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    Canonfire :: View topic - What's for dinner? or "I eat the shark-man"
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    What's for dinner? or "I eat the shark-man"
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    CF Admin

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    Tue Nov 03, 2020 6:57 pm  
    What's for dinner? or "I eat the shark-man"

    Do you think that eating humanoid monsters (e.g., sahuagin) comports with, or violates, good or neutral PCs' alignments? More broadly, do you imagine that certain monsters make for exotic meals in the Flanaess?

    Context: in my nascent 5e campaign, which is heavy on social interaction, and uses the Three Pillar Experience system, the PCs defended the sloop on which they're traveling from raiding sea devils but didn't "loot the bodies." Therefore, the sloop's captain claimed the corpses and sold them in Saltmarsh the following day to the town's wealthiest merchant, whose chef prepared them as the exotic main course for his feast the next night.

    This provided the opportunity for the PCs, who were invited to the merchant's dinner, to confront whether or not to eat deep-fried sahuagin. One of the PCs asserted, "The shark-man would surely have eaten me had we not prevailed. I eat the shark-man." Another PC felt disgusted by the prospect of eating a sentient humanoid, so he quietly refused to eat it. The third was seated beside the host, felt compelled by decorum (and his interest in making a good impression), and ate it up.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:19 am  

    Everything is meat to something else, though I would view eating something capable of communicating on/near a human equivalency as a morally ambiguous activity. This would be situational (with regards to the type of campaign one wants to run), but generally I would think those of Good alignment would be less likely to partake.

    As to anything being eaten as an exotic dish, why not? Culture shock is viable to roleplay, as is decadence/reservedness and moral ambiguity. All are useful tools to set theme/tone/mood. Season your campaign as you wish to achieve the desired level of oddness/dystopia.

    This topic somewhat reminds of the Death Leech from Snarfquest (Dragon Magazine, issues 101 & 102 in particular). Oh, the dreaded vegetarian Death Leech! Laughing
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    Wed Nov 04, 2020 9:27 am  

    I had a group that liked to investigate the edibility of various monsters eventually including dragons and kraken. No humanoids though; apparently it wasn't sapience but shape that drew the line. Even nonsapient humanoids, apes, or monkeys were spared from appearing next to the dragon steaks and deep fried kraken bits.

    Alignment didn't come into it in that game, as the characters were generally rather morally ambiguous - freedom fighters, scoundrels, etc. The lot basically danced on the line between good and neutral, but didn't dip into evil... unless you classify eating nonhuman sapients as evil, which is a grey area. Lacking any characters whose main motivations were moral (paladins and the like) it didn't seem worth getting into.

    Besides, several of us were cooking enthusiasts and coming up with ways to cook various critters was interesting. We determined kraken is a lot like calamari (okay, that one was easy), green dragon needed to be soaked repeatedly to remove the chlorine, and red dragon had to be served al la steak tartare because, being immune to heat and fire, it simply could not be cooked.

    Although heating it did sterilize it without altering the taste or texture at all, which is useful.
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    Wed Nov 04, 2020 10:24 am  

    I have the same issue with my players. Of course you can always just tell everyone certain meat tastes bad. It eliminates any moral ambiguity.
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    Richard Di Ioia (aka Longetalos)
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    Wed Nov 04, 2020 10:43 am  

    It comes up in:

    Danger at Dunwater;

    "The Prince of Redhand".
    CF Admin

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    Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:29 pm  

    jamesdglick, I'm considering running Danger of Dunwater, so I'll look out for that detail.

    Longetalos, I'll keep that idea in my back pocket. Presently, I wanted to create that moral dilemma, and I'm finding it interesting to wonder if the PCs will find/create related dilemmas regarding other monsters (and whaling). None of them are druids or rangers, but one is a paladin (of Zodal, 5e does not require all paladins to be lawful good).

    Vulcan, I love what you'all developed, particularly the red dragon tartare.

    Cebrion, thanks for the Snarfquest references. Those issues of Dragon were among the first ones I purchased/read, and it was really fun rereading and reminiscing about when I first read them. I loved that cartoon's absurdity.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Thu Nov 05, 2020 2:48 am  

    As to exotic dishes, I am also reminded of the movie, "The Freshman," starring Marlon Brando, Mathew Broderick, and others. For anyone who hasn't seen it (I don't want to ruin it), it is worth watching for the main idea. Laughing
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    Thu Nov 05, 2020 10:24 am  

    mtg wrote:
    jamesdglick, I'm considering running Danger of Dunwater, so I'll look out for that detail...


    -I don't remember the players being asked to eat sahuagin, but it's possible for them to infiltrate the lizardmen's kitchen and assume that they're Evil (or at least malign) based on the bodies ready for preparation. Of course, if the players cut a deal with the lizardmen, it could come up at a celebratory dinner. They wouldn't want to offend their hosts, would they?

    Come to think of it, the Dragon (or was it Dungeon?) article on Alhaster (companion to "Prince of Redhand") notes a butcher shop that sells all types of meats. The halfling proprietor assures people that he's not a cannibal because he's never eaten halfling. Evil Grin


    Cebrion wrote:
    ...This topic somewhat reminds of the Death Leech from Snarfquest (Dragon Magazine, issues 101 & 102 in particular). Oh, the dreaded vegetarian Death Leech! Laughing


    -There was also the argument concerning whether their feathered guitar-playing companion should eat a chicken.
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    Fri Nov 06, 2020 11:10 pm  
    Re: What's for dinner? or "I eat the shark-man"

    mtg wrote:
    Do you think that eating humanoid monsters (e.g., sahuagin) comports with, or violates, good or neutral PCs' alignments? More broadly, do you imagine that certain monsters make for exotic meals in the Flanaess?


    I don't think that eating sentients necessarily violates broad tenets of Good. I would make a distinction between eating something 'already dead' and specifically killing a sentient creature for the purpose of food, though. The latter would likely be a non-Good act.

    Most of the time, though, the ethical ramifications are going to depend on the cultural context and specific background, rather than an appeal to some sort of pan-Good values. Many creatures of Good alignment would be morally repulsed by the thought, but others not. I could see a case where, for example, a priestess of Ehlonna would believe that it would be more Good to eat the sahuagin already justly killed rather than 'wasting' their flesh and then having to hunt non-sentient creatures for food.

    Neutral PC's would also be a question of cultural context, but with a little more wiggle room within their ethos and more situational flexibility. If they are a lizrdfolk PC, they are allowed to ask what the question even means - of course they should be eating the shark-men!
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    Wed Nov 11, 2020 7:36 pm  

    kirt wrote:
    If they are a lizardfolk PCs, they are allowed to ask what the question even means - of course they should be eating the shark-men!

    With hopes this won't be misunderstood, Kirt's quote reminds me of an old supervisor, who once responded to my query (when I was going to get sandwiches), "Do you eat meat?" with "I am an immigrant. I eat anything." As I've interpreted and remembered it, she asserted that her background required her to eat whatever was available in order to survive (consume enough calories) and implied a critique against folks who have the relative luxury to be choosy about what they eat.

    Relating these notions to my campaign, and Greyhawk more generally, I agree with Kirt's points that "the cultural context and specific background, rather than an appeal to some sort of pan-Good values" should control such dilemmas.

    IMC, I was certain that my players would see that the situation posed a potential ethical dilemma and enjoyed the different choices they made for their PCs. For whatever reason, similar questions have arisen in a game in which I play (viz., Are Baklunish monks vegetarian? My answer: No.) and elsewhere in this campaign (viz., Are olves vegetarian. The PC's answer: No.)

    After we played through the main course, however, I started thinking about whaling, which Ghosts of Saltmarsh mentions as a secondary industry to fishing.

    I have yet to go there, but as I write I wonder specifically whether Osprem's religion decries whaling, and what positions Procan and Xerbo's religions take.

    What do you thinkis whaling akin to murder according to Osprem's tenets, or is it more like the refusal to "waste" to which Kirt referred (regarding a priestess of Ehlonna)?
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    Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:35 am  

    In the Beastlands, sapient animals eat one another according to a natural order of life and death. But these are souls/spirits given form, and all accept it as natural, playing their respective roles or predator and prey.


    I'd say hunting and killing sapient beings for their flesh, when they do not accept it as part of the 'cycle of life', is Evil. If you don't realize that they are intelligent, then it isn't the same.

    Eating fallen enemies of another species might be done by some Neutrals. If Lizardmen are hunting humans for their flesh, they are probably corrupted, maybe led by babblers or a lizard-king.
    But if they just fight off some aggressive human intruders and eat the dead left behind as a matter of waste not, want not, this fits Neutral.
    Keeping intelligent captives as meat stock sounds downright Evil.


    Whales in D&D are sometimes shown as much more intelligent/humanlike in mind than real whales. That does raise some moral questions.
    I prefer (most) whales to have animal or semi- intelligence. But that's my take. [/i]
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    Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:42 am  

    You could also go with 'killing and then eating anyone with a soul is Evil, but doing the same to creatures with spirits isn't (necessarily) so.'

    That makes sahuaghin and orcs fine to eat. And elves! Om nom nom. They'll just reincarnate.

    I wouldn't actually use this distinction, but it could be interesting.

    [/b][/i]
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    Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:58 am  

    FormerlyKnownasNorker wrote:
    You could also go with 'killing and then eating anyone with a soul is Evil, but doing the same to creatures with spirits isn't (necessarily) so.'


    The followers of Pholtus in my campaign hold the doctrine that elves and other demi-humans/humanoids with spirits are the same as animals under religious law. If you kill an elf in the Pale the most you could be charged with is destruction of property.
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    Fri Jan 15, 2021 10:18 am  

    Cool

    Of course, wanton slaying of good-aligned beings would still be capital E Evil, regardless of what the Pholtan lawyers think.
    (Unless one is actually adopting the idea that the spirit/soul distinction really does make the difference, morally and metaphysically. )


    There's no reason the laws of a LN society need to line up with Good and Evil in alignment terms.
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    Fri Jan 15, 2021 5:28 pm  

    It wouldn't necessarily be evil, but I think a lot of humans and demihumans would be disgusted at the idea of eating monsters like lizard men, minotaurs, koalinth and sahuagin, largely because they're too human-like, dwarf-like, etc. They'd be just as revolted by the idea of eating humanoids too, for the same reason. Eating other humans or demihumans, of course, would be treated as cannibalism. You might do it if you have no other choice to survive, but otherwise it's something you just don't do.

    Eating monsters like krakens, dragons, and anything else that isn't human-like in shape is much more likely to be fair game unless they're goodly-aligned or the good-aligned creature tells you to do so before it dies.

    Whether or not many of these creatures would be edible in the first place is another matter entirely. If there are real-life animals and fruits that are too poisonous for us to safely eat, then the same could easily apply to any number of monsters. Would you really want to chance eating the flesh of a black or green dragon?
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    Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:52 pm  

    FormerlyKnownasNorker wrote:
    You could also go with 'killing and then eating anyone with a soul is Evil, but doing the same to creatures with spirits isn't (necessarily) so.'

    That makes sahuaghin and orcs fine to eat. And elves! Om nom nom. They'll just reincarnate.

    I wouldn't actually use this distinction, but it could be interesting.

    Norker, that is a fascinating idea. Later editions seem to have dropped this distinction, but I remember it well and think it made for an interesting difference between elves and other demihumans (and humans).

    I'll need to reflect more on it vis--vis the new elven origin myth in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but I recall that I appreciated the spirit notion making elves more like faeries.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Whether or not many of these creatures would be edible in the first place is another matter entirely. If there are real-life animals and fruits that are too poisonous for us to safely eat, then the same could easily apply to any number of monsters. Would you really want to chance eating the flesh of a black or green dragon?

    These are great examples. I'm unsure if it will come up again, but I expect the PCs to encounter lizardmen, yuan-ti, deep ones / kuo-toa / skum, and troglodytes, so this notion of poisonous or otherwise toxic flesh is helpful.
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    Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:16 am  

    One of the players in my campaign was a Lizardman Druid. he always chopped lumps off of any kills in order to stock up on provisions, regardless of what/who it was.

    His justification was that it was surely more evil to hunt & kill another living thing when there was perfectly good meat just laying around on the battlefield. Which was a bit of a conversation stopper.
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    Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:38 pm  

    DriveByPoster wrote:
    One of the players in my campaign was a Lizardman Druid. he always chopped lumps off of any kills in order to stock up on provisions, regardless of what/who it was.

    His justification was that it was surely more evil to hunt & kill another living thing when there was perfectly good meat just laying around on the battlefield. Which was a bit of a conversation stopper.


    In fairness, I can actually see a lizard man believing and doing that. Even the 1st Edition DMG suggested that lizard men would start chowing on the bodies of both their allies and enemies after the battle was over.

    Out of curiosity, what was the druid's alignment? If it was neutral I could easily see it, but even if it was good I could let it pass, particularly since it was such good characterization.
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    Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:17 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    FormerlyKnownasNorker wrote:
    You could also go with 'killing and then eating anyone with a soul is Evil, but doing the same to creatures with spirits isn't (necessarily) so.'

    That makes sahuaghin and orcs fine to eat. And elves! Om nom nom. They'll just reincarnate.

    I wouldn't actually use this distinction, but it could be interesting.

    Norker, that is a fascinating idea. Later editions seem to have dropped this distinction, but I remember it well and think it made for an interesting difference between elves and other demihumans (and humans).

    I'll need to reflect more on it vis--vis the new elven origin myth in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but I recall that I appreciated the spirit notion making elves more like faeries.


    I like the soul/spirit distinction. I only meant I wouldn't likely adopt a hard rule that it's only murder if the creature has a soul, rather than a spirit.
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    Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:19 am  

    [quote="CruelSummerLord"]
    DriveByPoster wrote:

    Out of curiosity, what was the druid's alignment?


    Yes, he was neutral. He had other issues too! :)
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    Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:05 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    FormerlyKnownasNorker wrote:
    You could also go with 'killing and then eating anyone with a soul is Evil, but doing the same to creatures with spirits isn't (necessarily) so.'

    That makes sahuaghin and orcs fine to eat. And elves! Om nom nom. They'll just reincarnate.

    I wouldn't actually use this distinction, but it could be interesting.

    Norker, that is a fascinating idea. Later editions seem to have dropped this distinction, but I remember it well and think it made for an interesting difference between elves and other demihumans (and humans).

    I'll need to reflect more on it vis--vis the new elven origin myth in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but I recall that I appreciated the spirit notion making elves more like faeries.


    The distinction between "souls" and "spirits" seems pretty arbitrary to me. I always found it unfair that elves couldn't be resurrected, and I disliked how it separated them from other demihumans. Hence why in my Greyhawk most theologians, including elven ones, laugh at the notion and assure any questioner that yes, elves do indeed have souls, just as humans, dwarves and other races have spirits.

    Why? Because they're the same thing, of course.
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    Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:10 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    mtg wrote:
    FormerlyKnownasNorker wrote:
    You could also go with 'killing and then eating anyone with a soul is Evil, but doing the same to creatures with spirits isn't (necessarily) so.'

    That makes sahuaghin and orcs fine to eat. And elves! Om nom nom. They'll just reincarnate.

    I wouldn't actually use this distinction, but it could be interesting.

    Norker, that is a fascinating idea. Later editions seem to have dropped this distinction, but I remember it well and think it made for an interesting difference between elves and other demihumans (and humans).

    I'll need to reflect more on it vis--vis the new elven origin myth in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but I recall that I appreciated the spirit notion making elves more like faeries.


    The distinction between "souls" and "spirits" seems pretty arbitrary to me. I always found it unfair that elves couldn't be resurrected, and I disliked how it separated them from other demihumans. Hence why in my Greyhawk most theologians, including elven ones, laugh at the notion and assure any questioner that yes, elves do indeed have souls, just as humans, dwarves and other races have spirits.

    Why? Because they're the same thing, of course.


    I prefer soulless elves, but I would. I like a fairy vibe for the olvenfolk.
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