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GhostofAnakin

No Good or Evil? Two "Grey" Choices

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I like grey choices. I think I read some World of Darkness material recently (or maybe I just outright dreamt it) of a monster that was predating on a single town (say killing 20 people a month). The options posed to the players (as I said, I'm not even sure if I've remembered the source or scenario properly so take it with a pinch of salt) were along the lines of:

 

a) You can sacrifice a baby from the town to appease the monster permenantly. There is no other way to stop the monster from doing what it is doing. By doing this one fairly unspeakable act, you are saving countless lives in the long run, yet the people who petitioned you to help in the first place will hate you for this course of action.

 

b) You do nothing.

 

c) You manage to convince the monster to hunt more scrupulously, spreading its killings out over multiple settlements so the "hit" to any single settlement isn't so large - though in fact when you tell the monster of this plan he says he will now kill more people simply because he can get away with more without it being noticed. The town who asked for help thinks of you as a hero.

 

Which one of these is the morally right choice of action - who's to say? Maybe both a) and c) are good in certain respects (the former provides a long term solution, the latter provides a solution only for the town that was aggrieved) and bad in others (you have to kill a baby, or you are effectively making the monster's predation worse on the whole). Some might argue innaction is also the most evil/good choice (as though you aren't making matters better, you don't have to do anything questionable either).

 

I don't like black and white choices, as a true white choice ends up with you being celebrated for your good deeds whereas in a true black choice only the player profits - real life and real choices are often more complex. I see sacrificing the baby as the "white" choice above, and yet the townsfolk would hate you for it. By making a difficult decision, I'm guiding a character with a moral compass that I've imagined for them, and by taking that choice despite a lack of reward (either people thanking you or something material) I'm roleplaying. Troubling choices like that, which give me pause for thought and stay with me for a couple of days, are what make classic rpgs IMO.

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I have a nice example of my own from Arcanum, it was one of the earliest quest in this game and it already showed how the things works there. It was in Shrouded Hills village, where there was following premise: certain gnome alchemist offered you reward if you destroy steam machine the mayor owned, because it was disrupting and weakening his magic and thus threatening his priviledged position. You can tell the mayor right away and be done with it or accept. The catch? Said machine is guarded 24/7 by its keeper,a harmless mentally deficient dwarf, who just would not move and inch nor goes to sleep. So easiest way is simply killing this poor harmless fellow, destroy machine and collect reward and then make one more (fetch) quest for a said alchemist and be done with it... or not? You have also option to repair that machine for a mayor and kinda make up for your vandalism AND upset that gnome. This looks like ideal way, gnome have his quests fullfilled and mayor got his machine repaired, in the cost of one completely innocent man killed in cold blood and THAT I just couldnt morally accept, so, and here I'm getting to point I tried to come up with bloodless solution, first I gave poor dwarf bare handed beating untill he gave up and run away far enough from the reach of machine explosion. But because creators have thinked on of everything mayor was upset and would not let me repair his machine cuz dwarf told him Im the culprit. And so believe it or not I created new character, this time it was a master at prowling with proficiency in guns and mastery in Chemistry so I was able to create Anaesthezier and make my own Tranquilizer Gun to achieve my goal without a drop of a blood. See? When game mechanics gives you enough opportunities and tools to accomplish your goals based on your own morality you dont need just fleshed out choices from two good two draks or three grays, you are free to decide yourself.

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"Have you ever spoken with the dead? Called to them from this side? Called them from their silent rest? Do you know what it is that they feel?

Pain. Pain, when torn into this wakefulness, this reminder of the chaos from which they had escaped. Pain of having to live! There will be no more pain. There will be... no more chaos."

 

 

Kerghan the Terrible,

first of the Necromancers,

voyager in the Lands of the Dead.

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I like grey choices. I think I read some World of Darkness material recently (or maybe I just outright dreamt it) of a monster that was predating on a single town (say killing 20 people a month). The options posed to the players (as I said, I'm not even sure if I've remembered the source or scenario properly so take it with a pinch of salt) were along the lines of:

...

a) You can sacrifice a baby

b) You do nothing.

c) You manage to convince the monster to hunt more scrupulously, spreading its killings out over multiple settlements

if there were c1 variant - say, to target monster to pick local criminals, and c2 - to target it to storm local baron castle or raze rich city block (half a thousand men in it, all kinds of them, baron's men & townsfolk) with your help (it's fed for long, you got some shiny things) - such quest could be really interesting.

 

Otherwise - just hate "grey" choices implemented so. They are leaving taste of poorly thought and crudely implemented (walled) quest. If you cant manage obstacle, monster this case - well, so be it. But... There is whole world around suddenly. IF you wish to spend your time and effort - why can't you find some archmage to aid the town, relic sword to slay monster, dominate spell to get a puppet, even worse monster to replace that, just for fun & completion of contract?

Such artificially grey choices could only happen if you are very limited in time, though there should be choice to bluntly take the fight, even if monster is 10 lvls higher and is "obvious" instakill to the whole party.

Though again, such fights shouldn't be scripted to end one way. Give it enough stats, not script immunity. (Funny and silly moments - it's on 0 hp, arms&legs broken, poisoned, cursed ten different ways, but just won't die - and sudden inspiration: ehm, i ought to loose here... Should let it chew my boot now.).

 

Another thing about such quests - a hero suffers sudden amnesia after it's completion. Been humiliated by some creature/monster/man/obstacle or anything - our hero will newer seek satisfaction neither for greater good, not for his trampled pride.

 

Such artificial and imposed gray choices force you to hit walls (game limitations) that you'll newer mark yourself, therefore - quite dampen your association with a game.

Edited by SGray

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Well obviously there would be a few more choices, it was just an example; I don't think Obsidian would limit you to making two choices or a non-choice. Still I'm surpised to hear you feel strongly enough as to "hate" those choices. I don't hate black and white choices, I just like it when things aren't so easy on the player.

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I'm surpised to hear you feel strongly enough as to "hate" those choices.

Not gray choices as a whole. As fact i'm quite fond of doubts and uncertainty. And i told that earlier in that thread. But if i made to choose from bad, stupid and unreasoned, only to make choices more grayish - quite sure hate it.

Edited by SGray

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Oh look another one that's imagination on what is evil is poor. Normally people that just want grey choice, are ones that just want to play heroes. Sorry but I find playing an hero boring, especially when that is all you can be.

 

Everything grey is worse than everything evil and everything good. Far better to have good, evil and everything in between.

 

In the end it comes down to this, I want to be the villain of the story.

 

I don't think you're understanding (or you're completely ignoring) the points I've made in this thread. It's not necessarily about *no* evil or *no* good choices, period. It's about choices that aren't clearly marked as being more evil or good than other choices. In my idea, you can still play the bad guy. But instead of it being easy for you to decide which option to take, you'd have to think harder about the choice because of the potential consequences down the road.

 

For example, most games have a "good" choice and a "bad" choice, so you'd just have to click on the bad one to make sure your evil character continues his reign of doom. Like in KOTOR, if you were trying for an uber-bad Dark Side character, the game made it easy for you to raise your DS points by virtue of the options available to you, both in quests and in dialogue.

 

There could still be good and evil, and you can still make a super good or a super bad character. But the options shouldn't be so blatantly obvious that it takes one second to click on your choice.

 

What you described isn't grey choices though. It's well written choices, which I think everyone wants.

 

A grey choice, is where there is no moral choice, it's just a choice. Be it based on faction or like/dislike, neither evil nor good. It's also there because you can only be the hero, so it makes no sense to have alternatives to that. I don't want to see everything like this.

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Or where the morals are questionable, a good, well written, set of gray choices should leave you stumbling around in the fog grasping for a solution, recieving thin air as the foreseeable consequences of the choices you do find challenge your/your character's morality. They should make you think, leave you questioning and struggling to untangle them to find the one you can live with (what you can live with being subjective to your individual morality), in the midst of the fire and frying pan, so to speak. For that matter the consequences, foreseeable as you might think, still may not unfold in the longrun as you foresee in the short term and so on.

 

Should every single choice be like that? No. For one it'd be silly. For another it would dilute honest to goodness bits of writing gold if everything were along the same lines.

Edited by Umberlin

"Step away! She has brought truth and you condemn it? The arrogance!

You will not harm her, you will not harm her ever again!"

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Yes I agree with the above, having choices that makes you think, makes you feel uneasy in context of your own conscience and morality views versus given issue in place with different views on subject is great spice to things, but what is most important for me is to see at least some sort of resolution in that matter, I just can't stand it when no matter what choice or way you decide, in the end it makes you feel down and looking like fool, the outcomes should be varying not just bad or worse.

As for good or evil, the fact that people tend to justifie everything they do no matter how messed up stuff they are capable of, it's just part of human being, moral flexibility, justifying to no ends, reluctance to admit own mistakes/wrongdoings among others. What I mean is when these things are put to good use in story and settings they tend to make things much more deeper and memorable, like for instance in FO2 The Enclave who had not even a slightest of doubts that THEY are THE good guys.

Edited by Ywerion

"Have you ever spoken with the dead? Called to them from this side? Called them from their silent rest? Do you know what it is that they feel?

Pain. Pain, when torn into this wakefulness, this reminder of the chaos from which they had escaped. Pain of having to live! There will be no more pain. There will be... no more chaos."

 

 

Kerghan the Terrible,

first of the Necromancers,

voyager in the Lands of the Dead.

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I too support well written choices over ridiculous good/neutral/evil/grey/whatever choices. Evil choices don't make any sense, as "evil" people don't think of themselves as evil. There is a rationalization for everything, even if that rationalization is unrealistic.

 

For example, let's take a slaver:

 

The slaver isn't out to oppress his slaves. He provides them with food and shelter, the things they need to survive, and who can blame him for losing his temper when they act ungrateful? If it wasn't for him, they'd die of starvation or exposure. Sure, you can end their slavery by killing the slaver, but what will happen to them when he's gone? Will they be able to fend for themselves, or will they start fighting each other over the scraps? And murdering the slaver worse than anything he did to the slaves? How can you condemn slavery while condoning murder?

Edited by timobkg

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make choices based on how people argue. We're born lawyers and philosophers, Go look up the "justice: what's the right thing to do" series on youtube on how many ways there are to look at things. from consequencialist to categorical(fundamentalist) thinking.


Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
---
Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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