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Alignment question?

   
Alignment question?

Would it be considered evil for a paladin to liberate a slave by buying it then using said slave to infiltrate the slave trade and disrupt it

Well, on one hand said paladin is putting money in a slaver's pocket, which will be used to acquire and sell more slaves...

On the other hand, said paladin is probably intending to slaughter said slaver at a later date. And it's typically quite difficult to run a business posthumously.

So... it's flirting with the edge, but I don't think it's crossed over. So long as the emancipated slave is willingly and without coercion going to aid in the destruction of said slave trade. Forcing the emancipated slave to help wouldn't necessarily be evil, but it's certainly in 'neutral' territory, and going too far for the paladin's strict morals.

...

The real problem is "law" vs "chaos"- if this is legal slavery, condoned by the legitimate authority of the land, then what he's doing is chaotic... which is just as sure a way to Fall as performing Evil acts.

Liberating a slave by buying it is not evil. As TanaNari mentioned, the the questions comes down to: How does the paladin convince the slave to help him?

I don't think this would cause any alignment shifts. I'd call it a Caution Flag situation. It really depends on how he plays this out.

BEFORE I GO ON, I AM AGAINST SLAVERY. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.

Buying a slave is not, in and of itself, an evil act. It is either a Lawful or Unlawful act depending on the societal construct. If the society allows for the trading of slaves, then it is Lawful, and buying a slave is a lawful act. If the society bans slavery, then it is a criminal act.

So, if your pally buys a slave in a setting where slavery is legal, then what he does with that slave afterwards is the real clinch. If said pally is kind to the slave, sets the slave free, or follows social constructs for good ownership, then technically what the pally is doing is LG. Watch Schindler's List for the closest example to a Lawful Good slave owner I can think of off the top of my head.

If your pally is forcing the slave to endangered him(her)self to free other slaves, and the slave really doesn't want to, then technically, even though the paladin is performing a "good" act, it fits within the confines of disregarding intelligent life. So... technically, that would be an Evil act.

Regardless, if I were running this campaign, though I would certainly be squirming at the implications, I wouldn't ping alignment. I would merely make a mental note to see where this goes, and get ready to adjudicate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
I don't think this would cause any alignment shifts. I'd call it a Caution Flag situation. It really depends on how he plays this out.

BEFORE I GO ON, I AM AGAINST SLAVERY. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.

Buying a slave is not, in and of itself, an evil act. It is either a Lawful or Unlawful act depending on the societal construct. If the society allows for the trading of slaves, then it is Lawful, and buying a slave is a lawful act. If the society bans slavery, then it is a criminal act.

So, if your pally buys a slave in a setting where slavery is legal, then what he does with that slave afterwards is the real clinch. If said pally is kind to the slave, sets the slave free, or follows social constructs for good ownership, then technically what the pally is doing is LG. Watch Schindler's List for the closest example to a Lawful Good slave owner I can think of off the top of my head.

If your pally is forcing the slave to endangered him(her)self to free other slaves, and the slave really doesn't want to, then technically, even though the paladin is performing a "good" act, it fits within the confines of disregarding intelligent life. So... technically, that would be an Evil act.

Regardless, if I were running this campaign, though I would certainly be squirming at the implications, I wouldn't ping alignment. I would merely make a mental note to see where this goes, and get ready to adjudicate.
Gonna have to disagree.
The keeping of slaves is an Evil act.

Treating one's slaves with 'kindness' (insofar as there can be kindness in a master-slave relationship) does not overcome that evil. Cruel treatment of those under one's power is an evil in its own right, separate from the slavery itself.
'Following the social constructs for good ownership' means very little where those social constructs permit the ownership of persons. For comparisons to other slave owners who may violate the social construct, see previous re: separate evil.
The freeing of a slave is a Good act, but that merely counterbalances the evil. It does not retroactively render the owning of that slave non-evil.

The sum total of these events might in some circumstances be Good, and certainly may be Lawful, but the Paladin must also concern themselves with the individual actions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedronai View Post
Gonna have to disagree.
The keeping of slaves is an Evil act.
This still largely depends on cultural paradigms. As a person, in the real and current world, I know that slavery is evil whether it is lawful or not. However, history shows that this wasn't always the perspective. In fact, it was a popularly condoned (and sometimes supported) social construct in many "good" themed religions, philosophies, and cultural ideals all the way into the 20th century. Even now, there are many societies (or at least cultural majorities within that society) that embrace slavery as a form of rehabilitation for criminals (see Prison Labor Camps, Private Prisons, and Work Release Programs), and therefore consider it to be a "good" thing if used carefully.

Furthermore, even though we know that animals are sentient and possess some level of human intelligence (long term memory, psychological development, language comprehension/communication, empathy, culture, and symbol/image association) at least on par with that of infants and toddlers, up to that of a young child (in the cases of simians, some birds, cephalopods, and many aquatic mammals), we still see no problem with buying and selling them as property, giving them (at best) 2nd class rights. The punishment for the abuse and neglect of these creatures is far less than the punishment of a similar crime to a human, and yet, as a worldwide culture, we are not likely to balk at that.

Of course, I'm not trying to directly compare animals with slaves. But it's a safe statement to make that at one time (in every nation built on a slave labor... which was literally all living great nations), slaves were considered to be no better than animals. I can produce a long list of appalling quotes from renowned leaders of history, whom we respect (who casually proclaim this sentiment) upon demand if we all wish to throw up in our mouths.

So really, it depends on the setting the DM has established. Is it in a setting where slavery is Evil? Is it Lawful to own slaves? If that groundwork isn't established, then a debate is pointless. If the groundwork is established, then there is really no debate.

After discussing this with my wife (because it is an incredible thought experiment) she came to the conclusion that the act would most likely be Chaotic Good, but could be Chaotic Neutral.

Chaos: In the theme of freedom (see Paladin of Freedom from Unearthed Arcana D&D 3.5)
Good: In the theme of concern for the dignity of sentient beings.
Neutral: In the theme of risking one life to save many.

The Neutral theme was the hardest to pin down. But the description of the act shows that the Paladin is willing to risk the life of a slave without directly harming the slave.

Quote:
Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
-SRD
Quote:
People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others.
-SRD

She makes, in my mind, a pretty strong case. It's far less circumstantial than my argument, as well. Thought I don't believe it inherently makes my argument wrong, it does make a strong case on its own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwosquid View Post
Would it be considered evil for a paladin to liberate a slave by buying it then using said slave to infiltrate the slave trade and disrupt it
For me, and I think most deities of Pathfinder, DnD, what have you - as well as most GMs - but gracious ask yours 1st. I would think it would depend on what "using said slave to..." meant / looked like / sounded like / how it played out. If it's - "I own you know, and here's what you will do or else." Then... weird as all get out. And ... ya not Good. If it's - "You are free. Now, would you join me please in disrupting the horrible practice of buying and selling people?" Then, sounds Good to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by inexorabletruth
I don't think this would cause any alignment shifts. I'd call it a Caution Flag situation. It really depends on how he plays this out.

BEFORE I GO ON, I AM AGAINST SLAVERY. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.
When I first read this, I thought you were suggesting that the Paladin could maintain his Goodness by shouting this statement while purchasing the slave.

For the record, I would love any player that did this as a paladin while buying a slave to free him/her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mildly_competent View Post
When I first read this, I thought you were suggesting that the Paladin could maintain his Goodness by shouting this statement while purchasing the slave.

For the record, I would love any player that did this as a paladin while buying a slave to free him/her.
Upon reading your take on my post, I laughed so hard my roommate checked on me to make sure I wasn't having a seizure.







 

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