Twitter Follow

Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Favored Enemy: SJW Gamers



A recent post by a twitter-bud got me thinking...maybe you should read his post first here.

I think the post can be boiled down to this: A new player had a moral/ethical problem choosing a 'favored enemy'.

Pardon me, what?

I'm really confused.  I remember (vaguely) my first foray into D&D-land, and at no time did I have an issue killing the monsters, sentient or otherwise.  I was never, ever concerned that I might be 'ruining a family' or 'killing someones mom' or 'terrorizing a community' when it came to orcs, goblins, kobolds, giants, ogres, or any other sentient race of creatures who would eat me as soon as look at me.

Is this a generational reaction to the game?  Maybe.  I grew up playing Cops-n-Robbers, Cowboys-n-Indians, and hide the belt (if you don't know this one, ask me).  There were good guys, there were bad guys, and there was a belt...and everyone knew who the bad guys (and belt) were.  Robbers were bad, and we didn't question the morality of shooting them dead on the spot.  It was a game.  We all knew it was a game, and we knew our roles.

I am in no way advocating that in the real world, or at least the world most of us agree is the real one, that we shouldn't evaluate a situation and use our moral compass to guide us in making the correct decision (which is not, BTW, the same for everyone).  D&D and other role playing games are not, in any way, shape, or form the real world.  We are, as young people and as adults, playing a game in a mythical, made-up, fairy-tale land where the roles are once again very clear cut with regard to monsters.  Sure, there are plenty of times where the DM uses enemies/opponents that are not so simple to discern, but that's not what i'm talking about here.

Now I know that some person reading this is thinking, "Nope! Wrong!!  Many times I've negotiated with a sentient creature of evil alignment to come to a reasonable agreement where both parties were satisfied.  Learning to cooperate and find alternate, less violent resolution to problems is a big part of TTRPGs."  I know, I know.  I get it, I've been there, and I've done that, but in NO WAY is that, or should that be, the norm.  If it was, I would have thrown my dice at some annoying DM who wanted me to broker a deal with every ogre and troll my character met, and I would have found some other hobby to enjoy.

What does it say about folks who are just starting to play, right now learning the game, rolling up new characters when a question like the one in the blog post linked above becomes the focus of the session?  Are these the people who got 'participation trophies' just for showing up at soccer?  In games, there are winners and losers.  In D&D you've essentially 'lost' the game if your character dies.  Did you still have fun? Yep.  The game isn't over, you can roll up another character and keep playing, but that character that died, he lost.  If there is no PC death, then there is no risk...and without risk it's no longer a game, it's a story.

...and without enemies to defeat, there is no opponent.

Why the fuck does anyone, ANYONE, care about the feelings of a fictional orc?  This seems absurd.  If you have such a concern I think you may have chosen the wrong game to play.  No one dies in Tiddlywinks (except for my cousin Steve, who caught one in the eye...it was a horrible day I'll not soon forget), maybe that is the game for you.



"Pardon me Mr. Goblin, but I really would like that pile of gems and gold you have.  Perhaps you'd like to share some, or all, of it with me?  In return I promise to leave you and your very nice family live in peace.  I know I've chosen you as a favored enemy, but there's no reason we can't get along as long as you're willing to give up all that loot you stole from the surrounding villagers.  What's that?  You'd like share some of that fresh human stew your lovely wife prepared for dinner?  That's so kind of you, but I'm Vegan you see..no flesh for me, human or otherwise.  Pardon?  Yes, I do miss bacon.  I appreciate that she's using only organic human flesh but I really must refuse."

The initial blog post makes a good point about exploring alternative moralities, and that these sort of games are good for that.  I agree, 100%.  There are many opportunities to enjoy role-playing behavior that would never be acceptable in the real world.  Also, there are no orcs in the real world, though arguably there do seem to be some monsters.

So yeah, pick a favored enemy.  It's ok to hate (and attack) some foul, fetid, cave-dwelling creature whose only desires are driven by greed, hatred, and the extinction of any species not its own.  They are fictional monsters...MONSTERS.  Historically their lot in life is to be slain, so pick up your sword, axe, or bow and get to killin'!

Don't forget the loot...burning is optional...






15 comments:

  1. I'd have explained it to the player as these are a race/species you've fought many times before and as such you get a bonus against them - put it in terms of them defending their homeland if they have moral qualms.

    There is nothing at all wrong with someone wanting to play a moral character or indeed have one who is a pacifist, they're unlikely to be hugely successful but each to their own and so long as they have fun ... no harm no foul imho :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah it sure spoils my fun when someone else is having badwrongfun like that.O_o

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm gonna let this comment sit here, to remind me how dumb some comments can be. Thanks for reading.

      Delete
  3. Maybe the point would have been a bit better if you didn't use a picture of a goblin wearing a suit, and apparently at work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did that on purpose (obviously). Doesn't matter how you dress em up...still goblins.

      I'm also not a huge fan of the Potter-fication of many fantasy tropes, so it's a good bet my PC would kill these Armani-wearing goblins first.

      Delete
  4. 'Favoured Enemies' are simply the type of creature you have either encountered the most and so you know how they think or have studied up on because you think you will encounter them. This is why it is perfectly legit to choose you own race if you think bandits or criminals (or, if you are a bandit or criminal, guards) are going to be/have been your biggest problem. You don't need to hate them all, you don't need to attack them on sight, you just need to know their weaknesses and how to exploit them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Monsters are such interesting people

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and you just won the internet.

      Delete
    2. Sweet!!! My GF won the internet!

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. Thank you, thank you very much. Now dip your paddies in the water

      Delete
  6. I read that other post. My take: while I certainly endorse your title, I'm not certain that necessarily applies to that newbie ranger. Not all that strange for someone new to roleplaying or at least D&D to bring in their own take on things. Having some qualms about killing sentient beings is a very civilized take. Likely not feasible to avoid killing sentients given the others players in that campaign. The problem as I diagnose it is the DM. How easy would it be to pick animals or oozes or constructs as a favored enemy and then throw a couple of those into a few early encounters? What is wrong with a ranger choosing only to kill sentients in self-defense, and not offensively (assuming the newbie was willing to do that -- unclear from that post)? If we are looking for archetypes, the woodsman who lives at the edge of civilization yet has a more civilized sense of morality than those who come more directly from "civilization" -- it's been done a time or two before. And a little intra-party tension could make things interesting -- so long as even if the players have differing views, they are adult enough to make it work and keep it fun for all. Alternately, be upfront and say this is a hackandslash murderhobo sort of campaign, and are they still interested in playing? I'll caveat that there may be external factors (such as growing the hobby by getting new folks involved, for one) that might contraindicate a take or leave it approach. Either way, it shouldn't take a 3 hour philosophical discussion to process or accommodate that sort of view. But, you know, hey--if that is what they are into, no harm no foul, although it didn't sound to me as if the other players (or most) were all that keen on spending their session that way. In sum, I think that this topic scratched a particular itch of the DM there, so he indulged himself, even though the newbie likely could have been accommodated more easily, and at the expense of the other player's time and enjoyment. I could be wrong -- there is some interpreting involved. Still, I hope that the next session, someone got to roll some dice.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is really a difference in expectations. If you've been raised in a situation where you've never actually slaughtered an animal, or never been at war, or don't know anyone that's ever been at war, this is a perfectly reasonable. Self-defense is fine, but as a Ranger, you are a hunter. You hunt things. That's why you're a ranger. You may hunt game, or oozes, but you're still a hunter.
    Alignment is a funny thing, and it comes up a lot, so I'll give a quick perspective. It seems that both parts of alignment are callouts to natural and positive law. Good to Evil is about natural law. As a good character, you should be compelled to uphold morality. As an evil character, you should be compelled to defy it. Lawful to Chaotic is about positive law. As a lawful character, you should be compelled to uphold the laws you find yourself oath-bound to. If you are Chaotic, you should be compelled to break rules.
    There are many situations where there are ambiguities, just like life. Separating your real world beliefs from the alignment and beliefs of your character is an important part of the roleplaying experience. If you can't do this, learn how, or find another hobby. Many will not want to accommodate your lack of imagination.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The best way to handle this is to make your opponents so demonstrably evil that a reasonable persons reaction would be to kick the living shit out of them. Ranger got a problem with killing orcs? Wait, wait is that they are eating. A human baby. Omg. They are so dead.

    ReplyDelete