Signup
Welcome to... Canonfire! World of GreyhawK
Features
Postcards from the Flanaess
Adventures
in Greyhawk
Cities of
Oerth
Deadly
Denizens
Jason Zavoda Presents
The Gord Novels
Greyhawk Wiki
#greytalk
JOIN THE CHAT
ON DISCORD
    Canonfire :: View topic - Does evil have to mean vile?
    Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion
    Does evil have to mean vile?
    Author Message
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 18, 2007
    Posts: 38


    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:44 am  
    Does evil have to mean vile?

    I've a question for the group, how do each of you handle how evil as represented in your campaigns? Given that D&D grew out of board wargaming, the game seems to represent evil with a fairly cardboard cut out approach. In the human sense at least, though, I can only see a handful of raving lunatic type psychotics actually having a desire to worship/practice evil as represented. Looking at real human cultures, I can't think of one that actually said it was evil combatting good. The Nazi's committed the Holocaust in the name of saving mankind from the "evils" of the Jews, Communists, Gypsies, etc. Western Colonialists conquered and dominated cultures the world over to "civilize" and "uplift" the "savage races". Communist totalitarian regimes starved and/or exectued millions in the pursuit of "progress". Cannibal tribes practicing horrific human sacrifice rituals consider themselves to be good, and those trying to stop them evil. Given that, the closest I can see to a decent depiction of a realistic evil is the lawful evil point of might makes right, the ends justify the means. Granted this is a game, but I cant' see whole nations/societies growing up calling themselves evil, worshipping beings known 100% (in a magical world) to be demons or devils, and comitting infant torture/sacrifice as "normal". What half way sane being would look forward to an afterlife in a place called Hell, where they'd be at best transformed into Lemures or Larvae to feed stronger creatures and/or serve as mindless slaves for eternity? Getting back to my question, how do other DM's represent evil in their worlds?
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 17, 2004
    Posts: 899
    From: Computer Desk

    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:35 pm  

    I agree with you; except for the depraved lunatics few people or groups view themselves as "evil". Even sociopaths and psychopaths have a viewpoint. Just as in real life; self-delusion and justification should play an important role in the attitudes of people.

    Of course with truly evil creatures part of GH and a structured afterlife; the stakes are infinitely higher. Some, especially those raised within it could truly believe in the purity of the moral system; the evil alignments do have a moral philosophy. Many no doubt believe they are not personally evil and rationalize their behavior or believe they can be good later and recant. Some faithfully serve to hopefully acquire a better more valued position in the very real afterlife. Some people realise after a few evil acts their is no redemption; so better to serve and make the best of a bad situation.

    Some clever types believe they can find a loophole or turn to some magical means to prevent having to pay up. Others no doubt are desperate and see no option or they desire something now and only worry about the consequences as death approaches.

    Not all nations have to be debased to commit evil acts; several of the so-called good nations have histories of conquest and intolerance. The Pale is rife with intolerance and yet very few even question whether their actions are good. Several of the good nations have committed necessary acts of security but can they be called good. Of course even the definition of acts is interpretative to some degree with multiple gods; what is acceptable to one faith could be blasphemy to another.

    Their is no easy answer within the fluid middle of GH morality and it is their the majority of people exist. It is also why that the evil denizens of the lower planes have become so proficient at temptation. Many people who feel they personally did enough to reach the upper planes no doubt awaken in the lower planes; greeted with mocking demonic or devilish laughter as they transform into lemures or larvae.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 13, 2008
    Posts: 184
    From: Houston Texas

    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:37 pm  

    I have to agree with you.

    The means in which I portray evil in my games is much more subtle. PC's are more likely to deal with evil religious fanatics who are followers of Photus, then anyone who is evil that follows Iuz, Nerul or Incabulos.

    The reason is simple. When the dividing lines become blurry and you don't know exactly who the enemy is then the game takes on a far more sinister bent and it becomes far more realistic.

    To this bent I have even set about creating "good" cults of evil dieties. So far I have only done one but this is what I have so far.

    The Death Gaurd of Nerull

    The Death Gaurd have two responsibilities. The first, is hunting down and killing "evil" people and the second is the destruction of undead. The rationalization as to how a good culture would accept this is based losely off of the Euthanatos from Mage the Ascension. The belief they practice is one based on reincarnation and karmic balance. It teaches that a person who does not die a natural death is not delivered to their final punishment/reward but rather their soul is recycled, sent back to Oerth for testing. The Death Guard practice a tradition that they call "the Good Death" where they ritually mark a person for execution and then ritually hunt them down and execute them.

    Further more, they also believe that undeath is a blessing bestowed upon the worthy and the faithful by Nerul, if one isn't a Nerulite they would percieve that individuals undeath as a blasphemy and they would also be hunted down and executed.

    This makes them seem almost like good guys in a sort, but they are just as corruptible as any other religous sect and because they kill their quarry without making any attempts to redeem them they are still very much evil but it is an evil that has a more realistic flavor to it.

    The plotline I am running right now involves an order of Paladins dedicated to Pholtus as the main antagonists. I came up with this idea a while ago because I wanted to show that even good guys can be bad.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 12, 2008
    Posts: 130


    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:03 pm  

    Evil is what you make of it.

    While there are people who are evil, and revel in it, the majority of those who are 'evil' don't realize it. From their point of view they are making the best of a bad situation.

    In the main, the worshipers of Hextor look to him as a god of Battle, not Tyranny. Erythnul is likely not so much revered as appeased - "Let the slaughter pass us by" kinda thing.

    Our own world has had its death cults, and by and large Death - in whatever incarnation, be it Nerull or Kali - is another force to be appeased, not revered. But it is something that cannot be ignored, even by worshipers of good gods, for everything dies, sooner or later.

    In general, unless someone is totally evil (and likely more than a bit psychotic), there is a good reason for them to do what they do. Ambition for power may grow out of desire to protect.

    And the best villians of all are the ones the players want to save, not to kill. Because the villian sees no need of salvation; he's already doing the right thing - so his opponents, by definition, are evil...
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006
    Posts: 486
    From: Dantredun, MN

    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:40 pm  

    IMO, the conflict between "civilized" and "uncivilized" nations is more interesting and realistic than the heavily good vs. evil framework of later GH materials. The final paragraph of the '83 boxed set history paints a much more complex picture than say, the Marklands. Sure there are "evil lands," but Gygax put a lot of focus on the different levels of civilization, with raising humanoid realms and "nomads, bandits and barbarians raid[ing] southward" every year (Gaz 11). I love Sargent's dark ages atmosphere but his works do require some vigilance to prevent a black and white, good guys and bad guys distinction with so many fiends roaming around.

    Some ways to keep Greyhawk grey:

    Give Keoland, Urnst and the Pale small areas with LE rulers.

    Mordy and the true neutral CoE members should piss off the good extremists once in a while too.

    Muddy the waters of divinity: bring back Iuz's CN tendencies, bring back the 20% LG clergy of Wee Jas, make Hextor less of a generic evil wargod (according to Ivid the Undying his rivalry with Heironeous was seen as healthy and productive during the formation of the Great Kingdom. Maybe Rel Mord's temple in WG8 makes sense after all.)

    More tension between the east and west, Highfolk and Wolf Nomads, Furyondy and Perrenland, and the barbarians and everyone else.

    EDIT:
    manus-nigrum wrote:

    The plotline I am running right now involves an order of Paladins dedicated to Pholtus as the main antagonists. I came up with this idea a while ago because I wanted to show that even good guys can be bad.


    That's a really good idea!
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 18, 2007
    Posts: 38


    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 6:27 pm  

    I like the Death Guard idea, as well as the Paladins of Pholtus. The reason I posted this topic was to try and get how the evil tribes/groups/nations would fit in to the larger picture. I can see individuals (even ones of great power) worshipping evil deities/demons/devils in bids for power, out of sheer madness or psychotic bloodlust. By definition these would be extremely small and scattered groups, however. I remember a dragonlance short story where a mage was capturing people and draining their life force to keep his dying son alive, I thought that was a more intelligent angle on why evil acts might be committed.

    I can see nations/tribes committing evil acts in the name of good. What I'm wondering is in all the books/modules I've read, the groups are openly, proclaiming to the world at large, EVIL. With a capital E on their chests en mass. Not a couple twisted wizards using evil for personal power, nor a King leading his people on a mad bid for conquest. It's entire nations worshipping Hextor by watchig ritual torture, Orcs proclaiming the wonders of the War in the Hells between them and the Goblin spirits, Iuz's kingdom complete with roads of bones. I just can't see large numbers of human beings (nor really, demi-humans or humanoids) saying "Gee, I want to conquer the world in the name of the Lord of Pain, so he can build a throne of skulls". Take Iuz, he's described as a horrific, disgusting old human, or a huge, equally horrifying demon. In the books, evil people (humans, demi-humans nd humanoids) are drawn to this, and consider it awesome, while despising the beauty of the forest, unicorns, fluffy little bunnies and beauty in general. I just can't picture Iuz gathering a following of more than about 5 escapred lunatics, maybe frightening 100 more into submission, the rest would run off and hide from his hideous mug.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 17, 2007
    Posts: 23


    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 6:40 pm  

    In a previous campaign, I ran the Pholtans of the Pale like the Iranian Revolution. Their Paladins were all about enforcing the strict moral standards handed down by the Theocrat, some times at the point of a sword or noose. Needless to say, they were not nice people.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006
    Posts: 486
    From: Dantredun, MN

    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:05 pm  

    Gman, I agree that it doesn't make a lot of sense. I'd guess the status quo is partially due to the fact that orcs and witches have been walking around with capital E's for as long as fantasy literature has been around; theres a lot of momentum going against any rationalization.

    Keep in mind however, that Iuz does have something much more tangible to offer his followers than the average lunatic preacher in the real world: magic.

    In the real world, people commit all sorts of stupid, short-sighted and downright atrocious deeds in the pursuit of wealth and power. Add magic to the list, along with the remote possibilities of immortality and divine ascension to the ranks of quasi and demi-gods, and you've opened a whole new can of worms. If the order of the black robes simply offered Rastlin a raise in his wizardly salary he probably would have continued down the path of neutrality. Anakin Skywalker is another example. In a fantasy world, the more f'ed up, terrible things High Priestess Halga does the more powerful Iuz makes her. In turn, the Road of Skulls adds to Iuz's infamy and he gains power with each mortal he terrifies. Ranking members of the Boneheart and Horned Society no doubt find ways to justify their actions at lower levels but after a while their cognitive dissonance breaks down and they become either deluded or insane.

    I remember hearing somewhere how systematic methods of turning everyday guys into gun-toting death squads have been developed by different fascist regimes over the years (forcing them to shoot first at targets, then dummies, then dead bodies, then return fire in self defense, etc.). Detailing the ways in which different bloodthirsty cults and evil...ahem, decadent nations get their hooks into people at a young age might add a (rather depressing) element of realism to campaigns. Of course, Brave New World and 1984 detail a number of ways.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 18, 2007
    Posts: 38


    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:54 pm  

    Quote:
    Detailing the ways in which different bloodthirsty cults and evil...ahem, decadent nations get their hooks into people at a young age might add a (rather depressing) element of realism to campaigns. Of course, Brave New World and 1984 detail a number of ways


    I agree, one big reason we all participate in D&D/Greyhawk is to escape the dreary reality of the world we live in, and I wouldn't want Greyhawk to become a mirror of the sad reality of the modern world.

    Like I said in the original post, my big issue is just that no one I know of ever said "Wow, I'd like to be the epitome of all that is depraved, warped and representative of the worst parts of my culture/religion/worldview", which is the basic definition of evil. That vast numbers of beings would openly do this is more than a little weird.

    ANyway, it seems that of the DM's that responded, most identify evil in their campaigns with the desire for power at any cost, with movements/religions that practice forced conversion/inquisitons/pogroms, and from insane psychotic type personalities. Some use the intolerance and bad deeds committed in the name of rightousness angles. Most agree that evil individuals/nations/societies do not think of themselves as evil per se, they see their views as the right ones (even if that includes vile practices such as cannibalism or child sacrifice or slavery). IMO I would say that would be the most resonable approach to how evil would be displayed in a world. Now, let's see how Lawful Good followers of Hextor and Lawful Evil ones of Heironeous would fit into this...
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 447
    From: Canada

    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:58 pm  

    In my view, there are many different kinds of "evil" that can be applied, each in their own way.

    Orcs and goblins are genuinely evil, and really don't care if you call them that-in the vast majority of cases, humans are nothing more than food to them. Same thing applies for a lot of nonhuman races, and human followers of evil gods as well-they don't give a damn about morals of any sort, just their own personal power and gain.

    Where things start to get a little more complicated, however, are places like the Bandit Kingdoms, the Horned Society, and the Aerdi states-the Great Kingdom or Ahlissa, for example. These lands are often cruel and tyrannical, or vicious and oppressive, but they can have their virtues here and there. What separates them from your average mad wizard bent on conquest, an orc king, or a balor demon is that they actively participate in the larger politics of the Flanaess.

    In my view, the Horned Society and the Great Kingdom have embassies in places like Greyhawk, Keoland and Urnst the same way any other more benign power would, and have typical trading relations, with their flags being flown by merchant ships and trading caravans. Ahlissa will team up with Greyhawk or the Principality of Ulek to deal a check to raiders from Onnwal, Irongate or Idee that seek to block their trade, or to strike at pirates from the Lordship of the Isles. The Hold of the Sea Princes may tentatively ally with the Yeomanry in case of war with Keoland, the same way the United States allied with Soviet Russia in World War II-they might loathe each other's systems and ways of life, but they have to team up to fight the common threat.

    Similarly, I see no reason why temples of Vecna, Incabulos, or Nerull couldn't be openly built and operated in lands such as Sterich, Urnst, Idee, Greyhawk, Nyrond, or other non-evil realms. Real-life religions such as Christianity and Islam are riddled with internal divisions and conflicts of opinion; why should the faiths of Greyhawk be any different? The faith of Incabulos will preach to any who convert to it, but in practice most people donate simply to have the priests pray on their behalf to Incabulos so he doesn't bring his misery down on them. Similarly, Nerull is a major god of the dead-if those poor people have no god and no religion to give them a decent burial and usher them into the next life, the followers of Nerull will do so, taking care of the dead when other faiths can't or won't do so. They interpret the teachings of their gods differently than the clerics who plot to conquer and/or destroy the Flanaess.

    Finally, if you have a look at my "Forgotten Tales from the Lands of Good" article, you'll see that 'good' countries can be just as capable of oppression or otherwise "evil" acts: Nyrond permits slavery if the slave is an Aerdi human; women, elves and halflings are not allowed to vote in elections in the Yeomanry; Onnwal and Irongate brutally oppressed many of the original Flan peoples of the Headlands and the Iron Hills in a manner akin to the way Aboriginal peoples were mistreated in real life history; Idee and Sunndi fought each other in a series of bloody wars before their conquest by the Aerdi.

    Are there tyrannical goblin kings, mad wizards bent on domination, and evil giants threatening to destroy the kingdom? Sure. But there are also evil faiths who simply operate the way any normal religion does, and aren't interested in your typical vile deeds, 'evil' kingdoms who openly trade and ally with good ones as needed, and 'good' kingdoms that perform deeds that most would regard as 'evil'.

    Not every "evil" person is a moustache-twirling bad guy who's evil for evil's sake, but neither is every "evil" person a sympathetic, misunderstood tragic figure who only needs some understanding. They both exist, just like in real life.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
    Posts: 3807
    From: So. Cal

    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:10 pm  

    Demons, daemons, demodands, and devils are genuinely evil.

    Most mortal creatures have a morale compass of some kind which they either choose to heed, or not, and that is what determines if they are evil or not. Some races are permaated by a culture of evil, and so they are assumed to be eveil due to how they were raised. orcs and govblin are a good example of this, and so it is no surprise that a human like Turin Deathstalker that was raised in such a culture would turn out to be evil too. Take a baby orc and have it be raised by good humans and it will likely turn out to be good.

    Evil is a matter of what an individual is willing to do to get what they want rather than what they were raised to consider as normal. There are cultures of evil to be sure, but also evil choices to be made. I see purposeful eveil choices as being een moreveil that cultural evil. Combining the two gives you some uber evil individuals. Throw in some sort of psychological pathos on top of all that and you have some truly disturbed individuals that one would never want to run into in a dark alley.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 12, 2005
    Posts: 266


    Send private message
    Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:32 pm  

    Just to give another example of a grey area that I have used. I created an Order of the Iron Stars as a breakaway faction amongst St Cuthbert's Order of Stars in Verbobonc. They believed that the church in Verbobonc was morally corrupt and that it should be reformed on their model. In the end, they committed what would be viewed as evil acts (stealing from a temple, executing fellow priests) all in the name of the greater good that they thought they were serving. Now, I never explored who was granting their spells during their rampages, but IMC they still lurk on an island sanctuary in the Nyr Dyv close to Dyvers, licking their wounds and planning a return.

    As others have said above, evil is very much a point of view. The Spanish Inquisition always believed they were serving the good of the church and there are countless similar real-world examples from history that you can use as models. Rather than trying for the gritty realism of the modern world, I would try for the fractious politics of the medieval or renaissance (or even Roman) periods and look for examples there.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 18, 2007
    Posts: 38


    Send private message
    Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:43 am  

    Quote:
    As others have said above, evil is very much a point of view. The Spanish Inquisition always believed they were serving the good of the church and there are countless similar real-world examples from history that you can use as models. Rather than trying for the gritty realism of the modern world, I would try for the fractious politics of the medieval or renaissance (or even Roman) periods and look for examples there.


    I like this angle too. Again, my original post was referring to the whole "Hi welcome to the church of evil, have some smelly unholy water while you watch the holy torture session for pleasure and stare at the horribly foul visage of Grog the Awful, Devourer of Souls, Smelliest Farter of the Abyss, etc, and thinking bad thoughts about puppies, daisies, and your mom" representation of evil on a mass scale I ws referring to.

    Quote:
    Demons, daemons, demodands, and devils are genuinely evil.

    Most mortal creatures have a morale compass of some kind which they either choose to heed, or not, and that is what determines if they are evil or not. Some races are permaated by a culture of evil, and so they are assumed to be eveil due to how they were raised. orcs and govblin are a good example of this, and so it is no surprise that a human like Turin Deathstalker that was raised in such a culture would turn out to be evil too. Take a baby orc and have it be raised by good humans and it will likely turn out to be good.


    I agree on this one to a degree. I think that the way of life of goblins and orcs makes them evil, as defined by humanity. I don't see the orcs and goblins, however, calling themselves and their way of life evil, and running around glorifying evil per se. It would be more like the cannibalistic/human sacrifice viewpoint of some histoirc tribes, those things are simply normal, the way you propitate the gods, and get the rains/food/victory to come. Demons and the like make sense as horribly evil beings of the otherworld. They simply are the primal force of evil, represetning the dark side of huanity/demi-humanity in the spiritual realm (as in historic representaions of demons/devils).
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 06, 2005
    Posts: 39


    Send private message
    Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:27 am  

    I think the 1e representation of evil is much more accurate. Reread the discussion of the "detect evil" spell and paladin ability in the 1E DMG and PHB. Also, I have a post by Gary Gygax on this subject that elaborates on this in greater detail. It was very enlightening to reread this as an adult. Remember, Gygax has said he used alignment as a roleplaying guide as much as anything.

    Only demons, devils, and powerful figures committed to evil (say an evil high priest) or a twisted psychopathic murderer will register as nearly purely evil. Someone who is intent on an moderately evil act will temporarily register with a twinge of evil. In his Gord books, Gygax used colors to show alignment (black being evil) when characters were viewed magically. Human characters viewed magically were generally a swirling mass of colors with occasional streaks of a particular color in line with their dominant ethos or acts at a point in time. The Gygaxian view of alignment is that yeah we matter but only JUST on a cosmic scale and most humans are pretty muddled but the Universe does have truly cosmic evil and woe to those who try to use relativistic twaddle to deal with demons, devils or even drow.

    Basically, 1e made a distinction between cosmic EVIL and occasional acts. Those who commit occasional minor evil acts and aren't very powerful don't register on the cosmic scale of evil. The gord books show an implied view of our significance on the cosmic scale.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 17, 2004
    Posts: 899
    From: Computer Desk

    Send private message
    Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:00 pm  

    Back to your main point; how can large numbers of people acquiesce to blatantly evil societies.

    Simple answer: hopelessness and despair

    I watched a documentary on the holocaust - a blanantly evil act but an interview that I remember was a dutch businessman from late in the war. The dutch knew the germans were losing and had heard the rumours of the camps. This businessman remembered more then a hundred jews waiting to be deported; guarded by three soldiers. He wondered why the jews did nothing and once home he wondered why he did nothing. As he said in a crowded civilized city of millions no one did anything because everyone was only concerned with their own small world and survival. Until you live with that fear I can't explain how powerful it is.

    This emotional disavowal of empathy and underlying fear has been seen in every age. Every dictator and tyrant uses it in some measure to enforce control it is not the power of the tyrant but the percieved power and fear the populace feels that is important. The peasants and workers of eastern europe were not evil but they believed it was safer to keep your head down. No sizable population agaitated so nothing changed - saying: the nail that stands up gets hammered. However when the pall of fear is lifted and another option is presented change can come with astonishing speed - fall of the iron curtain.

    Imagine the atmosphere within the Iuz homeland if you were a peasant. The very things you suggest would send them running to the hills would I suggest be an ever present reminder to keep them in the fields and their heads down. Fearful that someone or something will notice them and if their lifelong friend is tapped beside them they may feel shame but also relieved it was not them. They faithfully attend "the church of evil" and swallow their bile because if they don't they or their loved ones could be on the altar tomorrow. Parents may even be relieved if their children are selected for the societial elite classes because it should provide their child and perhaps themselves some measure of protection.

    Given the blanant evil of societies within GH where do you expect the common man who fears everything and has no idea what lies beyond the next hill to run towards. Even if he succeeds why should he believe the good nations will accept him - a follower of the evil creature, demi-god, tyrant or mad wizard. It must seem safer and easier to keep your head down. The poor peasants and countless urban poor found within GH choose fearful anonymity. Just as the real life dutch businessman and countless others throughout history did in ours.

    Later generations always ask; why didn't they do something - anything.
    Answer: Until you live with that fear I can't explain how powerful it is.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 12, 2008
    Posts: 130


    Send private message
    Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:52 am  

    One of the best things to do to make an evil character memorable is give him a good trait for the players to see.

    Case in point: In my current game (set about 100 yrs. after the Wars), one man has managed to conquer much of the Flanaess under the flag of Nyrond. For much of that time he has been known as the Dark Lord, because he has outlawed all religions.

    What is confusing the players is that thus far, he has been a pretty good ruler despite having wiped out the priesthoods of St. Cuthbert, Pholtus, and Heironeous (the rest being smart and subtle enough to go underground, so to speak).

    I'd say more about that, but one of my players might just see this and the campaign isn't over yet...

    But in general, the best villians have a rationale for thier acts, and their rationale is based on compassion - for an individual, or for their country as a whole.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 07, 2004
    Posts: 1843
    From: Mt. Smolderac

    Send private message
    Sat Aug 16, 2008 9:07 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Similarly, I see no reason why temples of Vecna, Incabulos, or Nerull couldn't be openly built and operated in lands such as Sterich, Urnst, Idee, Greyhawk, Nyrond, or other non-evil realms. Real-life religions such as Christianity and Islam are riddled with internal divisions and conflicts of opinion; why should the faiths of Greyhawk be any different?


    Because, to quote Ash from Army of Darkness, they're primitive screwheads. YMMV on this depending on the cultural and social development of your own GH campaign but that would be my reasoning. The rulers and people of a land are only going to accept something that is strange and alien or to simplify things in our case, "evil" if there is something in it for them.And in those cases they're going to rationalize it somehow. When Muslims conquered much of India they ended up governing huge population of Hindus who pretty plainly according to the Koran had to either convert or die. Well, that was impractical for a number of reasons so you had a situation where the qadis (religious judges) allowed Hindus to be considered "People of the Book." If the Hindus had been a small minority among a majority of acceptable (and most importantly, taxable) Christians or Jews then there probably wouldn't be many Hindus in the world today.
    Otherwise, CSL, I agree with everything you said. Smile This has been a really good thread with some great issues raised.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 06, 2005
    Posts: 39


    Send private message
    Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:20 pm  

    how can large numbers of people acquiesce to blatantly evil societies.?

    Not hopelessness and despair. Fear and opportunity.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006
    Posts: 486
    From: Dantredun, MN

    Send private message
    Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:11 pm  

    txwad wrote:
    how can large numbers of people acquiesce to blatantly evil societies.?

    Not hopelessness and despair. Fear and opportunity.


    Carl Sargent wrote a good section about the "neutral-exhausted" alignment of commoners in the former Great Kingdom:
    Quote:

    However, it is equally true that the attitudes and behavior even of peasants has shifted toward the malign. Generations of increasingly cruel rulers, and the stalking of the lands by orcs, evil priests, and the like does takes its toll after years. One peasant might murder another for a single coin in his pocket—or because he uttered some personal insult which might have simply led to a fistfight even 20 or 30 years past.

    What was once an insular uncertainty toward outsiders and foreigners has turned into outright hostility—even threats and possible attack in the hope of taking money, clothing, possessions, anything of value. The ordinary people have been affected by the changes among their rulers; they see Evil triumph, and they begin to affiliate with it themselves. This is, perhaps, the greatest of all the tragedies of this once-great nation.
    -Ivid the Undying
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 17, 2004
    Posts: 899
    From: Computer Desk

    Send private message
    Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:52 pm  

    I was thinking of ItU as I wrote my posts; just to lazy to find it.

    Nice catch vestcoat Smile

    He also mentioned the despair of the peasant as not Neutral Evil but Neutral Exhausted.
    Well said Carl Sargent Wink

    I see no reason his thoughts should not apply elsewhere.


    Last edited by Crag on Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:51 am; edited 1 time in total
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 13, 2008
    Posts: 184
    From: Houston Texas

    Send private message
    Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:00 pm  

    smillan_31 wrote:
    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Similarly, I see no reason why temples of Vecna, Incabulos, or Nerull couldn't be openly built and operated in lands such as Sterich, Urnst, Idee, Greyhawk, Nyrond, or other non-evil realms. Real-life religions such as Christianity and Islam are riddled with internal divisions and conflicts of opinion; why should the faiths of Greyhawk be any different?


    Because, to quote Ash from Army of Darkness, they're primitive screwheads. YMMV on this depending on the cultural and social development of your own GH campaign but that would be my reasoning. The rulers and people of a land are only going to accept something that is strange and alien or to simplify things in our case, "evil" if there is something in it for them.And in those cases they're going to rationalize it somehow. When Muslims conquered much of India they ended up governing huge population of Hindus who pretty plainly according to the Koran had to either convert or die. Well, that was impractical for a number of reasons so you had a situation where the qadis (religious judges) allowed Hindus to be considered "People of the Book." If the Hindus had been a small minority among a majority of acceptable (and most importantly, taxable) Christians or Jews then there probably wouldn't be many Hindus in the world today.


    This is very true. In the example I cited earlier about the Death Gaurd of Nerull I had to have a PC acceptable religion that allowed for the worship of an otherwise evil god. This was in the Principality of Ulek. I decided that since it was on the southern coast I would give it a bit of a New Orleans Voodoo feel and mixed in a bit of Indian (Dots not feathers) death cult for flavor. I then told the player that this faith was openly practiced here, but elsewhere in Ulek it was frowned apon and outside of Ulek it was outright illegal.

    Evil faiths need not be entirely evil though. Even in my Death Gaurd example, they did evil things for the greater good. This is very much an example of rationalization but Nerull could also be used as a god of Morticians or as a ferrymen or sorts ala Anubis or Charon. Here we have another example of how a wholesale population can be duped into worshiping an evil deity. An outside appearance of benignity can do just very that. The argument could also be made that another 'greater' evil causes people to focus on something that isn't really a problem instead of addressing what truly is causing the problems at hand.

    Patricia Pulling comes to mind...


    smillan_31 wrote:
    Otherwise, CSL, I agree with everything you said. Smile This has been a really good thread with some great issues raised.


    Absolutly!
    Display posts from previous:   
       Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion All times are GMT - 8 Hours
    Page 1 of 1

    Jump to:  

    You cannot post new topics in this forum
    You cannot reply to topics in this forum
    You cannot edit your posts in this forum
    You cannot delete your posts in this forum
    You cannot vote in polls in this forum




    Canonfire! is a production of the Thursday Group in assocation with GREYtalk and Canonfire! Enterprises

    Contact the Webmaster.  Long Live Spidasa!


    Greyhawk Gothic Font by Darlene Pekul is used under the Creative Commons License.

    PHP-Nuke Copyright © 2005 by Francisco Burzi. This is free software, and you may redistribute it under the GPL. PHP-Nuke comes with absolutely no warranty, for details, see the license.
    Page Generation: 0.29 Seconds