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    35 KB How to do a Dark Setting Properly The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)19:17 No.13153489  
    Morally Ambiguous Settings

    So, I hear you want to write a dark and morally gray setting. How delightful. It’s not like we don’t have enough of those around already. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a setting that utilizes more realistic or darker shades of morality, it’s just that so many attempts to write such a campaign fall under Sturgeon’s Law: they are completely and utterly a waste of effort on the part of the author, and if the campaign doesn’t soon bog down due to the players getting fed up with your utterly ridiculous and irrational shenanigans, the game will implode as the narrative body of the universe cuts the cancerous plot tumor you have implanted within it.

    Fortunately for you, I am here to help. Allow me to explain the dos and don’ts of writing a morally dark and ambiguous setting. This advice will be broken up into sections based partly upon the First Rule of Thumb: The Two Demons Method.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)19:18 No.13153499
    Lesson One: The Two Demons Method
    Yes, the name is an illustrative metaphor for what the method actually entails. Here is the short of it: in your campaign world there are two metaphorically demons out there. One is Black and it represents the empowerment of unabashed wickedness that is being handed out to your bad guys. One is Grey and it represents unsavory options and dark roads that might be taken by the good guys. The Black Demon should be applied first, followed by the Grey Demon, at least when you first start off.

    Why Two Demons?
    Simple, because we can’t have one, it would defeat the purpose. Why is that, you ask? Simple: because the two represent concepts that should be kept separate and distinct in the hopes of keeping your players from rolling their eyes at your railroading and suspension of disbelief killing antics. The rules applying to tempting what would otherwise be good people and the rules applying to empowering the bad guys might look similar to the unpracticed, but the two are as different as night and day. When you have sufficiently brought a character from one to the other, you have accomplished a Turn: more on that later. Until then, keep your rules separate.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)19:19 No.13153507
    The Black Demon Part One: Worldbuilding

    Now, let’s take a look at our campaign world. Now, we should start building the way we start building any campaign world: by making decisions about certain broad categories, then narrowing it down. As they say, the devil is in the details. The questions you would normally answer, like how much magic is there, what is the standard power level in the world, what are politics like, and what kind of a place is it physically.

    Don’t fall into one of the most common pitfalls the unwary do when writing up such a campaign: you are not building a world for the explicit purpose of making it grimdark. I can’t begin to stress how bad of an idea this is: designing a world where the first principle is “Good is doomed to failure: Evil is the only option” is a horrible idea as it feels forced and leads to underdevelopment. Not even 40k does this: the tragedy of 40k is that so many of the horrors of the setting could have been averted if not for the failings of those involved. Victory was on the table, but it is adds an element of depth when it is the foolish actions of the “good” that snatches victory from their jaws.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)19:19 No.13153515
    The Devil is in the Details
    Now that you have a broad view of the world you will be campaigning in, it’s time to introduce your source of drama. To continue with the metaphor, your Black Demon is searching through the forming lands, sewing the seeds of evil and nurturing those he finds already prepared. Anywhere you find people, there are going to be bad people: that’s extremely simple to figure out.

    Sometimes bad people come to power. Everyone has their Hitlers and Stalins, their Jack the Rippers and BTKs, and of course your world will have a few. Such people are what the little fellow is looking for. Imagine Jack the Ripper, but with magical upgrades. Imagine Hitler, but with a deal with whatever dark power is present in your setting giving his regime a boost. Suddenly, we have more conflict than the norm, and our bad guys become exponentially more dangerous.

    Sometimes though, they don’t come to power. These people the Demon nudges: the racist florist actually starts up a chapter of the KKK equivalent, your sadistic teacher moves to admin and runs the schoolboard before becoming a city council member.

    There are still plenty of good people, but the bad ones are suddenly much more potent. There aren’t any more of them than in real life, but they got a jump up. This must be done in a way plausible for the setting: Black magic and Dark Deals make doing this in a fantasy setting a cakewalk, in others try to be creative yet remain plausible within the internal logic of the setting.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)19:20 No.13153526
    The Villains
    Now whom do you have standing at the top of your various hierarchies of bad guys? People have always done wicked things for a variety of reasons: greed, ambition, lust, vengeance, insanity, misanthropy, and many more. Your villains should be motivated by at least one of the classics. Villains without a motivation should pull the Joker card: like the Batman villain they are doing what they do just for shits and giggles. I recommend pulling the Joker card no more than once per setting, unless you are aiming for your setting to be /b/ in the form of high fantasy/sci fi. This is a tricky set up, and not recommended for beginners.

    Use What’s There
    Social unrest or lawlessness? The villain takes advantage, and thus doesn’t need a direct boost from the Black Demon, save for the existing unrest and lawlessness. Geography facilitates banditry by being easy to hide in by guerilla forces? Write up that evil bandit leader! Black magic isn’t the only solution my friends, and it comes across as cheap if it is. Giving your villains something to work with like a condition or a natural resource is much more clever.

    From the View of Good: The Black Demon Tags Out
    In many worlds, things can be hard. In a world where our Black Demon is giving the villains a chance to make things harder, the good guys are in a slight predicament. Dealing with the world’s Hitlers and Jack the Rippers would be hard enough if they weren’t given a leg up. In these desperate times, what should the forces of Good do? This is when the Black Demon ceases to apply, and the Grey Demon steps in.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)19:21 No.13153537
    Now I pause.. to eat dinner! The rest on the way.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)19:28 No.13153614
    You have piqued my interest, OP. Keeping an eye on this.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)19:30 No.13153634
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    dude, how bout you do "how not to come over like a pompous asshole aspie without friends hidin' in his basement who acts like a big man on 4chan cos he's got noone else to talk to"?
    maybe i'll read that...
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)19:33 No.13153656

    Someone just realized his grimdark setting is shit.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)19:34 No.13153662

    Because sadly there is no hope for you.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)19:47 No.13153813
    Continue, OP.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)19:52 No.13153887
    Black and Grey: Differences and Similarities

    I mentioned before that you should not mistake one of these guys for the other, even though in many campaigns they are blended together, and are often blended together for shorthand. Doing so will come across as both unnatural and bad storytelling, but there’s quite a bit to it.

    Let’s start with the similarities and work from there. Both of these two metaphorical demons exist to create conflict within the setting. The role of both is that of facilitator. The Black Demon exists to facilitate evil deeds done by evil people. It makes the trains run on time, writes up the contracts in blood, and creates a distraction while the bad guys get organized. The Grey Demon is also a facilitator: it lets the good guys win more.

    Yes, that’s right, I said win more. It should be possible for the good guys to win in your setting, but it will be a hard won victory. That is, without paying the Grey Demon’s price. The Grey Demon is distinct from the Black in that it doesn’t use the same strategies. This is only natural: the Black deals with baby kicking, puppy-eating nut bags, while the Grey Demon has to at least look somewhat legitimate. Don’t let him fool you: he’s a very bad fellow.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)20:02 No.13154017
    The Grey Demon Enters

    Now, not every bad guy is playing for team evil. There’s the inspector who would like to be the Inquisitor, the mercenary group who do shady things when their employer isn’t looking, the informant who is willing to give you the information and connections you need if you would but look aside from his personal habits. These are the baubles and guises of the Grey Demon, and what he uses to get his foot in the door.

    The First Step is Ignoring the Problem
    The Grey Demon’s first question isn’t “Can I have your soul?” The proper question is “May I?” Will you allow the bureaucrat taking kick backs to continue because he is central to support for key policies? Will you allow the sadist in your unit to stay armed and active, because let’s face it: you’re undermanned as it is. Do you tolerate the members of the revolution who get their funds by selling heroin in the neighborhood you grew up in? You don’t have to actively say yes: simply do not object. After all, your time is best spent upon a much worse enemy, right? All of the Grey Demon’s gifts and guises are useful, even with the price tag that comes with them.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)20:06 No.13154070
    Use The Dark Side!

    In the face of evil, and with plenty of unsavory characters on the side of good, the good guys may find themselves in a situation where they are tempted to do some things that are shady in order to get the job done. In some instances this represents a chance to succeed at a price, but in others it represents an opportunity… to screw yourself for no reason! Allow me to highlight the differences for you and explain how to insert them into the campaign.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)20:19 No.13154240
    “The Gloves Come Off!” Translation: The Good Guys Do Something Utterly Stupid Because They Want to Be Badass.

    Now, in a minute I’ll talk about the paths to power the Grey Demon is happy to offer you a roadmap to, but first let’s talk about the false paths.

    First of all, whenever a professional, any professional, takes up his craft, it generally is in the most effective way possible. Moral concerns may be a barrier to entry in certain respects of a discipline way back in history, but there are enough amoral or immoral people in the world to push the craft itself past these barriers to explore the places on the other side. Often, unlike the grass on the other side of the fence, the places on the other side of the fence are barren fields of pointlessness, and the profession moves beyond the question of whether or not to cross the line: the answer is no because crossing the line is a subpar solution compared to something else they could have done that either doesn’t cross the line or is simply in a grey area.

    Whenever the good guys talk about taking the glove off and “getting serious”, they often stoop to shenanigans that are either counterproductive or a waste of time altogether.

    In short: the good guys have taken an option that is less effective, morally dubious, and alienating to their allies, antagonizing of neutral parties, and enraging to the enemy.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)20:36 No.13154457
    The Real Dark Side

    Doing something shady can, in fact, put you at an advantage. The Grey Demon likes to help the Good Guys win. Usually there is no hidden price tag: the price is plainly stated. Odds are the person paying the toll pretends like it either isn’t such a price or they pretend like they aren’t paying it. They are though.

    These roads can take many forms. The mercenary band you need to hire to shore up your offense. Sure, they’d be working for the enemy if you hadn’t hired them, and when you aren’t looking they might be looting and pillaging, but you do need them. After all, if you didn’t have the extra manpower then you wouldn’t be able to make a three pronged attack: you would have to take your objectives one or two at a time, giving the enemy time to respond. You know that demagogue speaking out against you in your ally’s camp? He hasn’t done anything illegal or antagonistic, but it would be so easy to frame him, and the opportunity just kind of fell into your lap. You know that obstructive bureaucrat cutting off your funds? You have a camera handy, and he appears to be out with his mistress enjoying a quiet dinner: a quick blackmail shot wouldn’t be out of the question.

    This is how the Grey Demon operates: you have an edge, and it doesn’t lead directly to puppy kicking evil. Following the path of the Grey Demon does not lead to atrocity or puppy kicking directly, because that is a stupid notion kicked around in games so often it has become an endemic problem. Only when you have crossed the Threshold does Black Demon logic apply, and you don’t have to cross the threshold ever: many villains do not.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)20:39 No.13154501
    Speaking of villains,


    Handbook of tips on designing NPCs. It was written with D20 in mind, but the tips can be applied to any game.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)20:47 No.13154588
    I like.

    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)20:49 No.13154613
    The Demons Have Come, So What Now?

    Well, now we get into the nitty gritty of running the setting. Some big issues many DMs face, and I’ll try to answer them now.

    I mentioned it earlier. What happens when you follow the road map given by the Grey Demon all the way? It is possible that you have done so many mental gymnastics to justify your actions that you not only have an Olympic Gold in the event but also may be capable of justifying anything to yourself: normally when you would realize a whim or impulse conflicts with your beliefs you may be capable of the fantastic leaps of logic necessary to believe it’s okay. You might be consumed with vengeance; it’s good to go with the classics sometimes. Occasionally there really are people who get drunk on the dark side, they do like kicking puppies, and absolute power does really work like in the movies for them. Like the Joker card, I recommend only playing it once though.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)20:51 No.13154633
    In the end, however, you are on the the other side of the line: welcome to the deep in. Please allow Black Demon logic to kick in for the character, as by now it is quite justified. If you took the offer but haven't crossed this line, it doesn't mean the Grey Demon failed, it just means you were interesting enough to keep playing with.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)21:02 No.13154781
    Playing the Paladin: Fall or Die (Not!)

    The character in question does not, in fact, have to be a Paladin. He simply has to be a character so idealistic that he wishes to take on the challenges of the setting without taking up the Grey Demon’s offer. Don’t make a mistake now, for you have come so far. Whenever most DMs run into such a character they engineer a situation in which the Idealist or Paladin must fall from grace and be morally grey just like everyone else. This is bad storytelling. Stories of falling from grace have the potential to be epic, and stories of struggling to be a just man in an unjust world are very potent. This pitfall is baited by the notion that the purpose of the setting is to be grimdark. This is not the case. The setting was set up to be a canvas upon which you can paint a story with moral depth outside of black and white monochrome. Having a streak of white on a canvas of grey and black just adds starker contrast and more vivid painting.

    Do not, I repeat, do not throw railroad in Fall or Die scenarios. If you must present the option, present it as “Fall and Win More”, or “Fall and Win”. If your idealist bites off more than he can chew, offer him the chance to Fall in order to come out victorious. Pyrrhic victory got you down? Just bend your ideals a little and you can have your cake and eat it.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)21:03 No.13154797
    That's all I have written so far. Questions, thoughts, discussion?
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)21:07 No.13154842
    So far so awesome, and I definitely want to see more written on this subject. Perhaps you could give specific and general examples of what you mean in practice?
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)21:07 No.13154846

    The guy who draws Order of the Stick wrote instructions for creating villains too I believe.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)21:09 No.13154868
    Good advice. I especially liked your perspective on "lol, paladin falls" situations. It is a much more interesting choice when it's not being forced on the character-- when they choose to make the ends justify the means.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)21:13 No.13154921
    Someone please archive this shit
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)21:17 No.13154975
    I have been looking for that PDF for a while now, thanks man!
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)21:23 No.13155068

    Sure thing. Let's build ourselves a setting based on this principle.

    Let's start with general principles.

    Environment: The city state Arish is a trading center. The local harbor is a port that allows the inland areas to ship high quality metal and lumber around the mountains to trade for food produced in the plains to the South, and the city itself enjoys great wealth because of this. Let's say the climate is Temperate Forest, except for the coastal areas.

    Magic: Low to middle. Magic is there, but it's not common and only the really talented people are capable of using it for big things. Hedge Wizards and wise women can work low level magic like blessings and auguries in back alleys and mysterious shops, but it takes a powerful sorcerer or court magician to really get the spells flowing.

    Tech Level: Iron age. There have been a few clever innovations in the mining and logging industries, and the southern city states are rather clever when it comes to irrigation and farming. Arish itself is an innovator in Shipwrighting, allowing it to maintain it's monopoly on trade in the area.

    So, we have Arish by the sea to the East, mountains to the South trailing off SouthWestward, thick forest and hills to the West, while the North is in the rainshadow of the mountains and becomes barren scrubland, eventually turning to tundra.

    Next come the demons.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)21:48 No.13155369
    The Black Demon has come to visit the area around Arish. Now, where shall he go? Let's inspire a few people on the borderline to villainy, shall we?

    The Warlock: Ah, found one. The failed apprentice of one of the wizards on the city's White Council. Poor guy, he had talent, but he didn't know how to step carefully in the political realm. You offend the wrong family and you are tossed from your apprenticeship like a used up cigarette. In sweeps the Black Demon! He leaves, heading North, and finds a castle. Within the ruins of the castle are a Tome of Black Magic and the ghost of it's author. After a summoning rite and the signing of a contract in blood he is as strong as his old masters ever were. He has a new tutor now, and he will show the White Council who is boss. His boosted power skews the magic curve in his favor.

    Keen Eyed Tom: There have always been bandits around the Arish, but in the crackdown on unsanctioned magic prompted by The Warlock's emergence a lot of people who never would have otherwise been interested were pushed into a life of crime. Tom is such a person. Tom's band hides in the woods to the West, and he has an uncanny ability to sense and evade pursuers while picking out caravans. His secret? A connection with his hunting hawk based upon his hedge magic, allowing him an eye in the sky in a world where such things are uncommon. Tom is a spiteful young man who wants nothing more than to make the people who he believes have persecuted him pay. He preys mercilessly on any caravan he can hit on its way in or out of the city, and he leaves few if any survivors in his raids. Tom is a dangerous opportunist and a physical threat. His animal companion provides him with a leg up in the form of intel.

    Next, the Black Demon finds a real villain or two to give a leg up.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)21:55 No.13155467
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    Excellent thread
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)22:01 No.13155547
    Now for the serious villains who get a leg up.

    Warlord Kelzin: Kelzin is the chief of the tribes who live up in the mountains above the area. Kelzin came to power by first murdering his brothers and rival heirs, which was not unusual among his tribe, and then slaying his father, which was in fact highly irregular. Kelzin is a murderer and a rapist who would, without the interference of the Black Demon, simply have been a limited threat just over the horizon. However, fate conspired to see him acquire a shipment of fine steel arms and with the valley in turmoil he has decided the time has come to take the lowlanders' into the fold. He first conquered the other mountain tribes, and he is preparing to bring his forces down to take the city. Things did not go well for the tribes he absorbed, and they will go even worse for the cityfolk should he take over.

    Lord Lark: The local chief of Police, Lord Lark is a Sadist who has found himself handed a greater amount of power and free reign than he ever dreamed possible during the crisis. He has promptly started using it to settle old scars, act on his debauched whims, and generally make a mess of things within the city. Lord Lark's secret police carry people away in the night who said the wrong thing during the day, or just looked at one of his officers wrong. If the city weren't going to fall from without soon, it would fall from within at his hand. As it stands so long as he remains in power the city will be too weakened and demoralized to oppose Kelzin in the South and The Warlock to the North. He will remain in power for the foreseeable future because a frightened king and upper class have given him free reign to do as he will.

    Next, our Grey Demon tags in.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:11 No.13155661
    While this thread is open, I would actually like to ask the opinion of /tg/ and or OP.

    Basically I'm working on a setting currently. While I didn't start it with the intention of being grimdark, it's wound up pretty grim and pretty dark. It's basically world war 2, fantasy edition.

    My problem is however that there's a lot of tension and hatred between nationalities, to the point where if you end up being a human in elven territory or an elf in anyone else's territory the guards'll probably kill you before a lynch mob has time to grow big enough to do it themselves. Factions are both racial and ideological and the ideologies are pretty hard and usually pretty racist too.

    It concerns me that this doesn't make for a totally great RP setting seeing as it largely restricts the freedom of a party ("I want to play a dwarf" "Well you can't, that player's an elf, one of you is gonna wind up killed.")

    Is there a good way to keep this racial tension (As it's fundamental in the setting) without restricting my players? Or do I basically have to restrict PCs to one race?
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)22:14 No.13155692
    The Grey Demon decides to even the playing field, so he offers our heroes some allies.

    Anzin: There is one man every criminal within the city knows not to cross. He runs the only crime syndicate in Arish because he killed off all of the competition a while back in a brutal turf war. His name is Anzin. Any official who opposes Anzin are crushed. Should they fail to take a bribe or cave to blackmail their sons are driven to suicide by inexplicable tragedies and their daughters are hooked on Lasej and pimped out to wealthy clients. Anzin doesn't just defeat his enemies, he destroys them. However, being a patriot he is willing to share with the Heroes his underground network to plot resistance against Lord Lark, and he is willing to push to unify the city afterward, provided certain capitulations are made....

    Heiland's Band: a particularly rapacious and bloodthirsty group of cutthroats have just been put on death row. However, they have offered their own plea bargain: in exchange for clemency for their crimes they are offering to use their knowledge of the local hideouts and woodlands to help capture Keen Eyed Tom and assist in planning the defense of Arish against Kelzin's horde. All you have to do is let them go free, and they want it in writing.

    The Jocastan: A tribe of cannibalistic monsters that haunt the scrubland to the North. They have committed atrocities against both the people living in hamlets to the North and travelers from Arish in the past, but they have a superstitious fear of The Warlock and an ancestral fear of his castle. If you would supply them with weapons, they could keep The Warlock and his Hellspawn hemmed in or slowed down while you deal with Kelzin's horde, but they probably won't be keen on giving them back after they are done with them.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:15 No.13155711
    welcome to the archive
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)22:19 No.13155739

    You could always have them be members of an underground or set them up in something like neutral Switzerland or Casablanca. Maybe the intelligence agents of every power are active in a cosmopolitan city outside of the area itself, and that makes the actions of the PCs relevant while putting them outside of the racially sticky area.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:20 No.13155752

    Those are some good ones. Thanks OP.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:21 No.13155760
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    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)22:31 No.13155893
    Thank you, glad to have helped.

    So, that's about all I had to throw in... general campaign morality thread now?
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:34 No.13155931
    How about specific example of Grey Demon/Black Demon antagonists, Grey Demon temptations for your players, personal anecdotes about your own rpg settings/experiences.

    In other words, MOAR
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:47 No.13156057
    I've found in a lot of campaigns with a slightly evil bent, your players very quickly become genre-savvy, expecting any 'allies' you make to backstab them due to DM fiat. Making allies with the intent to backstab is a really, really bad idea and a poor narrative device. Your NPCs should always have their own motives and desires, and they should only undermine the PCs when those motives and desires clash.

    I've found it very helpful to create allies who, while 'evil', have no reason or interest in backstabbing or creating conflict with the main characters, and will actively seek to reconcile disagreements. Instead, any conflict that arises will come player action, not NPC action. For example, create a serial killer ally who works with the PCs because they provide such delicious opportunity for violence (or maybe he thinks the world is corrupt and the only way to heal it is to 'cut the bad out', so to speak). He is open with the PCs, listens to their opinions and never attempts to backstab them. However, his deeds become more and more horribly gruesome and violent as the story progresses. Do the players let him do what he wants (making them slip ever closer to the grey demon)? Turn him in to the authorities? Or kill/restrain him? If they do betray him, you as the DM get to taste delicious irony as your NPC, for a moment, gets to feel genre-savvy. 'I knew I never should've trusted you in the first place. Everyone is just as false as the next in this town'.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)22:48 No.13156063
    Personal anecdotes? Well, I've always been partial to tragedies. I've done a few campaigns where the players fell under the category of Grey or Black Demon influenced, so long as they were reasonable and played it consistently with the characters chosen. I.E. not a herp derp evil campaign.

    I've played a tragedy where the PCs are members of a righteous rebellion against an oppressive state in the style of the French Revolution with themselves as Napoleon/Robespierre stand ins, kicking off something like the Napoleonic Wars as the monarchies tried to put them down. High magic, former regime was solidly Black Demon, lots of Grey Demon options. That was lots of fun.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:50 No.13156082
    Oh well, guess I'll throw in a grimdark campaign setting I was working on then.

    Players can only be humans, mainly because the elves and dwarves are as overpowered compared to humans as you'd expect from a race with several hundred years more experience (thinking of actually developing a downtime experience chart of some sort). Anyway, humanity lives in the rather crappy areas of the world, not because they've been forced there or anything, it's just that the elves, dwarves and giants own most of the world because they got civilized first, back when humanity was still banging rocks together. In general though, humanity has a fairly peaceful relationship with the other races, there are some little sparks of conflict, but nothing major, and the other races in general tend to regard humanity as a rather retarded little sibling. Of course the other races do have some slight concerns with humanity, like their penchant for death magics, which none of the other races can learn, but on the other hand humans can't learn any other kind of magic, so most experts simply put it down to humans being more tied in to the forces of death than the immortal races. Before, necromancy was just something of a background thing, some humans practiced it, certain parts of it (like reanimating undead hordes) was considered distasteful, and their culture developed a great deal of respect for the dead. All sounds fairly okay so far, right...

    (one more part)
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)22:50 No.13156084

    Genre savvy players are always fun to mess with by playing against type. I've always hated the default assumption of evil=betray the PCs at the first opportunity. Well done.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:52 No.13156098

    Here's the problem. Humans were the first race, the reason the other races developed faster is because the gods crafted the other races to do so. There are no human gods, per say, but there are ancient gods of the elements and whatnot who are patrons to the elves, dwarves and giants. Elven, dwarven and giant souls are made by the gods stealing the souls of dead humans drifting in the void and forging them (in an incredibly painful and horrific process) into the souls of other races. Humans in general don't know this, but then again apart from small groups, neither do any of the other races. Until recently no humans knew this, but now the power players have realised that all they have to look forward to after death is being tortured and stripped of their being until they become the soul of another race.

    The answer: necromancy goes into overload. Suddenly humanity is pushing necromancy for all its worth, the souls of the dead are not allowed to pass on to the abyss, they're stored in magical containers or bound to grave sites or in some cases forged into magic items. A lot of the moral guildlines that were placed for necromancy are starting to erode in the quest to become more powerful, because those in power know that if it comes down to it, and the other races realise that no human souls passing on means no new children for their races, it could cause a war, and humanity would lose.

    (okay, this time only one more part, for sure)
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:54 No.13156119
    The groups within the other races also don't want to spill how they came to be, because in general elves, dwarves and giants are not evil people, and most would be horrified to discover what they truly were, and it could shatter their civilization completely. So most of what happens is very much in the shadows, with agents of humanity, most of whom don't understand exactly what they're fighting for, trying to stop non-human groups and their minions from undermining human society, stealing bound souls, and ensuring a constant stream of death to keep the souls flowing. Meanwhile most are also having to contend with an influx of necromancers who have suddenly realised that the government is willing to forgive a lot of dodgy activities as long as they prove they're forwarding necromantic research in the process. Apart from certain evil individuals, none of the races are bad, they've just been forced into a situation by the gods where in the end it's going to come down to dooming three races or accepting that the souls of humanity will forever be tortured and reforged into those of other races.

    Haven't decided on specific villains as of yet, but I think there's plenty of room for the Black Demon and the Grey Demon within humanity and the other races given the setting.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:57 No.13156144
    Hmm, think I might have missed out a bit somewhere in between those two what with all the cutting and pasting, still it seems to make sense, and I can't think what I missed.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)22:59 No.13156166
    It doesn't seem like anything's missing to me.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:04 No.13156224
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    >Questions, thoughts, discussion?

    I didn't get this part.
    >First of all, whenever a professional, any professional, takes up his craft, it generally is in the most effective way possible. Moral concerns may be a barrier to entry in certain respects of a discipline way back in history, but there are enough amoral or immoral people in the world to push the craft itself past these barriers to explore the places on the other side. Often, unlike the grass on the other side of the fence, the places on the other side of the fence are barren fields of pointlessness, and the profession moves beyond the question of whether or not to cross the line: the answer is no because crossing the line is a subpar solution compared to something else they could have done that either doesn’t cross the line or is simply in a grey area.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:13 No.13156324
    It's easier and more productive to do things within the moral boundaries of society-- or in a moral grey area-- than it is to completely step outside the bounds.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)23:18 No.13156359
    Cool setting, a different take on necromancy than what's typical.


    I'm happy to answer. Let's say I'm a soldier. I'm hunting down enemies who are hiding out amongst the local population. When I go in after these people I have a modus operandi: my squad and I slip in, we wait and take careful aim, and gun down the enemy quietly and all at once, avoiding civilian casualties. During the fighting one day one of my friends get killed. So, I decide I'm going to "get serious" and to hell with keeping my hands tied. I decide to shoot with a heavier caliber weapon than needed, firing rounds with considerably less discrimination than I had previously, and going after the enemy at less ideal times, when they aren't as clustered together or when they are out in public. Our attacks are less effective because they allow for more resistance, I kill more civilians than I otherwise would have by accident, and I look like a dick while doing it, but I justify it to myself because I'm pissed.

    Simpler example: torture. Doesn't get reliable data. There are ways of using torture to confirm something you heavily suspect, then picking up more leads you have to then confirm in other ways, but as an intelligence option it is in every way less effective than standard interrogation. As an intelligence option it offers very little bang for your buck, and the opportunity cost of standard interrogation and using your resources in other ways puts you at a net loss. It goes against the standards and stated ethics of most western democracies. It alienates allies and radicalizes enemies.

    In short it's subpar intelligence gathering compared to what's usually used, goes against our ethics, and when people find out our allies get upset. People support it because they have the impression that it's "tough" and that it makes us more secure, when in reality it isn't as effective as the techniques normally used to gather intelligence.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:24 No.13156412
    Good lord, what a spiel. My hat is off sir, this is tops.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:27 No.13156431
    I can't believe you faggots archived this ridiculous bullshit.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:28 No.13156441

    We did.
    It's in the archives.
    u mad?
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:28 No.13156443

    Haha you must like Grimderp settings.
    >> John Galt 12/14/10(Tue)23:28 No.13156444
    And I can't believe it's not butter.
    >> Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)23:31 No.13156470

    If you have object to or disagree with anything I have written, I invite you to express them in an articulate manner instead of sageing while writing passive aggressive complaints that lack any substance, and I'll be happy to discuss it with you. I presume you lack the ability to make an articulate complaint that doesn't sound rather foolish, hence the passive aggressive sageing and non specific whining.
    >> Mustachioed Villain !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)23:32 No.13156486
    Or you can choose not to!
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:34 No.13156509
    John, what the fuck happened to that horror thread when you were giving all that excellent advice to the newbie Op?

    You had some good shit. If its not archived I'd suggest re posting it.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:35 No.13156520
    can I steal that necromancy thing for a campaign because that is awesome.

    why am i asking im doing it anyway
    >> Grammer Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)23:37 No.13156544

    *objection to
    Gah my spelling.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:38 No.13156566
    Go for it, I mean if you were suffering any second thoughts about using it anyway, which you're probably not...
    >> John Galt 12/14/10(Tue)23:41 No.13156592
    I didn't save it, sad to say. I actually went looking for it later to screencap those bricks of text for posterity, but I guess it must've 404'd while I was out for the day.
    Damn shame. Hope that kid's doing alright.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:46 No.13156632
    Goddamn it.

    Oh well. Should have been archived.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:48 No.13156645
    I had a quick question. A fairly popular nation idea is the "Good-aligned Theocracy," usually a nation run by paladins or clerics. How should such a nation act in a setting like this? Would they be fanatical "Damn the consequences" idealists? Or would they lock themselves inside their borders and hide from the world.
    >> Anonymous 12/14/10(Tue)23:53 No.13156685
    Maybe a small, struggling nation that forgoes the help of any Grey Demon or Black Demon choices, and is slowly dying because of it.

    They're the streak of white, but they can't get anything done because of it.

    Of course, there's still plenty of room for corruption as well.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/14/10(Tue)23:53 No.13156688

    Depends largely upon the setting and the nature of the antagonists. Could be purity sues, could be extremists, could be insular. Depends on your antagonists and everything.
    >> No Man 12/14/10(Tue)23:59 No.13156729
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    ...I should put my two cents in.

    Start describing agents of Good in a horrific manner. They, in a bid to become more powerful WITHOUT sacrificing others, have sacrificed themselves, or were pants-shittingly scary to start with.

    Cases in point:

    1. Old-testament style angels. I know /tg/ gushes over them, but that's because they give Lovecraft a run for his money. Pic related, is a cherub. Also, it's worth the looks on the PCs' faces when they get a healing, buff, a pat on the head, and a 'keep up the good work' from something with more than one face.

    2. 'Good' liches. They've spurned eternal reward in favor of eternal service. They do not, however, get the Jesus treatment: whereas evil liches are withered skeletons who sacrificed babies for eternal undeath, the sacrifice of the good lich was their own life, and it SHOWS. They look less like skeletons and more like zombies, and none but the initiated know the significance of this.

    Though the generally falls under the heading of 'give goblins a palette swap.'
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:00 No.13156736
    Alright, that's about what I had figured. The basic idea I had was that it's ruled by a triumvirate of the "popes" of three religions. One wants to go out and convert people and "save" them from themselves, one thinks the rest of the world is too corrupted and needs to be burned and start over, and one thinks that they should just ignore the outside world. I think a decent amount of "Grey Demon" choices could be done in manipulating the politics of their government.

    Their primary antagonist is a benevolent dictatorship fueled by necromancy. All of the living (and sentient undead) have a very high quality of life and do not do physical labor (that's what the mindless drudges are for). When you die, if you haven't contributed something good/great to the country, you're resurrected as a drudge. If you accomplish something worthwhile, you are allowed to become a lich or similar. There's a decent amount of politicking between the lich overlords, but with some ground rules about your enemy's phylactery and little fear of death, these arguments rarely escalate beyond one of them "dying" for a few days.
    >> Owly 12/15/10(Wed)00:00 No.13156737
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    Good thread, The Antagonist. It's good to see gamers discussing the Art of Storytelling itself. It's a nice departure from the usual, and something that deserves discussion.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)00:04 No.13156780
    I like this.

    I like this as well.
    This is cool too, and makes a good campaign setting.
    Thank you.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:11 No.13156840
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    Here's an idea: Make being "good" hard or excessively dangerous.
    Take for example the following situation: You've got to go to the top of a two hundred floor tower to kill the BBEG. At the bottom of the tower, is the door to the stairs, but in this room is a sacrificial circle with an old woman or a child.

    You kill the child, you get ported up to the demon.
    You kill the old woman, you get ported halfway.
    You open the door, and you have to fight one hundred and ninety nine floors of other demons. Bring on dem healing potions. Hard labour and not cost effective for the party.
    Or the case of Keldorn Firecam, who has to divorce his wife in order to continue being a Paladin, or settle down with her and stop fighting evil. Sacrifice.

    Make being evil the temptation. It's easy to be evil, and hard to be good, but doing good is good for the whole.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:13 No.13156855
    In the theocracy, every so often one of the popes gets enough power to make major policy decisions with regard to the outside world. When the Aggressive pope gets the power, he almost immediately launches a crusade into the undead nation. Many die and are reanimated, then they get pushed back.

    When the Conversion pope gets the power, he dispatches emissaries and priests to nearby nations to preach the good word. They are generally ignored, might convert a few people, or might get killed, depending on how soon the most recent crusade was.

    When the Xenophobe pope gets into power, he basically just orders the wall that separates the nation from the others to be thickened and repaired.

    Because he sees the most success, the Conversion order is usually the most popular one. The aggression order is usually second, because while they may not have huge amounts of success in their crusades, it's better than doing nothing. The xenophobia order is the least popular because their doctrine isn't easy to get behind. Despite this fact, the general quality of life in the nation is best during the reign of the xenophobia pope, as with less attention on the outside, more issues within the theocracy are fixed.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:14 No.13156866
    For extra points, you can also teleport someone else up to the top of the tower by sacrificing yourself.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:16 No.13156883
    I was thinking about the sole protagonist, but in the case of D&D, I would allow for party-wide temporary hit points, damage reduction and relevant elemental resistance for the "loving" sacrifice of a friend who willingly gives their lives.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)00:29 No.13156993

    Pope Bloodthirsty IX?
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:31 No.13157009
    Basically the general essence I'm getting from this thread is:

    To make a dark setting, it has to be easy to do terrible things, and difficult, expensive, and requiring immense amounts of self-sacrifice to avoid any of the evil things.

    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:31 No.13157014
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    Pretty much. Here is an artist's depiction of their deity.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:34 No.13157032
    more like the accomplishment of good often requires compromise with evil
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)00:37 No.13157067

    Not really. If you want a setting darker than what is normal Good operates as is standard, the bad guys get a bump plausible within the setting, and there are plausible opportunities to sell out in order to get things done.

    The result: lots of bad guys who have a plausible in setting reason for being dangerous, morally grey characters who are that way for a reason who aren't necessarily evil, and good characters who can struggle through regardless. No one says you have to play stupid good.

    All of this is predicated on wanting a dark setting though.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:39 No.13157076
    I would say it's less effective to do the good things. You CAN get the job done without making any "deals with the devil," but they may not stick, and they may blow up in your face. If you compromise on your morals a little, you can get more lasting results.

    As an example (in a fantasy setting), the local Baron is extremely corrupt and has exorbitant taxes on the peasants, of which he skims the excess for himself. You can deal with him in one of several ways:

    ("good" choice)
    1. You report him to the king. The king may ignore you or may let his good friend, the baron, know that someone is trying to undermine him.
    ("Grey" choices)
    1. You blackmail him into extorting less from the peasants. As long as you hold the evidence he doesn't want people to see, it will stick.
    2. You tell the king that he's been holding back on his taxes to the crown. The king comes down hard on him, and he gets replaced with someone a bit more loyal. However, you didn't really address the problem at it's base.

    Basically, the most effective options will likely have some sort of moral trade-off that the PCs will have to choose. If they try to rise above, they may have everything turn out fine, or they may see all their hard work undone the moment they cross the border out of the country. It's less "good vs. evil" and more "idealism vs. pragmatism"
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)00:42 No.13157108

    What I was looking for, yes.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:47 No.13157152
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    Hey, Necromancy Campaign Setting guy.

    1. What happens to the souls of dead elves, dwarves and giants?

    2. Can't someone (the PCs?) maybe try to work out some sort of deal with one of those ancient gods to take in the human souls, so the necromancer don't have to be bottling them all up?
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)00:49 No.13157164
    Wasn't the Babylon five series about the black demon (shadows) and grey demons (Vorlons).

    Both were two opposing ideas. The shadows about strength thought survival of the fittest. The Vorlons about strength thought rules and order.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:05 No.13157290
    I still like my idea of good simply being harder better. Make evil the temptation, and good the virtue to strive to. Show figures that try to be good or to spread it. Show figures that spread evil. Show the PCs that they could take the easy way out and get their cookie for being evil.

    And give the PCs reason to be good. Show them the ravaged villages that occour when evil populates the world. Show them beggar children skewered on pikes. And when the PCs turn their nose in disgust, ask "So what are you going to do about it?"
    Instant Paladin.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:11 No.13157335
    1. the souls of dead elves, dwarves and giants simply fade away, already tortured and damaged as they are by the reforging, hence the need for a constant supply of new souls to forge new elves, dwarves and giants.

    2. Supposing that the PCs could convince ancient, brutal and utterly inhuman gods which consider humanity to be little more than tools that they should spend their time safeguarding human souls, it is in theory possible. Of course, the sheer manipulative finesse and cunning needed to pull off such an agreement and hold the god to it would be nothing short of...well...godly. Not saying it's impossible, and if players concluded that that's what they wanted to do I'd certainly go with it, it just wouldn't be any easier than any other option to resolve the situation.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:12 No.13157346
    Pretty much. But one could argue the Vorlons are just as bad, just not as savage about it.
    >> DatFrigginGoomba !ikPvLvYZGU 12/15/10(Wed)01:14 No.13157359
    I think that loses the spirit of what OP was trying to make apparent.
    Giving players are reason to be straight do-gooders isn't the goal, it's to present a setting where doing the "right" thing may not be the best or most effective thing, or may even make the situation worse, as it sometimes ends up being irl.
    Make being a straight edge good guy an OPTION, a choice, but a choice that is entirely up to the player, and not encouraged by the DM. Most games fall under that default good guy ideal, and this is about turning that on it's head.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:15 No.13157377

    Yeah, it's more like the Vorlons were the Lawful Stupid smite everything that doesn't play by the RUUUURS types, and the Shadows were viciously Darwinistic, and they definitely disagreed on how to help lesser races develop. Of course, they were just as interested in fucking with each other as they were in that end goal, ultimately.

    Also, I should add that Ivanova was moe as fuck.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:16 No.13157388

    Yeah, it was more a lawful/chaotic thing if you're going to talk about it in alignment-ish terms.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:21 No.13157414
    But then you end up with a setting like world of darkness, with no clear good guys and no way to be clearly good. That isn't a moral quandary, that's a moral trick question. When your choices are to be a total dick or be less of a dick, but still a dick, you're still a dick.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:22 No.13157428

    Not be a dick is a choice. Being a slight dick is too. Being a total dick is also a choice. Up to the players, and each have incentives behind them.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:24 No.13157439
    Well, I did present the option of not being a dick, but make that harder. Thus the temptation of sloth and "it's easier to be evil" comes to play. It takes effort and sacrifice to be good. Hard work, too. But you can get shit done by being a total dick about it much easier.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:46 No.13157618

    A friend of mine once did point out that good/evil conflict was usually boring but lawful/chaotic was where the conflict is.

    Also the lawful/chaotic gives a good reason for black vs grey.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:54 No.13157678
    Your first paragraph turned me instantly against you, because of your superior attitude and insufferable self-importance. If you want to teach people, teach them - don't turn your nose up and tell them "well alright i guess i could let you in on some of my genius"

    Lesson One:
    You automatically assume that the "good guys" are the players - which is silly, as some might want to play an evil campaign. Furthermore, the 'black demon' you mention is connected with evil itself - unambiguous and unhindered by morality. This point here is your arguement's undoing.

    Allow me to explain (do you see how taking the time to tell my audience that I will bless them with my grand intellect is both patronizing and alienating towards them? It is unneccesary and furthermore undermines any sceptics; ie those that can think critically.)
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)01:55 No.13157694
    All decisions are based on two things: idealism and profit margins. So, having a two dimensional Black Demon works only so far as the actions, not the causes or even the consequences, are considered. That is to say, using your example later in the thread, a warlock who seeks revenge after being unfairly hunted/shunned/whatever is not black, but gray - because of his experiences. Distinguishing him from the crime-lord who is willing to work with our heroes simply because he is an antagonist (not the only nor the worst, apparently) would be folly from a story perspective as well as an objective perspective.

    The party should decide, beforehand or during the action, what their objectives are - they should decide what their character's dream and purpose is. The basic format of a pen and paper RPG makes it very difficult for the Gm to do anything BUT railroad - he has to create beforehand and dictate the reality to the players. To present a setting - with premade objectives and designs - without bias is frankly impossible, thus one cannot Gm without putting some of himself in each of the heroes.

    Beginning with the notion of one overall badguy - painting him as the blackest of demons - is folly from the outset because it diminishes the impact of the gray demons - if X is our badguy, and Y is not (even though hes a pretty bad guy: note the difference), X is the enemy even if he need not be.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)02:14 No.13157809
    World building is one of my very favourite intellectual excercises. It is especially important to me to consider geo-political factors in every decision I make with regards to my world - as I aim to become a historian I need to think in this way whenever I can.

    The idea of good and evil deciding therefore, is anathema to me. If one is driven by idealism, then he is still only one! Whole nations are not driven by good intentions, but by profit and human nature - which often manifests itself as greed and confrontationalism.

    Good and evil, then, are personal concepts, not cultural ones. Culture, however, influences personal developement and thusly influences these ideas.

    To use your example, Hitler and Stalin were depraved, but certainly not beyond any before them. Powerful people have murdered before, and certainly will continue to do so. However, being powerful allows them a certain control over the culture, which means that they can influence the personal opinions of the young and eventually the adult population.

    The hitler youth was instituted in I believe 1923. By 1939 (16 years later) any youths who had been exposed to that culture had grown into the adult population. These rabid Nazis, who had been told nothing but how the Jews were the devil for their entire developement, had no other option but to believe it. Thus, the culture influences the personal, not the other way around.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)02:24 No.13157868

    Actually, I didn't assert my obvious genius until my second paragraph. Clearly you didn't read thoroughly. Actually, it's less genius and more common sense: people do morally deep settings rather poorly as a rule, and /tg/ is infamous for posting poorly thought out grimderp shit. That aside, let's continue.

    1. I did not, in fact, assume that the players would always want to be on the side of good. I used the word character quite often: that's because it applies equally to all characters, including NPCs. I assume you want NPCs that make sense and fit with the setting while making logical decisions, yes?

    >Furthermore, the 'black demon' you mention is connected with evil itself - unambiguous and unhindered by morality. This point here is your arguement's undoing.

    What in the Hell are you talking about?
    >People have always done wicked things for a variety of reasons: greed, ambition, lust, vengeance, insanity, misanthropy, and many more.

    Note the many more. People do horrible things due to ideology. If you sacrifice newborns to your God in the hopes of going to heaven it fits within your morality and ideology, sure, but you're pretty evil.

    2. >do you see how taking the time to tell my audience that I will bless them with my grand intellect is both patronizing and alienating towards them? It is unneccesary and furthermore undermines any sceptics; ie those that can think critically.

    I see that you too have a high opinion of yourself, but unlike me you apparently can't take half joking criticism very well.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)02:26 No.13157881
    To lead your players into the notion that one side is good or evil completely obviates the distinction between gray, black and white. To lead your players into morally ambiguous choices which invariably come down to "the ends justify the means" versus "the knight in shining armour" means that these gray choices will become either black or white, and those black choices are without any character drive - it forces characters into either pragmatsm or idealism without being able to choose for themselves. Because you are telling the story, you have an incredible power to skew it one way or the other - the difficulty in telling a grey story is to make it grey yourself, without letting the players know it. Giving them choices is good, and useful as a roleplaying device, but as the GM, it is your job that the story is morally ambiguous, not the characters.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)02:33 No.13157936

    2+ 1/2. Nowhere did I assert that Black characters had to be two dimensional. The example I gave of the Warlock is morally complex. Tom is slightly less so, but still a member of an oppressed group. You seem to be misunderstanding the Black/Grey divide. It's a rule of thumb when creating a setting to distinguish between unambiguous threats to society/humanity and threats that can be tolerated or embraced. Anzin, the crime boss, can easily be an antagonist, and is one hell of a nasty fellow. However, he is someone who would work with the good guys. The Warlock: not so much. One represents someone pushed over the edge, past the turning point of being able to work with the heroes.

    You seem to be tying together ideas from outside of this metaphor with the arguments I made within it. If you're doing it on purpose, that's called a straw man.

    I never said anything about requiring the PCs to have objective x or y or morality x or y. In fact, that is the point: to create a world in which characters, PC or NPC, have rational or idealistic reasons to make decisions across the morality spectrum. In fact, you seem to be arguing against things I didn't even claim.

    Humoring you though: our Black villain is Vlad the Puppy Rapist. In a realistic setting, assuming our PCs are not on the Black side themselves, would you work with or tolerate Vlad?
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)02:34 No.13157944
    >>It's easier and more productive to do things within the moral boundaries of society-- or in a moral grey area-- than it is to completely step outside the bounds.

    What about places like Mexico or Sierra Leon or Liberia which have plunged into real world grimderp? Mexico is the most interesting, because it's managed to maintain a facade of civilization, there's still tv and utilities and universities and everything else, while severed head with tongues cut out are posted in front of elementary schools.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)02:35 No.13157946
    >Actually, I didn't assert my obvious genius until my second paragraph. Clearly you didn't read thoroughly
    >How delightful. It’s not like we don’t have enough of those around already. Oh, don’t get me wrong, etc etc.
    Thats called sarcasm you retard

    You are not only patronizing, but also an idiot. I wanted to keep civil, but apparently thats not the way you do things.

    >1. I did not, in fact, assume that the players would always want to be on the side of good. I used the word character quite often: that's because it applies equally to all characters, including NPCs.

    You got me there.

    >I assume you want NPCs that make sense and fit with the setting while making logical decisions, yes?

    Yes, because it is your job to make them logical within their own minds. Thats your job, dude.

    >What in the Hell are you talking about?
    >People have always done wicked things for a variety of reasons: greed, ambition, lust, vengeance, insanity, misanthropy, and many more.

    If you would care to read, then I am talking about how "wicked" is a fucking awful concept to use as a lead in to describe a character objectively.

    >People do horrible things due to ideology. If you sacrifice newborns to your God in the hopes of going to heaven it fits within your morality and ideology, sure, but you're pretty evil.

    Wrong. People do things because 1) they will profit or 2) their ideology compels them. Ideologies themselves cannot be wicked or evil, nor can they be objectively good - these are personal opinions.
    >I see that you too have a high opinion of yourself, but unlike me you apparently can't take half joking criticism very well.

    I know idiots when I see them, and I also know assholes. You happen to be both, and I wanted to make sure everyone else knew that as well.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)02:48 No.13158065
    y u mad
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)02:50 No.13158080

    3. I do not like 2d or static characters. Note your Warlock example: he has a reason you can empathize or sympathize with for what he does. That doesn't mean blood rites, summoning the hordes of Hell, and targeting numerous innocents in between himself and his enemies is okay, but he's human. You are attacking a strawman again here.

    4. After the world building part I don't really see a coherent argument, just a series of assertions that do not clash with any of what I am saying.

    The closest thing to an argument I can discern that you are making is the idea that by classifying people as black, grey, and white I am creating an area in which... there is no room for ambiguous grey? I can only assume you half read what I wrote and filled in the rest with whatever assumptions were necessary for you to make an argument.

    5. Pragmatism vs Idealism

    This was a semi coherent argument, but you over simplified. If the PC wants to be a good guy, he can choose to either be a pragmatist or a moralist, or somewhere in between. There are room for Kantians, Utilitarians, and Virtue Ethicists all throughout this structure.

    6. Black and White
    In several places, but especially at the end, you keep asserting the notion that I am forcing the characters to view either idealism or deontology as the only solutions... what the fuck are you talking about? I'm not forcing them to pick the one I prefer, the entire system is set up the way it is so that they can choose, and hell, being static characters they can crawl up and down the spectrum.

    Your arguments thus far have attacked ideas I neither endorsed nor asserted, assumed things that have nothing to do with my assertions, and generally written some rather confusing posts. You've missed the point entirely in numerous places and argued in favor of the very things the system is facilitating.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)02:55 No.13158115
    >2+ 1/2. Nowhere did I assert that Black characters had to be two dimensional.
    He is presented as the bad guy, he cannot be interacted with except in confrontational circumstances, his own motives are thus beyond the knowledge of the protagonists, thus, he is a bad, two dimensional villain.

    >The example I gave of the Warlock is morally complex.
    How? He exists now only to create havok, only to get revenge, only to do 'evil'. There is nothing but his death at the end of this story.

    >You seem to be misunderstanding the Black/Grey divide. It's a rule of thumb when creating a setting to distinguish between unambiguous threats to society/humanity and threats that can be tolerated or embraced.

    unambiguous threats? that cannot be dealt with save for violent means? that cannot be redeemed? thats called two dimensional buddy!

    >Anzin, the crime boss, can easily be an antagonist, and is one hell of a nasty fellow. However, he is someone who would work with the good guys. The Warlock: not so much. One represents someone pushed over the edge, past the turning point of being able to work with the heroes.
    Yes. So, the only option for one is to be stopped (presumably killed) and the option for the other is to be what? Dealt with afterwards? You may choose to end the story when the warlock dies, but that will leave loose ends all over the place.

    >You seem to be tying together ideas from outside of this metaphor with the arguments I made within it. If you're doing it on purpose, that's called a straw man.
    What? You have an idea that I am attacking you simply to attack you. I'm attacking your ideas because they are silly and that''s what people do when they have ideas - submit them to peer review.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)02:59 No.13158140
    The whole thing comes down to you trying to turn evil vs lesser evil (grimdark) into good vs evil vs lesser evil, which is fine, but you calling it morally ambiguous is disingenuous and frankly injurious to the idea of moral ambiguity. Your players must decide what they want, their goals and ambitions - and play towards those.

    Your job, in a morally ambiguous setting, is to never mention good or evil at all.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)03:06 No.13158187
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    >Do not, I repeat, do not throw railroad in Fall or Die scenarios. If you must present the option, present it as “Fall and Win More”, or “Fall and Win”. If your idealist bites off more than he can chew, offer him the chance to Fall in order to come out victorious. Pyrrhic victory got you down? Just bend your ideals a little and you can have your cake and eat it.

    And how do you react when the true paladin player sticks to the side of good all the way through, never compromising his principles or letting evil go unpunished, no matter what the cost, even if it means the DM ending the campaign early?
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)03:13 No.13158230

    1. Note the double sarcasm you quoted. Who's the retard?

    2. Yes, yes I did get you.

    3. You appear to be arguing that my villains are 2d and unrelatably evil in the Black zone... then stated that yes, I have made them believable and acting along an axis of understandable human behavior? This is quarreling just because you can.

    3. It's not just objective, it's subjective, but I'll spare you the second argument. Most moral systems have horizons beyond which behaviors are not tolerable, wicked in this sense is something that falls out of what accepted morally systems deem as morally okay. Even if someone were amoral, immoral, or alien enough in their ideology to accept such a person it is hard to convince someone who would like to see you dead or enslaved to come have a spot of tea. Thus, black: they aren't going to be reasoned with. Some people can't be, like you.

    4. You are once again misquoting me and going after a strawman. You asserted that I left ideologies that conflict with the ideologies of the goodguys as a motivating factor, I asserted that it fell within possible motivating categories previously outlined. You proceeded to misinterpret that to fit into some other argument unrelated to my assertions.

    5. You came into this thread being an ass from the get-go. As far as I can tell you skimmed most of what I said and proceeded to write out a bunch of arguments formed mostly in butthurt anger that are inapplicable to the discussion at hand. I actually feel sorry for you.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)03:23 No.13158297

    1. You made a lot of assumptions here. Unknowable. 2d. More on that in further arguments, but you've just sort of flung around adjectives without making them stick.

    2. Where did I say the players couldn't imprison the guy? Break him free of the evil? Check him into magical demon crack rehab? You took an antagonist in a setting stated as morally deep, and made assumptions about how the players would approach the problem. Checking the dude into demon rehab wouldn't be out of the question, nor would a blade through the heart. Grasping at straws.

    3. I still don't get what you're trying to say. Anzin you can live with, ignore, or deal with. The Warlock: not so much. That doesn't mean you have to kill the Warlock, or even put Anzin off. Kill Anzin first, then catch the Warlock and put him into the aforementioned rehab.

    You've strayed off point by the way: we're debating examples and their merit rather than the ideas themselves.

    4. Your attacks have been addressed against arguments I did not make. This argument is also a straw man, but since you brought it up yes, I think you're butthurt and looking to tear down something that invalidates a previous work of yours.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)03:25 No.13158308

    Your job, in a morally ambiguous setting, is to give the players a canvas upon which to project and act in order to paint the picture. They need shit to work with since they don't control the NPCs.

    There is no clash to your argument, just an assertion that does not invalidate my ideas.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)03:28 No.13158325

    I respond with a Hell Yeah: my players and I just told the story of righteous people struggling through and succeeding in a world that is dead set on being unrighteous, never compromising, and winning absolute victory with their morals intact. We just told something powerful, epic, and awesome.

    You expected me to say something else because you missed the point of my argument here yet again: the purpose is to allow the player freedom to tell the story of their character in an environment conducive to success or a fall. It's right there in the paragraph you quoted from!
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)03:30 No.13158334
    Easy there, man, I'm just checking to see if you're the sort of DM who's insistent that true good players must fail (as opposed to having a challenge that they CAN win) and screws them over if they don't fit in with the morally grey setting.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)03:32 No.13158345
    This advice is pretty good and furthermore comes with an easy-to-envisage method for instituting it. The Antagonist is pretty clearly playing to a role so if you're getting pissed at him that probably indicates a defensiveness on your part.

    This is good newbie advice. I'm glad it was archived.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)03:44 No.13158402

    Sorry, I had assumed you were the other poster... unless of course you are and your reasonability grew three sizes this day!


    Thank you. And yes, I've been in character this entire thread. I'm surprised someone inferior caught on: clearly you almost qualify as the missing link between me and the rest of mankind. Almost.
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)03:55 No.13158468

    (I mean come on: the name I've been posting under has been "The Antagonist", and I kicked it off dropping derisive sarcasm and speaking in first person.)
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)05:02 No.13158738
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    >> anomalous 12/15/10(Wed)12:27 No.13161144
    lol@moralfags arguing about objective morality vs subjective opinion. enjoy your eternity of arguing
    >> kickass thread, questions and commentary on black'n'white morality... Arthur Criticus 12/15/10(Wed)15:04 No.13162094
    something i REALLY like in a lot of asian movies (chinese historical fantasy in particular) is the depictions of personal motivations of ALL characters on both sides of what would otherwise be the "good guy/bad guy" fence. just because a warlord is conquering kingdoms doesnt mean he is literally a baby-sacrificing monster. wanting to unite "the kingdom" under a single supposedly "just" leader is a very idealistic concept.

    the "real" world is full of characters whose personal motivations set them at odds with each other and political allegiances that support one industry at the cost of another. i understand that for the purposes of many game systems, there are god/alignment-related powers that are only available for those whose actions most reflect the god's/alignment's ideals, but i find that games that put real human drama before half (or even fully) baked "moral" grounds are both more realistic and easier to get players personally invested in than the alternative. also, SIGNIFICANTLY harder to gm, i'm sure.

    i really dig what you've written, mister antagonist! i'm just much more interested in grey area than the good/evil borderline. thoughts?
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)15:51 No.13162544
    Spotted this on sup/tg/. Realized it was still active.

    Very fun and interesting read. Quite amused by the IC attitude and such. I do have to wonder if that one guy in this thread burns books because they keep talking down to him. Or something.

    On topic:
    I don't think the Grey Demon is used often or properly nearly often enough. It's usually all Black all the time. The distinction you need to view these as seperate is an illuminating one.
    I find myself trying to think of media examples of Black and Grey demons.
    Would Vash's brother Knives from Trigun not count as a Black Demon? One defeated in a white manner. Wouldn't that entire anime be about a "Paladin" refusing the Grey Demon at every step even when facing people that have accepted the Black Demon?
    How about Death Note (Need some non-anime references). The grey demon dances around throughout the start of the story. Eventually he tags out and it's all Black from there.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)16:44 No.13163059
    This seems very slowpoke to say, but, every time somebody typed the name "Anzin", I read it as "Asian"
    >> The Antagonist !YgQRHAJqRA 12/15/10(Wed)17:38 No.13163625
    Wow, this hasn't 404'd.

    Missed this last night. These places are pretty dark settings, and have slipped into tragedy. It's a damn shame the world isn't willing to do something about it other than just talk... I mean just as planned.

    Oh, I agree, the majority of antagonists in the real world or a game world tend to be morally grey rather than black, but there are some real sickos out there. Google pictures of Darfur, Rwanda, or the Conflict over minerals in the Congo no one is talking about right now. I find Grey vs Grey vs White settings to be rather more upbeat than even the real world unless you play it for tragedy, in which case it becomes dark

    I like such setting though, and they work for a variety of tones.


    Sadly, I've neglected to watch much Trigun, but on Deathnote I completely agree. To use the TV Tropes term, we can designate the Grey/Black divide as a moral event horizon, but I have always wanted to examine the phenomenon more closely.

    To be honest... me too.
    >> Anonymous 12/15/10(Wed)19:29 No.13164903
    Bumping for awesome.
    >> Anonymous 12/16/10(Thu)00:06 No.13168196
    Any other rules of thumb or methods people use for this kind of thing?
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 12/16/10(Thu)02:12 No.13169450
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    Forgive the drawfaggotry, but some of these character concepts kinda intrigued me.
    >> Anonymous 12/16/10(Thu)05:16 No.13170898

    Wow, that's pretty accurate to my mental images of them.
    >> Anonymous 12/16/10(Thu)05:45 No.13171081
    Read the First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, you'll be set for life.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 12/16/10(Thu)08:26 No.13172115
    Thanks buddy. Off to work now. Maybe I'll do some more when I get back tonight.

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