Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

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Rich H
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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by Rich H » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:29 am

I'm just going to quote this in isolation as it's something that has been said many times in this thread and, for me, is absolutely critical to the discussion:
Glorelendil wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:10 am
Again, Shadow points are not a measure of the absolute morality/justifiability of an act, they are a measure of the toll on one's psyche. Even if orcs are irredeemable, most people would balk at executions.
Even ignoring the right or the wrong of an action, think about the impact that has on the person carrying out such action. That's how Shadow can be awarded in those instances - not a judgment on the action but how the Shadow finds a way to affect people.

Also, I think there's a lot to be said as to how the PCs handle these kind of things. If as an LM I was unsure of the amount of Shadow to award due to an action (say there was a range) then I'd look for clues as to how the players RP'd their characters - ones who just performed the action mechanically would get more points than those that struggled to decide what to do or took upon the action with real regret. Those that perfomed it zealously would get more obviously. With such flexibility you could allow for them to take the hard action but with just a couple of points of Shadow gain rather than the full amount.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

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robertsconley
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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by robertsconley » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:53 pm

Rich H wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:29 am
Glorelendil wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:10 am
Again, Shadow points are not a measure of the absolute morality/justifiability of an act, they are a measure of the toll on one's psyche. Even if orcs are irredeemable, most people would balk at executions.
Even ignoring the right or the wrong of an action, think about the impact that has on the person carrying out such action. That's how Shadow can be awarded in those instances - not a judgment on the action but how the Shadow finds a way to affect people.
My group (two players) and I are experienced gamer and been playing for decades. At first we struggled with Shadow point and how it seems like arbitrary punishment akin to the debate people have over alignment. But then one of the players made an astute observation similar to the points above that shadow points represent the toll on one's spirit/soul over time.

That one aspect of Middle Earth roleplaying is that it about the long fight to do what right against overwhelming odds and time. That it may be that the characters are doomed, how one meets that doom is the measure of a person. Shadow points are a mechanic not unlike Call of Cthulu insanity mechanic represent this toll on a character.

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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by robertsconley » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:00 pm

MrUkpyr wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:07 pm
MEN have the possibility of being turned back to good. Creatues created by Shadow simply do not. They were created by evil to be evil and are irredeemablly evil.
The Shadow corrupts it can't create life on it own. Not even Melkor/Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, was able to do that.

I realize it sound nitpicking but it would have important philosophical ramifications for those in the world of Middle Earth dealing with this issue. The view that things fully corrupted by the Shadow are irredeemably evil would have considerable weight because of this.

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Rich H
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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by Rich H » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:06 pm

robertsconley wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:53 pm
My group (two players) and I are experienced gamer and been playing for decades. At first we struggled with Shadow point and how it seems like arbitrary punishment akin to the debate people have over alignment. But then one of the players made an astute observation similar to the points above that shadow points represent the toll on one's spirit/soul over time.
I have/had a similar experience Robert in my own group. It's no surprise the conversation comes up often here (ie, the TOR forum as well). It's certainly a feature of the game systems and not a failure but I feel perhaps this line of reasoning should, in hindsight, have been drawn out a little more explicitly to support gaming groups. I suspect it was obvious to the original authors but these things do carry baggage from other games - ie, alignment, dark side points, etc.
robertsconley wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:53 pm
That one aspect of Middle Earth roleplaying is that it about the long fight to do what right against overwhelming odds and time. That it may be that the characters are doomed, how one meets that doom is the measure of a person. Shadow points are a mechanic not unlike Call of Cthulu insanity mechanic represent this toll on a character.
Very much so!
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

Glorelendil
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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by Glorelendil » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:42 pm

Rich H wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:29 am
That's how Shadow can be awarded in those instances - not a judgment on the action but how the Shadow finds a way to affect people.
I love that phrasing. Yes, the Shadow "finds a way" to affect people, and the Shadow particularly thrives on exactly the kind of moral dilemma posed by the OP. The Shadow simply loves (to anthropomorphize it) when well-intentioned folk find themselves stuck between imperfect options. Internal conflict and self-doubt can be more effective at serving the Shadow's ends than actual actions and deeds.
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Rich H
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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by Rich H » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:30 pm

Glorelendil wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:42 pm
I love that phrasing. Yes, the Shadow "finds a way" to affect people, and the Shadow particularly thrives on exactly the kind of moral dilemma posed by the OP. The Shadow simply loves (to anthropomorphize it) when well-intentioned folk find themselves stuck between imperfect options. Internal conflict and self-doubt can be more effective at serving the Shadow's ends than actual actions and deeds.
:)

Interesting. You've made me think of the Shadow in another way. By using the words 'thrives' and 'loves' this is me making me wonder about its nature... This perhaps needs another thread starting but is there anything in Tolkien's supporting material that describes the Shadow. Is it simply an extension of (and therefore a part of) the Enemy or is it a cosmological or element 'force' of such. Does it have a thought and will of its own? Does it have some kind of intellect? Is it animalistic/primal and just functions instinctively? etc.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

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Otaku-sempai
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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by Otaku-sempai » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:56 pm

MrUkpyr wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:07 pm
It might behoove the DM in this situation to remind the players that there is a difference between Evil Men (who have been turned to evil by the Shadow), Creatures created by Shadow ( creatures created by Morgoth in the earliest days - Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, Dragons, Undead, Balrogs, and others / and also the Spiders who were created by Ungolliant), and Creatures warped by Shadow (evil bats and wolves and worgs).
Sorry for the delay, MrUkpyr. I meant to respond to this post when I first saw it, but got distracted by others and forgot about it.

You forget that Orcs were also once Children of Ilúvatar (either Elves or Men) who were twisted and corrupted by Melkor. Tolkien played around with other origins for the Orcs, but ultimately rejected them when he determined that Melkor could not create new life. For that matter, Balrogs are evil Maiar (as was Ungoliant), also not entities created by Melkor except in the sense that he led them down a dark path.
Killing a bunch of evil men who are enslaved by orcs would (and should) be different then killing a bunch of goblin slaves.

MEN have the possibility of being turned back to good. Creatues created by Shadow simply do not. They were created by evil to be evil and are irredeemablly evil.
Again, your premise is flawed. Orcs are in their origins either Elves or Men. They are living creatures with their own minds and wills (no matter how deeply subjugated). At some level they could hypothetically be redeemed even if the effort would be almost doomed to fail. There is a difference between killing in the heat of battle and cold-blooded murder or there is no point to having the Shadow mechanic.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by Glorelendil » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:05 pm

Here's another illustrative example: the Trolley Problem.

5 cent version of the Trolley Problem: a train is going down a track toward 5 workers. You have the chance to throw a switch, redirecting the car to a spur where there is only one worker. Do you cause the one worker to be killed to save the 5? (In the problem there are no other solutions; it's either A or B.)

If there was no switch, and all you could do is watch, you might still gain Shadow just for seeing the tragedy. But if there is a switch you might gain more Shadow, regardless of what choice you make, because now in addition to witnessing the tragedy you are going to have to live with the decision you made. And in wrestling with that question, and wondering if you're a good person, your defenses against the Shadow are lessened.
There's no right/wrong or good/evil, just human (or Hobbit) doubt.
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Re: Fate of Goblin slaves - a moral dilemma

Post by Hero_of_Canton » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:08 pm

Anarfin wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:20 am
Glorelendil wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:10 am
Bear in mind that whether or not orcs are 'redeemable' in an absolute sense is not something anybody less than Elrond or Gandalf...if even they...would have much insight on. We have full knowledge of the Silmarillion and Tolkien's letters and even we can't agree. I hardly expect your typical Hobbits and Dwarves to be considering such factors when deliberating whether to execute captives.

"Well, on the other hand, they were originally Elves, you know..."
(Scottish Accent) "Blimey you're right. We'd better slit their bellies so they suffer longer..."
-Frar, for the love of Varda, what are you doing?!
-I am givin' those goblin slaves a merciful death, lad...
-You're beating them to death with your mattock!
-I 'ave no other option, lad. 'ave no other weapon and those buggers are not cooperatin'.
-Maybe because you are covered in their blood from head to toe?!
-It's a 'eavy work, laddie... I told them to stay still and make things easier for me and them, but they're screamin', cowerin' in fear or beggin' for mercy. It would be awful, if I hadn't known better.
-Known better?
-Yeah. I pity 'em, but they're irredeemable, ya know?
-How can you know this?
-Some wise-ass professor wrote that in one of his letters. That's enough fer me to make it ok. Well, little buggers, do not make a scene, stop runnin' in circles, come 'ere, let the Frar be merciful today...
:lol: I LOVE IT!!!

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