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Morality in Eternity

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So, judging by the blurb we've got so far it seems that some of the major themes of Eternity are going to be morality and what constitutes "Good" or "Evil". One of the examples was asking whether sacrificing someone for the greater good could, in itself, be a good act. Of course, you may not be playing through the game as yourself and instead be roleplaying your character as much as possible, but it's still an interesting question to ask.

 

Would you consider the sacrifice of, let's say a companion, to be a good act if it helps save a village? What if the sacrifice wasn't their choice, but still saved those lives? Would a character who lived in what could possibly be a fairly brutal world hold the same view?

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A companion for a village? No.

 

A companion for a nation? Maybe.

 

Sacrifice should not be an arbitrary move forced on another. Greater Good is a decent concept, but ask yourself: is a village full of bumpkins even remotely comparable to a person who accompanies you on your travels and has likely accumulated knowledge and experience sufficient to make a world better?


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A companion for a village? No.

 

A companion for a nation? Maybe.

 

Sacrifice should not be an arbitrary move forced on another. Greater Good is a decent concept, but ask yourself: is a village full of bumpkins even remotely comparable to a person who accompanies you on your travels and has likely accumulated knowledge and experience sufficient to make a world better?

 

So they shouldn't do it because their life is worth more than those useless peasants - A single person for twenty isn't worth it? How about fifty, or a hundred? What number does it need to be to make it a worthwhile death? Even if it was their decision to sacrifice themselves to save these people, would you attempt to stop them? By force if necessary?

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So, judging by the blurb we've got so far it seems that some of the major themes of Eternity are going to be morality and what constitutes "Good" or "Evil". One of the examples was asking whether sacrificing someone for the greater good could, in itself, be a good act. Of course, you may not be playing through the game as yourself and instead be roleplaying your character as much as possible, but it's still an interesting question to ask.

 

Would you consider the sacrifice of, let's say a companion, to be a good act if it helps save a village? What if the sacrifice wasn't their choice, but still saved those lives? Would a character who lived in what could possibly be a fairly brutal world hold the same view?

Eh, I'm not sure what this question - a moral question posed to the members of the forum - has to do with the morality in Eternity.

 

That said, it would all depend on the "Companion". Despite what some may try to tell us, I do not believe in "everyone's equal value". Nobody does. Some are more important to you than others, and the fact that people prioritize their loved ones or their friends is entirely natural. A stranger is just a stranger, and you can relate no more to someone in an isolated village or a far-off foreign nation much more than a house fly.

 

The idea that I would sacrifice someone I called a friend and had bled with in battle for complete strangers is crazy. That said, it is entirely up to him if he wants to help me help the village - which I would likely be want to do.

 

There's a lot of circumstance involved in this.

 

But my immediate reaction, knowing not who the companion were, our relationship, if we have taken oaths together, his personality, is "Hell no."

 

A companion for a village? No.

 

A companion for a nation? Maybe.

 

Sacrifice should not be an arbitrary move forced on another. Greater Good is a decent concept, but ask yourself: is a village full of bumpkins even remotely comparable to a person who accompanies you on your travels and has likely accumulated knowledge and experience sufficient to make a world better?

 

So they shouldn't do it because their life is worth more than those useless peasants - A single person for twenty isn't worth it? How about fifty, or a hundred? What number does it need to be to make it a worthwhile death? Even if it was their decision to sacrifice themselves to save these people, would you attempt to stop them? By force if necessary?

How many peasants is your mother worth? Your brother? Your friend? Your comrade-in-arms?

 

Would you throw your father in front of a train to save 10 rapists?

 

Don't be ridiculous.

Edited by Luckmann

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So, judging by the blurb we've got so far it seems that some of the major themes of Eternity are going to be morality and what constitutes "Good" or "Evil". One of the examples was asking whether sacrificing someone for the greater good could, in itself, be a good act. Of course, you may not be playing through the game as yourself and instead be roleplaying your character as much as possible, but it's still an interesting question to ask.

 

Would you consider the sacrifice of, let's say a companion, to be a good act if it helps save a village? What if the sacrifice wasn't their choice, but still saved those lives? Would a character who lived in what could possibly be a fairly brutal world hold the same view?

Eh, I'm not sure what this question - a moral question posed to the members of the forum - has to do with the morality in Eternity.

 

That said, it would all depend on the "Companion". Despite what some may try to tell us, I do not believe in "everyone's equal value". Nobody does. Some are more important to you than others, and the fact that people prioritize their loved ones or their friends is entirely natural. A stranger is just a stranger, and you can relate no more to someone in an isolated village or a far-off foreign nation much more than a house fly.

 

The idea that I would sacrifice someone I called a friend and had bled with in battle for complete strangers is crazy. That said, it is entirely up to him if he wants to help me help the village - which I would likely be want to do.

 

There's a lot of circumstance involved in this.

 

But my immediate reaction, knowing not who the companion were, our relationship, if we have taken oaths together, his personality, is "Hell no."

 

A companion for a village? No.

 

A companion for a nation? Maybe.

 

Sacrifice should not be an arbitrary move forced on another. Greater Good is a decent concept, but ask yourself: is a village full of bumpkins even remotely comparable to a person who accompanies you on your travels and has likely accumulated knowledge and experience sufficient to make a world better?

 

So they shouldn't do it because their life is worth more than those useless peasants - A single person for twenty isn't worth it? How about fifty, or a hundred? What number does it need to be to make it a worthwhile death? Even if it was their decision to sacrifice themselves to save these people, would you attempt to stop them? By force if necessary?

How many peasants is your mother worth? Your brother? Your friend? Your comrade-in-arms?

 

Would you throw your father in front of a train to save 10 rapists?

 

Don't be ridiculous.

 

So you'd try to stop him if he attempted to save it by himself? You'd restrain him, let the village die?

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I agree that this concept is something worthy of exploration in a game. All the games that I've played make the "good" choice the no brainer choice -- any sacrifices that you might appear to make are nullified or more the compensated for down the line. In particular, I'd like to see:

 

* "Doing the right thing" locks you out of signficant amounts of content (say, 3-5 quests worth).

* What the gameworld / society considers "good" doesn't agree with modern morality -- and chosing to side with modern morality is treated as "evil" as far as the reaction of the game world is concerned.

* The gap between the reward for "good" behavior and the actual action is very long (30 - 50% of total gameplay time), and the consequences are immediate.

 

To provide a concrete example of how I would like to see this work, the PC is in an area where slavery (non-race based -- criminals (petty and otherwise) are enslaved instead of being incarcerated and they are prevented [via magical means] from having children). Nobody (and I mean nobody) in the area is interested in changing this. If the PC insists on advocating "freedom for the slaves", then nobody is going to support him/her in this quest except the slaves -- who, keep in mind, are all / mostly criminals. Since most potential quest-givers are slave owners, this creates a real problem for the player. Much later in the game, however, the PC would find another society that doesn't believe in slavery of this sort, and if the player did remain consistant in his/her beliefs they will treat the player as something of a hero. This won't necessarily result in extra quests / XP / loot, but it probably should (in some minor way -- not enough to fully compensate for the missed quests / XP / loot).

 

If being evil has negative consequences, then there should be situations where being good also has negative consequences, and that's something that no game has explored.

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So you'd try to stop him if he attempted to save it by himself? You'd restrain him, let the village die?
Of course not.

 

Your question was whether we'd sacrifice a companion to save a village. If he chooses to sacrifice himself, I will be right there beside him, helping to save the village.

 

Which I even said, plain as day.

Edited by Luckmann
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I wouldn't really like to see a good/evil alignment system, simply because it's arbitrary and feels like the game is forcing it's concept of what is good or evil on the player. Actions should have consequences, consequences that change how people in the world react to you, certain NPCs/villages/factions may come to hate or love you based on your actions, but you're only "good" or "evil" in the eyes of those people, not in the eyes of some universal morality system. It should be possible to be viewed as as Saint by some and the Devil himself by others, at the same time, depending on your choices.

Edited by Crosmando

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I think it is fair (and possibly interesting), however, to provide a case where the only way to save the villiage is the involuntary sacrifice of a companion. If you choose not to do so, then there would be consequences from that action (namely, relatives / friends / allies of the villagers aren't going to be at all happy with you).

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I think it is fair (and possibly interesting), however, to provide a case where the only way to save the villiage is the involuntary sacrifice of a companion. If you choose not to do so, then there would be consequences from that action (namely, relatives / friends / allies of the villagers aren't going to be at all happy with you).

Wait, relatives and friends would be unhappy with me deciding not to push them in front of trains to save hapless strangers gallivanting along the railroad tracks?

 

And how do you involuntarily sacrifice someone? Doesn't the very meaning of sacrifice suggest voluntary action, a concious decision?

Edited by Luckmann

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So you'd try to stop him if he attempted to save it by himself? You'd restrain him, let the village die?
Of course not.

 

Your question was whether we'd sacrifice a companion to save a village. If he chooses to sacrifice himself, I will be right there beside him, helping to save the village.

 

Which I even said, plain as day.

 

What if you couldn't help him? You couldn't stand side by side with him, just leave him to his fate?

 

Say your companion is on the run for a severe crime. One that you know he didn't commit, but don't yet have concrete proof that you can use to exonerate him. The people chasing you, bounty hunters or guards, track yo down as you pass through this village and send an ultimatum. Either your companion gives himself up to the hunters so that his sentence can be carried out (execution), or they'll raze the village and kill everyone in it. You could probably escape in that kind of Chaos, but your companion is adamant on giving himself up so that the village is safe.

 

What would you do, let him walk off as you continue on with whatever your quest is, knowing that he'll be forever remembered as a terrible criminal, or would you try to convince him to run? This companion who you've been traveling with, helping him discover who had framed him and why, trying to get the death sentence hanging around his neck loosed. Would you just let him save these people who probably would've turned him in if they knew he was wanted?

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Actually, I would be in support of several "morality meters", something along what was SUPPOSED to be a part of Fable 2: cruelty/mercy, greed/generousness, lawfulness/anarchism etc. In this way we could at least have a measurment of just what type of a person we are.

 

I know that many players are against it, instead favouring "no meters", like in Dragon Age BUT, please remember, in case the factions of the game will be following a philosophical agenda rather than an economic one, such meters could allow the player to have a gauge at just how much does his character (not the mindset of the player) fit in with a particular organisation.

 

Or perhaps something along the lines of "morality perks" would be advisable. For instance, once you kill a set number of elves, you get an "Elf Hater" perk, which automatically alters how elves within a given region view you.

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I think it is fair (and possibly interesting), however, to provide a case where the only way to save the villiage is the involuntary sacrifice of a companion. If you choose not to do so, then there would be consequences from that action (namely, relatives / friends / allies of the villagers aren't going to be at all happy with you).

Wait, relatives and friends would be unhappy with me deciding not to push them in front of trains to save hapless strangers gallivanting along the railroad tracks?

 

And how do you involuntarily sacrifice someone? Doesn't the very meaning of sacrifice suggest voluntary action, a concious decision?

 

What about the way the Aztecs did it? Or they could just go Wicker Man on your party.

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What if it was the other way around: not that you would sacrifice a companion to save a village, but would you sacrifice a village to save a companion? And what would that companion do if they found out? Could make for some very awkward conversations... I'd like to see it.

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So you'd try to stop him if he attempted to save it by himself? You'd restrain him, let the village die?
Of course not.

 

Your question was whether we'd sacrifice a companion to save a village. If he chooses to sacrifice himself, I will be right there beside him, helping to save the village.

 

Which I even said, plain as day.

 

What if you couldn't help him? You couldn't stand side by side with him, just leave him to his fate?

You're getting awfully specific with the scenarios here. If I can't stand side by side with him, and I can't help him, then why is the question even relevant? If I am powerless to change his fate, this has nothing to do with morality, because there is no action on my part that will result in any variant outcome.

 

Say your companion is on the run for a severe crime. One that you know he didn't commit, but don't yet have concrete proof that you can use to exonerate him. The people chasing you, bounty hunters or guards, track yo down as you pass through this village and send an ultimatum. Either your companion gives himself up to the hunters so that his sentence can be carried out (execution), or they'll raze the village and kill everyone in it. You could probably escape in that kind of Chaos, but your companion is adamant on giving himself up so that the village is safe.

 

What would you do, let him walk off as you continue on with whatever your quest is, knowing that he'll be forever remembered as a terrible criminal, or would you try to convince him to run? This companion who you've been traveling with, helping him discover who had framed him and why, trying to get the death sentence hanging around his neck loosed. Would you just let him save these people who probably would've turned him in if they knew he was wanted?

See, now we are actually nearing some kind of moral ambiguity here. The essence of this question boils down to "Would I try to talk a friend out of doing what he thinks is right?".

 

Seeing as he is my friend, I would try to talk him out of it - these peasants are nothing to me, but I assume that we are talking about a comrade here, a friend for quite some time, that could be considered a considerable emotional loss to me. But ultimately, I would respect his decision.

 

I resent the dichotomy of the question, however. There is also the option to fight against the pursuers, the bounty hunters or guards. Not to mention that burning a village because someone happened to pass through is largely nonsensical. Given their appetite for violence, it is arguable that they could very well burn the village even if my friend gives himself up, since they are clearly unbalanced individuals to make that threat to begin with.


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Actually, I would be in support of several "morality meters", something along what was SUPPOSED to be a part of Fable 2: cruelty/mercy, greed/generousness, lawfulness/anarchism etc. In this way we could at least have a measurment of just what type of a person we are.

 

I know that many players are against it, instead favouring "no meters", like in Dragon Age BUT, please remember, in case the factions of the game will be following a philosophical agenda rather than an economic one, such meters could allow the player to have a gauge at just how much does his character (not the mindset of the player) fit in with a particular organisation.

 

Or perhaps something along the lines of "morality perks" would be advisable. For instance, once you kill a set number of elves, you get an "Elf Hater" perk, which automatically alters how elves within a given region view you.

 

No real need for an actual meter, you could just look around a factions HQ or similar location and listen in on what people think of you. Maybe even break in to one of the higher-ups offices and see if they've got a report on your actions.

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What if it was the other way around: not that you would sacrifice a companion to save a village, but would you sacrifice a village to save a companion? And what would that companion do if they found out? Could make for some very awkward conversations... I'd like to see it.

This one is actually much more interesting. Would you push 20 people in front of a train to save your father?

 

Then the question becomes not whether you'd sacrifice someone you love to save 20 strangers, but rather if you'd sacrifice 20 innocents to save someone you love.

 

I'd probably still do it. But I'd feel much worse about it.

Edited by Luckmann

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See, now we are actually nearing some kind of moral ambiguity here. The essence of this question boils down to "Would I try to talk a friend out of doing what he thinks is right?".

 

Seeing as he is my friend, I would try to talk him out of it - these peasants are nothing to me, but I assume that we are talking about a comrade here, a friend for quite some time, that could be considered a considerable emotional loss to me. But ultimately, I would respect his decision.

 

I resent the dichotomy of the question, however. There is also the option to fight against the pursuers, the bounty hunters or guards. Not to mention that burning a village because someone happened to pass through is largely nonsensical. Given their appetite for violence, it is arguable that they could very well burn the village even if my friend gives himself up, since they are clearly unbalanced individuals to make that threat to begin with.

 

Consider it as if they are a large group. A huge group, that have pretty much surrounded the village that you're trying to hide in. They've got better weapons and armour than you, as well as more mages. Even if you attempted to form a militia with the villagers, they're either too scared or too resentful of you bringing this threat to them to try and fight.

 

Also, would you still let him go if you had the inkling that he's not only trying to save the village, but you and your other companions too? Could be that he's just using the village as an excuse and that he's only doing this because he knows that it'll save you from suffering the same fate.

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So, judging by the blurb we've got so far it seems that some of the major themes of Eternity are going to be morality and what constitutes "Good" or "Evil". One of the examples was asking whether sacrificing someone for the greater good could, in itself, be a good act. Of course, you may not be playing through the game as yourself and instead be roleplaying your character as much as possible, but it's still an interesting question to ask.

 

Would you consider the sacrifice of, let's say a companion, to be a good act if it helps save a village? What if the sacrifice wasn't their choice, but still saved those lives? Would a character who lived in what could possibly be a fairly brutal world hold the same view?

Let's suppose that our character is not influenced by our ideas.

 

Which are the moralities enforced in the different nations and social groups? "Good" and "Evil" are just constructs defined by each and that can change. Some may value life so much that sacrifying one to save others may be taboo. Others may be more into the good of the society over the individual, and sacrifying one individual to save many may be the "right thing to do". Or the "Survival of the fittest".

 

An individual not limited by artificial ideas about what is right and wrong, would just value the companion's importance versus the importance of the village. And then hope that his decission is actually the most beneficial for whatever he actually hopes to achieve.

 

On one hand, it's nice to die for what you believe in even if that dooms the universe. On the other hand, dooming the universe (and everyone in it) for sticking to your values... well, kind of sucks. Except that maybe for your moral values you are being a hero.

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Consider it as if they are a large group. A huge group, that have pretty much surrounded the village that you're trying to hide in. They've got better weapons and armour than you, as well as more mages. Even if you attempted to form a militia with the villagers, they're either too scared or too resentful of you bringing this threat to them to try and fight.

The certainty of defeat has never been an acceptable cause not to try. If we choose to fight, we fight. I didn't even consider the peasants in this. I'd rather die helping a friend than to let him die causeless.

 

Also, would you still let him go if you had the inkling that he's not only trying to save the village, but you and your other companions too? Could be that he's just using the village as an excuse and that he's only doing this because he knows that it'll save you from suffering the same fate.
Haha, oh, god no. I'd put him in irons and drag him from the village in chains if necessary. He ain't going to be sacrificing himself on my account while I'm around. He dishonours me by even thinking such a thing, trying to protect me from doing what's right.

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This is a false dichotomy, how can a companion death saves a village? He jumps on a fire in some kind of sick ritual?

 

Of course he can die trying to defend it, but that is totally diferent thing.

 

IMO I always consider this a non optimal solution that should not be pressed on the player without others options.

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This is a false dichotomy, how can a companion death saves a village? He jumps on a fire in some kind of sick ritual?

 

Yes, that works. You know, with 100% certanity, that a volcano is going to erupt directly underneath the village in exactly 2 minutes. If you companion kills himself in that time, you know, with 100% certanity, that the volcano will not erupt. If it erupts, everyone that is in the village will die. The companion in question has a teleport spell, but it is only sufficent to take him (and up to 5 other people) out of harms way. He doesn't want to die, and will use the teleport spell on himself if you refuse to go along with him. He also isn't willing to leave you (or the rest of the party) to die and save villagers instead. What do you do? Note that if you do nothing, the companion will save himself and leave you to die -- he doesn't want to do that, but under no circumstances will he save villagers if you refuse to go.

 

IMO I always consider this a non optimal solution that should not be pressed on the player without others options.

 

I strongly disagree with you -- there really is such a thing as a no-win scenario, and exploring it via games is certainly viable. However, most game publsihers agree with you, so this type of scenario is unheard of in games. I also expect that the vast majority of the game playing audiance agrees with you as well... :)

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So they shouldn't do it because their life is worth more than those useless peasants - A single person for twenty isn't worth it? How about fifty, or a hundred? What number does it need to be to make it a worthwhile death? Even if it was their decision to sacrifice themselves to save these people, would you attempt to stop them? By force if necessary?

 

I would. Worthwhile people should only sacrifice themselves, if the net gain is greater than zero, i.e. sacrificing themselves to save a library holding the collected, priceless knowledge of many generations or a town whose inhabitants and infrastructure is vital to the region or significantly improves people's lives by providing workplaces. Sacrificing important people for a village of replaceable peasants is foolish. I can understand delaying the enemy long enough to allow the people to escape, but paying with life for that? Too steep a price I say.

 

 

Choices have to be made, together with calculations. We cannot assume that every life has the exact same value in these kinds of situations. A general is not worth the same as a private - why should that be false for civilians?

 

Also, Luckmann, I sincerely hope you're not the same guy I ran into earlier, who claimed that Alfred Rosenberg was a rational theoretician of a rational doctrine called national socialism. That'd make everything you post pretty skewed.


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Great thread! Morality is definitely an option in a game which lists Chris Avellone as one of its creators =))

 

What troubles me in most of the RPGs is that the "right" choice is almost always the best (most effective) both in a short and in a long terms. You get the best prize (best item, best prices) by doing what is "right". And whenever you go "to the dark side" life is getting hard. In real life its vice verse most of the time.

 

If you spend the huge amount of your money to help some orphan house all you will have for yourself is knowledge that you "did the right thing". No magic sword, no treasure chest - just feeling right. If you steal from those orphans you're one pile of crap of a person... but richer then you were before you did what you did.

 

In the short term doing "good" should not be profitable. In the long term - maybe, but not necessary.

 

In my opinion playing in a world with no immediate reward for being "good" would be WAY more interesting than in a standard "kill bad guys get your gold" fantasy.

 

For example, being a paladin in such a world would be one of a kind experience =)

 

Yeah I'm a hardcore roleplayer. And I'm proud of it ;)

Edited by Romiras

Been there. Seen that. Got the scars.

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Planescape Torment did it right: there was no "optimal" road, being good usually meant lower monetary rewards, while being a scumbag was generally more profitable, but also shut off some quests.

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