to myself, "Phew! Now I can really try out this concept."

...Then we started to play...

Within twenty minutes of playing, our level 1 characters ask to 'simply' escort a caravan from point A to point B, we come across two horses that are littered with arrows. Everyone drew their weapons, getting ready for a fight, and Fern (my character) decided to get out of the caravan to take a closer look at some rustling she heard in the bushes. Low and behold two goblins pop up and start threatening her.

Fern tried to calm the goblins, speak to them, and it worked... kinda. After speaking to Fern the goblins decide that she was OK and did not attack her, but instead shot an arrow at one of her party members. This is when all hell broke loose. As a reaction to the arrow the parties' Cleric's god became super angry and smote down the goblin.

Now, this was not just a simple smiting... this was a 4d6 lighting bolt of doom that only left a scorch mark on the earth when it was done. I can only imagine it looked something like this:

After that our party made short work of the goblins, during combat Fern tried to shoo them away, non-leathal damage them, do anything not to murder another sentient life. She succeeded somewhat, one goblin got away, and to quote meatloaf, "two outta three ain't bad," so surely one out of fine wasn't horrible.

...But then we tracked the one goblin who escaped and murdered all the people in their burrow. By this point Fern was emotionally broken.

While she prizes keeping her allies alive above anyone else and also wanted to find the two poor souls who had been taken from their horses, she didn't want to murder everything in the process.

I had a lot of fun playing, we had a great GM, the adventure was great, and D&D is just a game - but I came to one over arching conclusion - wow, my other characters have really rationalized away A LOT of murder.

I tend to play 'good' aligned characters when I can. This is because I am the token GM of our group, so normally I have to play a lot of assholes and adversaries. So, when I have a chance to be the player, I like to kind of go with the group and be a generally nice person, it is a refreshing change for me... But playing someone as nice as Fern put a lot of things in perspective.

When my friends and I play D&D we are homicidal sociopaths. 

We murder a bunch of sentient creatures on a weekly basis, normally for money, and get guiltless zzz's at the end of it. Normally, after we murder these creatures (probably in their own homes at the time) we loot their houses, pull armor off their corpses, and sell everything they held dear to the highest bidder in order to buy ourselves more cool shit.

And you know what, this is OK.

I've read a lot of debates about what certain alignments mean in D&D. I find the topic interesting and I really love hearing people's arguments for and against things. Like - True Neutral - more evil that Chaotic Evil? However, I have personally concluded that we cannot hold D&D alignments against, what we as humans who live in this world, view as good and evil. You just can't.

Because really, would you entrust your life to a group of people who have on multiple occasions murdered a sentient creature and all their children... then looted their corpses, cut off their heads, and brought it to a tavern to tell everyone a cool story about how they killed a bunch of stuff?

...Wait don't answer that!

Have funny D&D, my party made my character cry stories? I want to hear them! Share below and tell me your two cents!


  1. I don't have much of a problem with the D&D Alignment system (though I far prefer Magic's color wheel as a way to classify characters), but I don't like the "Always Chaotic Evil" trope. The idea that characters, or even entire species, are always bad and can never change. It serves a function in D&D of course, so you can kill all the baddies without feeling bad, and I can accept it when we're dealing with Demons or Illithids, but with Goblins and Orcs and the like... When a species that is essentially just "Humans but green", with a fully functioning society, gets called "evil" it's a bit uncomfortable to me, and can even stand in the way of good roleplay (At least if you're play a "good" character. Why look for a solution that pleases both the village and the orc tribe when you can just kill all the orcs?)

    Having said that, there is of course fun to be had to deliberately play a character outside of your own social norms. Did you ever play/DM with my Avenger of Sune? The complete nutjob who never killed anyone, but who did force body modifications on defeated opponents in a mad quest to make the world more beautiful?

    1. No I never played with that character! They sound scary though XD!

  2. Orcs and gobbos aren't just like humanity though. The thing that people forget or overlook is that there are active gods out there. Gods who don't let their creations have free choice between good and evil. So it isn't the same thing as saying 'those green skinned humans are evil'. They literally are built that way.
    That said, it could be a rather interesting premise for a campaign to literally wage a holy war of redemption for an evil race. Fight your way into orc camps and kidnap as many of them as possible, drag them back to your village/temple and pray the evil out of them, so that they lose their connection to their evil deity. Not that there is typically anyway to cure that sort of thing, but it could be a rather interesting twist to a campaign.

    1. It sounds like a cool premise! The one thing I like about D&D (and other role play games) is the option to be flexible and creative. To not look at the world in absolutes - Devas can fall, but goblins can't rise? And the ability to ind creative solutions to problems. It sounds like a lot of fun to try to 'pray' the evil out of a goblin... *wheels in head spinning* XD