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Inactive Forums => Wicked Press => Topic started by: John Wick on July 10, 2001, 09:41:00 AM



Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 10, 2001, 09:41:00 AM
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John, you've just put yourself out there for me.  You said EVIL (as opposed to evil).  I look over Obsidian, and Kult, and Unknown Armies, and In Nomine Satanis, and I smile.  They did their duty (well, Unknown Armies is the weak one of the bunch).  
So, uh, John... when you say EVIL, do you really mean it?  If so, you've already sold one copy.


I'm moving this conversation from the LINE ART IN CAUSOBAN forum. It fits better over here.

Yes, ELFWORLD is all about EVIL. Every game I've written so far (from Hunters Inc. to Orkworld) has been about the Hero. L5R was about the Eastern Hero, who submerges his identity in his role, sacrificing individuality for the good of society. 7th Sea was exactly the opposite: the western hero who lives by his own individual code of ethics, flying in the face of accepted societal convention. Orkworld was about desperate heroism, fighting a battle that's already been lost.

Elfworld is about Villains. Really, really bad people. I can't even begin to tell you how nasty the elves in Elfworld are.

When I say "Enslave entire planets," I mean it. When I say "Kill an enemy with his own pleasure," I mean it. You'll see what I mean soon.

Take care,
John


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Dav on July 11, 2001, 05:43:00 AM
John:

That makes me happy as Hell.

One thing that has always concerned me in evil games has been the "pulling back" of the author(s) in terms of letting it fly.  Kult even did this with their Mental Balance principle.  While the Mental Balance was truly amazing, it was never fully developed to the extent it could have been.  Disappointing, in the end.

I *do* enjoy evil that is predicated on the principle that at one point (whether still valid or not), the evil needed to commit these atrocities to survive.  The Baali in everyone's favorite system started to head this direction, but were ultimately given the redemption slot of "they still need to do bad to bring about the greater good".  No siree-bob.  

If we are looking at evil, why not go whole-hog and let us experience the pit of creation (as it seems you are pointing toward with Elfworld).  I enjoy an evil that no longer requires it, it merely continues with the evil to amuse itself in the off moments.  

To calm the whirlwind, let me ask:  how do you see Elfworld being run in a sustained campaign arena (if indeed you do)?

Also, can we look forward to some more damn-fine fiction and stories that made Orkworld so much fun to read?  

Dav


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on July 11, 2001, 12:56:00 PM
OK, between Dav's post and an interview I heard on NPR while driving in to work (the world is a strange place), various bits of philosophic knowledge are creeping back into my brain.  I recall one distinction, between Evil that can be explained through various twists of "Free Will" (e.g., the possibilty of child-beating must exist to preserve Free Will) vs "Natural" (e.g., disease, disaster, etc.) Evil.  hmm . . . sounds like this was probably a Christian exploration of "why does God allow Evil?" - not sure how useful that is in Elfworld.  But let me run with it a bit anyway . . . to the other inhabitants of the Elf-verse (sounds like Elfworld ranges far beyond the planet of Orkworld), the Elves may well occur as a "force of nature", a natural evil one must simply deal with.  But what about the Elves themselves?  Is it simply that they ARE Evil, or that they've chosen Evil?

And the real question, it seems to me, is what is the hook for the PLAYERS here?  What about Evil will they be developing/exploring/learning/experiecing/whatever in the game that interests them?  There may be an audience for a "let's see just how Evil I can be" game, but it isn't me - Elfworld might still be worth reading if that's what it is, but I'd never play it.  Perhaps Evil is irrelevant to an Elf?  Maybe there's essentially nothing so bad to an Elf that they'd even consider letting it stand between them and what they want (a long term goal, a cheap thrill, to relieve the boredom, whatever)?

Then we just need something ELSE that they do care about, and see what Evil looks like in the reflection of that something else . . .

Gordon C. Landis


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 11, 2001, 01:15:00 PM
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On 2001-07-11 16:56, Gordon C. Landis wrote:
OK, between Dav's post and an interview I heard on NPR while driving in to work (the world is a strange place), various bits of philosophic knowledge are creeping back into my brain.  I recall one distinction, between Evil that can be explained through various twists of "Free Will" (e.g., the possibilty of child-beating must exist to preserve Free Will) vs "Natural" (e.g., disease, disaster, etc.) Evil.  hmm . . . sounds like this was probably a Christian exploration of "why does God allow Evil?" - not sure how useful that is in Elfworld.  But let me run with it a bit anyway . . . to the other inhabitants of the Elf-verse (sounds like Elfworld ranges far beyond the planet of Orkworld), the Elves may well occur as a "force of nature", a natural evil one must simply deal with.  But what about the Elves themselves?  Is it simply that they ARE Evil, or that they've chosen Evil?

And the real question, it seems to me, is what is the hook for the PLAYERS here?


For me, roleplaying games have always been philosophical exercises. I mean, Task Resolution Systems are nothing more than metaphysical proposals. From head to toe, they are an expression of the game designer: "I think the world works like this." From emphasising some traits over others, hit point systems vs. wound systems, alignment, class and traits and skills are all expressions.

Likewise, the L5R Way of... books were philosophical expressions. Each Clan is one side of a multi-faceted jewel, and you use that jewel to look at HONOR. Each Clan sees bushido differently. For the Crab, bushido is all about courage. For the Crane, bushido is all about excellence. For the Dragon, bushido is all about... well, it's different for everybody.

For the Scorpion, bushido was all about loyalty. But the Scorpion book is about more than just loyalty. For me, it was about presenting a very specific notion: that good and evil are all in the eye of the beholder. Good and evil really don't matter: they're both tools; means to a greater end.

Elfworld is no different. It's an opportunity for me (and you) to tell stories using a specific theme: what is "evil?"

This concept is addressed in the Elves section of ORKWORLD, which I'll put up on the Elfworld web page right quick, so we can all talk about it.

In a nutshell:

I took a look at Tolkien's elves and saw:

1) They're immortal
2) They're more powerful than anything else on the planet
3) They reincarnate when they (choose to) die

Which led me to this question: Why in the world would a race who was all-powerful and immortal be so beneficent?

They wouldn't be. Therefore, the elves of Orkworld aren't. They enslave entire worlds for their pleasure. They play impossibly complicated Machiavellian games that take centuries to play out, usually ending in humiliation and death.

Everything is a weapon to use against your enemy, and anyone who can hurt you is an enemy. Everything else is a tool.

With all that in mind, the reason people want to play Elfworld is easy:

It is the ULTIMATE power-gamer game.
You can do ANYTHING.

While playtesting it at Kublai-Con, one of the players whispered to me: "You know, this rule is broken."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it's so easily abuseable."

"Then abuse it," I told him.

"But, it's broken."

"No. I designed it that way. To be abused that specific way."

I had to explain this to him all night. He never got it. The whole system is full of loopholes for power-gamers to exploit. I WANT them to exploit it.

Because their enemies (the GM and other players) can exploit it, too.

Thanks for the questions, and keep the discussion going!


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on July 11, 2001, 01:18:00 PM
I played Elfworld.  The Aelves are amoral, godlike beings.  If they want something to happen, it just does.  So there's a strong kinship with Vampire: the Masquerade and Amber there.

Of course, I wouldn't call the Aelves villains...not at all.  They just have a society that's very much in the mode of "survival of the fittest."  So they have no laws (because as John pointed out, laws exist primarily to protect the weak from the strong).

It strikes me as a very competitive game...lots of intrigue and backstabbing.


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: greyorm on July 11, 2001, 01:27:00 PM
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Which led me to this question: Why in the world would a race who was all-powerful and immortal be so beneficent?

They wouldn't be.

I disagree with that contention based on knowledge both scientific and philosophical, there's every reason they should be, but I digress.

I've been interested in Elfworld since I saw you mention these nasty boys in the Orkworld development column; and the system you've just mentioned sounds utterly intriguing; can't wait.


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 11, 2001, 02:56:00 PM
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On 2001-07-11 17:27, greyorm wrote:
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Which led me to this question: Why in the world would a race who was all-powerful and immortal be so beneficent?

They wouldn't be.

I disagree with that contention based on knowledge both scientific and philosophical, there's every reason they should be


"knowledge both scientific and philosophical"? Explain that, please.


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Dav on July 12, 2001, 05:49:00 AM
Beneficient based upon philosophical argument is not something one wants to put forth.  For every philosophy that says that charity is the pinnacle of power, I can point to one that says the opposite.  Philosophy is such an abstract point that to use it in defense of anything is much like saying, "I say so."

That aside, scientific standpoints have no true bearing upon this issue as science, by pure concept, does not take the concept of good and evil into account.  It can't.  The downfall of all concrete and evidentiary-based studies is that they cannot deal with a non-quantifiable intangible.  Besides, having only one study group of "intelligent" beings from which to draw conclusions, even the most lenient scientist is going to be leery about drawing conclusions based upon ALL possible intelligences that may exist.  Besides (to illustrate the flaws of paragraph 1), many philosophical beliefs are based around the fact that mankind is amoral and selfish.  Ethical egoism, which is, by far, the most widely practiced and exemplified ethical standpoint, states this as a defining factor to the entire ethical standpoint.

Even setting these aside, it is a strong argument that as mankind develops further into a technological and "advnaced" civilization, that violence and generally "evil" practices are not becoming more and more mainstream.  Evil grows with knowledge, then, becomes a very defensible and sound argument.

All this aside, evil is what makes the world go 'round.  Money is great, sex is great, and instinct has brought down a civilization as well.  However, in the end, nothing pushes mankind to excel quite as much as the threat of evil.  Looking at history, every time a new powerful weapon is developed, and the threat of death looms over us all, mankind suddenly bursts forth with a thousand things to stop it, then takes those thousand things and learns of a thousand ways to utilize each new advance in manners not warlike.  

(This, by the way, is one of my reasons for the "pave the rainforest" campaign... coddling us in a working ecosystem is making us stagnant)

Dav (who loves evil more than caffiene)


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 12, 2001, 03:00:00 PM
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On 2001-07-12 09:49, Dav wrote:
Beneficient based upon philosophical argument is not something one wants to put forth.  For every philosophy that says that charity is the pinnacle of power, I can point to one that says the opposite.  Philosophy is such an abstract point that to use it in defense of anything is much like saying, "I say so."


Can I sum up that paragraph with the sentement: "Nobody can prove or disprove a philosophical argument?"

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That aside, scientific standpoints have no true bearing upon this issue as science, by pure concept, does not take the concept of good and evil into account.


I don't differentiate philosophy and science the way you do. Science is philosophy: the search for truth. The scientific method was invented by a philosopher for that very reason.

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It can't.  The downfall of all concrete and evidentiary-based studies is that they cannot deal with a non-quantifiable intangible.


That's assuming "evil" and "good" are nonquantifiable. I don't think they are.

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Besides, having only one study group of "intelligent" beings from which to draw conclusions, even the most lenient scientist is going to be leery about drawing conclusions based upon ALL possible intelligences that may exist.


I think human beings come in enough different flavors that we can look at the 326 (at current count) different cultures' definitions of good and evil (and not all of them even agree they exist; which makes them even more fascinating studies).

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Besides (to illustrate the flaws of paragraph 1), many philosophical beliefs are based around the fact that mankind is amoral and selfish.  Ethical egoism, which is, by far, the most widely practiced and exemplified ethical standpoint, states this as a defining factor to the entire ethical standpoint.


Not at all. Most of the Biggies agree that mankind is inherantly good. The biggest ("Big N": the Man Everyone Quotes and Nobody Reads)doesn't even believe in good or evil, providing sound arguments against the entire notion.

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Even setting these aside, it is a strong argument that as mankind develops further into a technological and "advnaced" civilization, that violence and generally "evil" practices are not becoming more and more mainstream.  Evil grows with knowledge, then, becomes a very defensible and sound argument.


Your first sentence disagrees with your second sentence. "'evil' practices are not becoming more... mainstream" and "evil grows with knowledge" can't both be a "strong argument"s.

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All this aside, evil is what makes the world go 'round.  Money is great, sex is great, and instinct has brought down a civilization as well.


That's assuming that greed, sex and instinct are evil. I don't. I've got things much more EVIL in mind.

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However, in the end, nothing pushes mankind to excel quite as much as the threat of evil...


Can't disagree with that.

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(This, by the way, is one of my reasons for the "pave the rainforest" campaign... coddling us in a working ecosystem is making us stagnant)


Uh... okay.

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Dav (who loves evil more than caffiene)


But how much does EVIL love you?
We'll have to see. :wink:




[ This Message was edited by: John Wick on 2001-07-12 19:02 ]


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: greyorm on July 12, 2001, 10:12:00 PM
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"knowledge both scientific and philosophical"? Explain that, please.

Alright, but only since you asked (and note I'm grossly simplifying things here, so I hope Ron doesn't ride my ass too badly about it):

Firstly, life supports cooperative, beneficial endeavors even at the most basic level.  Cellularly, our bodies require other cells in order to survive; requiring those cells means that nothing must ever happen to those other cells.  Basic cooperation; no intent to betray or injure other cells of the organism is ever desired/programmed.

In fact, the whole organism protects all its pieces, whether the piece doing the protection is the one under attack, it takes hits for other structures.

Frex: The skull and tissues take blows to protect the brain; this developed for a reason, and it isn't because the brain is the center of being...before there was a brain, the cells "decided" (ahem) to protect the central system of communication and regulation for a bunch of disparate creatures that got together to form multi-cellular beings, or multi-being beings.  Later, the comm system became the center of a more advanced singular being made up of a bunch of previously seperate parts.

There is also the protective skin layer, the immune system and so forth.

Now on to studies of behavior in higher order lifeforms -- particularly the more intelligent animals: primates, dolphins, wolves and similar.  These have shown that it is not competition that drives them, but cooperation and social empathy.
That sick individuals of a pack, clutch or whatever are not left to starve, fend for themselves or otherwise picked on, abandoned or killed by the stronger, healthier members.

Instead, they are cared for, tended to and helped, though the ones doing so cannot be said to be doing so out of selfishness, rather altruism of a most basic sort, arising from primitive empathy.  Further, in many cases this even extends to injured individuals not of their pack or species.

To deal with the obvious counter: why is it not selfishness?
The creatures behaving this way do not have the powers of perceptive foresight which would allow them to conceive of future benefit or gain from current actions which do not immediately give rise to such; selfisheness is based on benefit -- there is no perceived, personal benefit to the altruist animal for their actions.


BTW, the above information on primate and other species behavior comes from a number of sources, including speakers from Nobel Conference XXXII, "Apes at the End of an Age," October '96.

Of particular note on this subject were Frans B.M. de Waal, from the Yerkes Primate Research Center, also of Emory University; and Duane Rumbaugh, Regents Prof. of Psychology and Biology, PhD in General Expiremental Psychology, Inaugural G. Stanley Hall Lecturer on Comparitive Psychology for the APA (1984), President of APA division on Comparitive and Physiological Psychology (1988), President of Southern Society on Philosophy and Psychology (1995); 38 years in his field, including time at San Diego State, Emory U's Yerkes Research Center, and 25 years at Georgia State and assorted others (such as the world-recognized authority on orangutans), all top-level researchers in the field.  I mention this to illustrate the quality of the individuals presenting this information.

I can dig out the other sources with some time and effort, but I will just add that my opinions, in total, arise from a year's worth of Honors-level research, and continued study of the subject (and as Ron knows, biology was not my major, but various subjects within it were the focus of my Honors projects).


Further, to advance the point of altruism and intellect, as can be demonstrated, any intelligent or semi-intelligent species has "empathy," here defined as the ability to perceive the world from another's vantage point, as this talent is an evolutionary requirement for intellect.

To wit, for predators, if you cannot understand your prey, you won't be able to deal with it as effectively.
For social predators, if you cannot understand your packmates, you will not be able to hunt with them as effectively.

So the two routes to intellect: understanding of prey and understanding of fellows (primates rarely "hunt", like wolves or lions, but their social interactions necessitate empathy...wolves have both hunting and social systems).

That empathic understanding also indicates a seperation of self from envrionment, the glimmer of realization that there is you and there is stuff that is not you.

Intelligence describes the ability to comprehend the world and see how it works; intelligence requires empathy.  Empathy entails being able to feel like or view the world from the position of not-self; for any social species, it also entails the ability to respond to fellow creatures with compassion without view of personal gain.

Basic, successful life is structured on cooperation, and as it gains more intelligence and power and socialization, it becomes more inclined to cooperate and behave altruistically due to empathy.

I see no compelling biological reason that an intelligent species, even a powerful and immortal one, would be unequivocally selfish and malevolent.
Now, it is your game and you can do what you want with it, I'm just responding to your contention that it is fact an all-powerful, immortal race would lack compassion or empathy.

However, what I'd really like from you in response is why you see that such things (immortality, sheer power) would infer they would be un-nice to anything else; it doesn't follow for me (power does not equate malevolence; intelligent species are predatory).  Care to explain?


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Dav on July 12, 2001, 10:32:00 PM
John: "Can I sum up that paragraph with the sentiment: "Nobody can prove or disprove a philosophical argument?""

Dav: Yes, that *would* be a much less wordy method of stating the entire paragraph.

John: I don't differentiate philosophy and science the way you do. Science is philosophy: the search for truth.

Dav: Do what thou wilt

John: That's assuming "evil" and "good" are nonquantifiable. I don't think they are.

Dav: *That* would be a fun flowchart.

John: I think human beings come in enough different flavors that we can look at the 326 (at current count) different cultures' definitions of good and evil (and not all of them even agree they exist; which makes them even more fascinating studies).

Dav: That is still taking from one core sample.  Similar to taking sampling distributions of tree heights of a specific breed within a single forest.  Most would argue that the sampling is biased, and no statistical data could be gathered to pertain to societies outside said forest.  It is a niggling point, agreed, but still one that I cling to.

John: Not at all. Most of the Biggies agree that mankind is inherantly good. The biggest ("Big N": the Man Everyone Quotes and Nobody Reads)doesn't even believe in good or evil, providing sound arguments against the entire notion.

Dav: Agreed, but in my opinion, Nietsche fails to then fill that void created by removing a "moral compass" (a much more modern term, I agree) from the ethical standpoint.  Nihilism, as a belief, is not replacing god or morality, it is just renaming them.  That, as a core belief, leaves much to be desired, to my mind.  The man issues an empty statement (ethically and philosophically), then wonders why no one argues.

John: Your first sentence disagrees with your second sentence. "'evil' practices are not becoming more... mainstream" and "evil grows with knowledge" can't both be a "strong argument"s.

Dav: Yeah, take out the "not"... I'm not sure what I was doing while I typed that line.  "Not" shouldn't be a part of it at all.

John: That's assuming that greed, sex and instinct are evil. I don't. I've got things much more EVIL in mind.

Dav: I was using chiasmus there.  I know, I should replace the "However" with a "But" on the next line to illustrate and lend comparison.  My fault, I need editing...



All-in-all, I agree with most of your views, from a spectator standpoint.  We two just live by different morals in life (which is good... um, evil... you get the idea).  Must be that crazy California sun :wink:

Dav

 


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: greyorm on July 12, 2001, 10:45:00 PM
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(This, by the way, is one of my reasons for the "pave the rainforest" campaign... coddling us in a working ecosystem is making us stagnant)

I have to ask: the opposite of stagnation is obviously progress.  What's so great and wonderful about progress?

I know, all you modern folks are stunned, "Why progress is the best thing ever!"  But there's nothing inherently good or better about progress than stagnation, that makes it the absolute best reached-for goal.
No, suddenly failing to progress technologically or scientifically will not impair us nor is it a horrid sin or a terrible tragedy.
Progress for the sake of progress is...idiotic.

BTW, "Pave the Rainforest"...Did a web-search on that "movement."  Looks like typical reactionary idiocy to me, trying to cover itself up in the maskings of rational, sensical thought.

Yep, that's it exactly...here's what they say: "survival of the fittest" as a social/species right?  "Because that's how nature works.  Anything that dies, too bad."  Someone needs to go back to school.

Oh, and "junkscience.com" (you know, because some loudmouthed conservative right-winger didn't have anything better to do than try to hype up his opinion in supposed scientific fact...apparently smoking isn't bad for you!..next we'll be hearing Bible quotes and all about the righteousness of Manifest Destiny).

Well, Dav, you said your bit on it, there's mine. :smile:

(Next...I'm only responding to the following part because I think it ties into John's claim about Elfworld being about EVIL.)

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Dav (who loves evil more than caffiene)


Then I really hope you think caffiene is a hideous pit of seething darkness.

Evil isn't a cool thing; evil isn't a fun thing; evil isn't a mildly acceptable thing.

Liking evil is saying you like pedophiles, you like Nazis, you like racists, you like people who walk into department stores and blow people's heads off, you like child abusers, you like serial killers, you like terrorists and hearing about people killed in bombings, you like causing people pain and suffering and enjoy it when people are in agony.

Evil isn't "cool", it's sick, it's destructive, it is EVIL.  I know Darth Maul is soooo coool though, and being a blood-drinking goth Vampire is just so awesome and emotionally powerful...because it is counter-cultural; evil is cool, evil is dangerous and rebellious.  Sounds more like evil is a buzzword for stupid teenagers.

How do you accept someone saying they like evil -- think about that -- and how would you react to someone responding by telling the person to take their sick ass and get the hell out?
Think about that.

The first seem more acceptable than the second.  It shouldn't.

If I were to say, "I like watching little girls being raped," what would you say or do?  I'd hope you'd cringe and feel utter disgust and threaten me with violence because that thing if I were to say it is evil, that sort of thing is what evil is about.
There's something likable about that?  Acceptable about that?

Would you casually support someone saying the above statement?  Didn't think so.  So why casually support someone saying they like evil?  Why not tell them to get the hell out and never return?

If you'd let them stick around, I'd say you don't have kids; and I'd say you've never been a victim of evil, that you don't even know what the word means because you've been blinded by modern culture's overuse of it.

I truly doubt most of the people today who bandy the word around like some sort of counter-cultural mark of prestige even remotely understand what evil is.

Lock them up as though they're a child with an abusive parent for a few years and then let's see how cool they think evil is.  Strap them to a table and let some sick fuck do as they please to them and let's see how cool evil is.

John says Elfworld is about EVIL, well, we'll see.

If John can make a decent game about real evil, it will make a lot of people uncomfortable; good, real evil needs to be thrown in their faces to wake them up.  And it should make those who think evil is cool even more uncomfortable.

Evil isn't cool, it isn't likable.
Neither are Nazis or the death camps.
Or torture victims and their torturers.


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 13, 2001, 09:22:00 AM
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Firstly, life supports cooperative, beneficial endeavors even at the most basic level.


Oh...
So that's why animals fight and kill for mating rights?
(Sarcasm. Sorry.)

Gotta disagree with you there. The Sad Truth of Life is this:

1) If you do not eat, you die.
2) You must eat life to live.
3) Therefore, you must kill to live.

Life and living is all about conflict, and the Strong eating the Weak.

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Now on to studies of behavior in higher order lifeforms -- particularly the more intelligent animals: primates, dolphins, wolves and similar.  These have shown that it is not competition that drives them, but cooperation and social empathy.


Every animal feeds on another animal to live.
If you can show me "cooperation" between dolphins and the meat they eat, I'll buy your argument.

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That sick individuals of a pack, clutch or whatever are not left to starve, fend for themselves or otherwise picked on, abandoned or killed by the stronger, healthier members.


I'll be there are fewer species who protect their sick than those that leave them behind.
I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.

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BTW, the above information on primate and other species behavior comes from a number of sources, including speakers from Nobel Conference XXXII, "Apes at the End of an Age," October '96.


Appeals to authority are the #3 most used non-valid argument technique, and they don't save you from being wrong. :wink:

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Further, to advance the point of altruism and intellect, as can be demonstrated, any intelligent or semi-intelligent species has "empathy," here defined as the ability to perceive the world from another's vantage point, as this talent is an evolutionary requirement for intellect.


I'll agree with your definition of "empathy." (It's a good one, too.)

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To wit, for predators, if you cannot understand your prey, you won't be able to deal with it as effectively.
For social predators, if you cannot understand your packmates, you will not be able to hunt with them as effectively.


Hm... maybe I don't agree with your definition of empathy. I prefer to use the Socratic definition of: ability to sympathize with others. Hannibal Lector can think like other people, but it's because he can't feel what they feel that makes him a sociopath. Just because the wolf can think like the deer doesn't mean it sympathizes with it when it rips its throat out.

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So the two routes to intellect: understanding of prey and understanding of fellows (primates rarely "hunt", like wolves or lions, but their social interactions necessitate empathy...wolves have both hunting and social systems).


That's because nearly all primates are herbivores rather than carniverous predators. Isn't it because man is an omnivore that he hunts?

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That empathic understanding also indicates a seperation of self from envrionment, the glimmer of realization that there is you and there is stuff that is not you.


Socrates called that "Courage." The ability to recognize that some things in the world are bigger than you. He also claimed that man was the only creature capable of "Courage." From my own observations, I tend to agree. I don't think animals have the capability to "Empathize." When an ape child dies, the mother carries it around for days, completely unable to recognize the child is dead. Eventually, it leaves the child behind. The ape mother shows no signs of mourning or grief. That's because apes don't know or understand death. They understand danger, but the concept of "He was here, and now he's not here anymore" just escapes them.

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Intelligence describes the ability to comprehend the world and see how it works; intelligence requires empathy.  Empathy entails being able to feel like or view the world from the position of not-self; for any social species, it also entails the ability to respond to fellow creatures with compassion without view of personal gain.


I think that's a very limited definition of intelligence. Because I don't agree with the definition, I won't make any arguments in that direction.

(It's too hard to argue on the internet. There's no chance to define terms.)

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Basic, successful life is structured on cooperation, and as it gains more intelligence and power and socialization, it becomes more inclined to cooperate and behave altruistically due to empathy.


I completely disagree with your premise. There are thousands of species on this planet that don't have any kind of "social structure."

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I see no compelling biological reason that an intelligent species, even a powerful and immortal one, would be unequivocally selfish and malevolent.
Now, it is your game and you can do what you want with it, I'm just responding to your contention that it is fact an all-powerful, immortal race would lack compassion or empathy.
However, what I'd really like from you in response is why you see that such things (immortality, sheer power) would infer they would be un-nice to anything else; it doesn't follow for me (power does not equate malevolence; intelligent species are predatory).  Care to explain?


Hundreds of thousands of crimes are committed every day? Why? Because people believe they can get away with it.

If I passed a law tomorrow that said: "Every crime comitted on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday shall, from now on, be punished with capital punishment ONLY" what percentage of crimes do you think would be comitted on a Friday?

How about 0%?

Give people the opportunity to do evil, and they will. Give people the opportunity to do good... and they generally won't. (I said "generally." I don't want to discuss exceptions.)

The point is this: if given a ring of invisibility, we'd all do good and evil with it. We'd stop crime, we'd stop a rape or two, we'd kill mob bossess...

And we'd probably walk into a bank and steal a million dollars. Why not? Who's gonna miss it? The bank? And I did stop that rapist, and help the police with that serial killer... I deserve a little payback, don't you think?

Don't think like yourself (empathy, remember?). Think like Joe Genero. If you gave an invisibility ring to the people on Jerry Springer, do you think they'd do good or evil with it? How about your average college jock? How about your cliche lawyer or politician (there's a reason cliches exist). You think Bill Clinton would do good with that ring? How about Bush? What do you think Jessie Ventura would do with it?

In short, what would you do with it? And be honest.

If you give someone the power of a god... they'll probably act like your average god. Like Yawah for instance.

He created life... that wasn't as powerful as he was.
He created a world... that didn't have enough food or resources to last.
He created good... and evil.

You give people enough power, they hang themselves with it.

All right, I've babbled enough on this one. If you want to read more, go check out the Elfworld page. The chapter on Orkworld Elves is there, with more details on why they're so BAD.

And thanks for the discussion. It's nice to see respectful disagreement on the web. It's refreshing.

Take care,
John


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 13, 2001, 09:28:00 AM
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John says Elfworld is about EVIL, well, we'll see.

If John can make a decent game about real evil, it will make a lot of people uncomfortable; good, real evil needs to be thrown in their faces to wake them up.  And it should make those who think evil is cool even more uncomfortable.


Damn skippy. You got the nail right on the head.

Take care,
John


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Dav on July 13, 2001, 09:43:00 AM
Raven:

There's a whole lot to respond to in this, so bear with me while I attempt to organize it in an at least mildly comprehensible format.

1) Pave the rainforest.  I had no idea it was an actual popular and literal movement.  This is just something I do in my own area and in my own time -- a hobby, not some group-thing with a manifesto.  I am not associated with anything that has websites and rallies and anything really organized in that sense.  Kinda weird.  I'll have to check this out to see what the hell is going on.

2) Progress for the sake of progress is not idiotic.  You see, there is this idea... widespread really... Hell, I don't know many people that haven't delved into it.  We call it religion, philosophy, ethics, take you pick.  Progress is, to me, the core trait that keeps me going.  I love progress.  I love clering away the old and ushering in the new.  I love popular culture, meme plagues, and anything that crests the wave of everyone's thoughts.  To say that progress is idiotic without an outside motivation is bizarre to me.  As Sartre would say, progress is being-in-itself, as opposed to being-for-itself.  But Sartre is a poor comparison for just about anything, so let's leave it at progress never needs justification.  As soon as you start to justify something, you taint that thing.  Why do I need to have a reason to do something?  It doesn't follow that a reason defines a thing for me.  A thing is a thing, and people fuck them up with rationalization and justification.  It ruins the inherent purity of the action to me.

3) There is a definite line between evil and insanity.  Period.  If you can't see that, we have a big problem in this discussion.  Violence, as an action, is neither good nor evil.  Hate is the same way.  "Good" beings are discriminatory against "evil" beings.  That puts them in the same boat as racists.  So what?  To say the Nazi Party is evil is ridiculous.  They are nationalists.  Yes, they went bugfuck crazy in WWII, but to say the political movement is evil is just wrong.  There were, indeed, evil people within the party at that time, and guiding that party.  Just as there have been evil popes, evil presidents, evil kings, evil everything.  That does not mean the entire organization is evil.  Himmler, Goebbels, Mengele, yes, *that* is evil.  Hitler, no.  

Child abusers, people who go "columbine", and the like are not evil.  They are fucked-up.  Evil would be trying to get away with it in a rational sense, and having a personal gain/fulfillment principle.  These people have no plans.  They are imbeciles.  Plenty of people trying to do good are imbeciles (um... Bush anyone?).  If Terrorists are evil, so is anyone that fights and dies for a belief.  That they choose suicidal means to fight their little wars is not evil, it is BAD PLANNING!  Herbert has a whole series of books about the downfall of fanatics.  Fanatics aren't evil, they are insane (obsessed).

People have this problem with attributing evil with violence.  Evil isn't violence.  Neither is EVIL.  Evil is a commitment to personal satisfaction and advancement at the expense of anything that gets in the way.  Evil is do what you have to and fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.  

Evil does not have to be violence or acts of physical pain (though that is not excluded as an option).  Evil can be your best friend.  Evil can be someone who is willing to bargain rather than murder/rape/kill because it is more expedient.  Evil doesn't mean you lose concept of consequences, it just means that all things are given attention and concern keeping in mind only two things:  "what is in it for me", and "what is the down side"?  Feelings of others, statements of belief, anything else, is not a factor unless it will, in the future, impede that person from continuing to experience happiness.

Evil is being on the winning side, because you always want to leave an out.  Evil is pulling a Gacy Motel if that is the best way to lay low.  

Evil is not psychopathic, evil is sociopathic.  

I don't even know what the hell you mean by vampires and buzzwords.  Vampires are people you only have to worry about half as often as most people.  

When I say I love evil... I mean it.  Period.  I'm not some dimwit with a hard-on for snuff flicks, I'm not some fool with my face painted white and hitting on fat chicks wearing black lace in smoky corners of hole-in-the-wall bars thinking I'm the new wave of cool.  Screw cool.  

I'm not a nice guy, I'm not sympathetic.  I am completely unconcerned with the suffering of others.  Yes, children are kidnapped, hurt, and other unfortunate things... They aren't my kids, and I don't know them.  

Evil is kick you when no one's looking and you're already down.  Not walk into Central Park and draw your guns.  I'm not cavalier, and my courage for violent situations is intrinsically linked to how confident I am that I can win.  

If that isn't evil tell me what it is, because that's where I stand in life.  

Dav  


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Dav on July 13, 2001, 09:50:00 AM
Raven, just to let you know, though I doubt you need it: This is all in the spirit of "cheerful argument" from my end.  I don't want to think that you are staring at your computer screen swearing at me though I may be hundreds of miles away.  If this is hitting you too close to where you live (I have no idea where you live), we can stop.  I don't want to start a flame-thing (whatever the Hell the appropriate term is).  Just let me know if this is going too far in your eyes.

Dav

(Still loving evil... 'cuz it loves him and gives him nice toys)


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 13, 2001, 10:30:00 AM
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Evil is kick you when no one's looking and you're already down.  Not walk into Central Park and draw your guns.  I'm not cavalier, and my courage for violent situations is intrinsically linked to how confident I am that I can win.  
If that isn't evil tell me what it is, because that's where I stand in life.  


I take it you don't have many friends, then? :wink:


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: JSDiamond on July 13, 2001, 11:13:00 AM
Respondong to Dav and Raven I offer this:
'Progress' doesn't necessarily have to mean advancing technology (or whatever).  Perhaps Dav means 'improvement' as an expression of progress.

Nazis and rascists suck.  No ground to defend there.

But evil is still a dead end.  Wick has already agreed with my point (in another post) that evil is akin to fuel. What I wonder is how this will play out in a game.  I think that you will *need* to have protaganists to make the evil elf characters matter.  Dav wants to play an evil elf (a la Wick).  But you will need the gm or another player to provide you with someone 'good' to play off of.

I doubt John Wick is re-writing something 'like Vampire only with pointed ears' or whatever.  Likely it will be very original and tough to define.  

1. Initially, you can't go with the 'fish out of water' thing if *everyone* is ultra evil.  So mark off that premise (because any Ork or Human worth his guts is going to slay 'em on sight).

2. These elves clearly aren't of the D&D variety so don't think this is going to be like D&D 'evil'.  Or Vampire for that matter, with people just hanging out socializing and making fun of mortals while dressed in the latest Hot Topic gear they bought with their mom's visa card.
       

So, when will we get more details?  I've been to your site four times this week.  I want to know more about Elfworld.

Jeff Diamond
Origins 2002 Game of the Year



 







   


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 13, 2001, 12:42:00 PM
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I think that you will *need* to have protaganists to make the evil elf characters matter.


Great cliche: Good needs evil and vice versa. Without one, the other cannot exist.

A cliche is an assumed truth. Everyone assumes its true without ever thinking about it.

Think about it for a while, then get back to me.

Take care,
John


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: JSDiamond on July 13, 2001, 01:35:00 PM
How is needing an antagonist cliche?  It could be anything and any theme, really.  In this case it just happens to be an emphasis of evil vs. good in Elfworld.

If it were Appleworld I'd be asking about the oranges.

Jeff Diamond
Click here for HOT ALIEN TEENS!

[ This Message was edited by: JSDiamond on 2001-07-13 17:58 ]


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Dav on July 13, 2001, 01:44:00 PM
All arguments set aside in regard to the nature of good/evil, I think that a need for an antagonist character may not be so powerful.  Rather, to support cliche: "evil feeds on evil".  Even in a group of elves.  

Wuthering Heights, Soap, and even Elfs (to a lesser degree) have a strong sense of antagonism that runs through the game without specifically requiring the "evil" empire to come tromping through.  The other PC's tend to give forth this nice little bit all by themselves.  I see Elfworld running that direction.

Elves may be the top of the food chain.  Which means that their antagonists are anything that they choose... which is great fun.  

Dav


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: greyorm on July 13, 2001, 02:32:00 PM
John,

A couple points for clarification:

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Life and living is all about conflict, and the Strong eating the Weak.

Every animal feeds on another animal to live.
If you can show me "cooperation" between dolphins and the meat they eat, I'll buy your argument.

Actually, John, this reason is specifically why I said "packmates" and not "prey", why I talked about social empathy, and spoke about the organism as itself, not about other organisms or groups outside the defined collective (species, society, organism).

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I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.

Social animals tend to be more "noble" in this sense that they won't run and leave their weak members to fend for themselves; most times, they won't leave a companion behind to be devoured and save themselves.

As an example, wolves will viciously defend their cubs from grizzly bears.  Do they have a chance against a grizzy?  Hel's skirt no, not individually, maybe as a large pack (it takes at least twelve wolves to bring down a grizzly).  They don't run, though, and leave the weak members behind.  They go at it and try to tear the thing's throat out until it gets the idea and goes away, or kills and eats them, or until the pups get to safety.

(Note, this is a generalization, some wolves are more or less cowardly, more or less devoted to the pack than others (just like humans in a social environment)...but it is still a valid generalization).

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Appeals to authority are the #3 most used non-valid argument technique, and they don't save you from being wrong. :wink:

[thunk!]  I can't win!  The last time I made this argument, I didn't quote my sources, so I was bitched at and called a lunatic with no real evidence to back up my claims.

I'm not appealing to authority with this, I'm citing sources.  It's only appeal when the argument's belivability hinges on who said it (otherwise every science book I have in my library is an appeal to authority...they all cite sources and build on known, trusted sources to confrim their arguments and data).

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I'll agree with your definition of "empathy." (It's a good one, too.)

Hm... maybe I don't agree with your definition of empathy. I prefer to use the Socratic definition of: ability to sympathize with others. Hannibal Lector can think like other people, but it's because he can't feel what they feel that makes him a sociopath. Just because the wolf can think like the deer doesn't mean it sympathizes with it when it rips its throat out.

I, too, use the Socratic definition of empathy normally, but that's why I pointed out that in this case I was specifically defining it only as an ability to perceive the world from another's perspective.

Sure, a wolf doesn't Socratically empathize with a deer it is eating (at least we assume so), but they can and do empathize with their packmates.

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From my own observations, I tend to agree. I don't think animals have the capability to "Empathize." When an ape child dies, the mother carries it around for days, completely unable to recognize the child is dead. Eventually, it leaves the child behind. The ape mother shows no signs of mourning or grief. That's because apes don't know or understand death. They understand danger, but the concept of "He was here, and now he's not here anymore" just escapes them.

Um, you're wrong, wrong, wrong. [grin]
Honestly, John, the above is completely not true.
Ape mothers will carry a dead child around for days out of emotional grief.

Ever lost a child, John?  If not, you probably can't understand where this comes from...the brain shuts down and latches onto keeping close as much of what has been lost as possible.
That's why if a human mother loses a child, usually she'll hang onto it unless they pry it out of her grip; sometimes human mothers even go a little batty and think the child is still alive, though they rationally know it to be otherwise.

Would you say "humans don't understand death because the parents of dead children keep the children's room exactly as it was when the child died and they talk to gravestones"?

Another note about this, wolf packs that lose members can and will shut down for days in depression as the pack tries to cope with the loss.
There was even an example a few friends pointed out to me a few years back, where pack being studied lost its omega and did not function for days, acting lethargic and snappy...in other words, they displayed all the symptoms of depression and grief.

In that vein, I've bred dogs for years.  We had one dog we'd bred whose owner died, big hulking thing (the dog, not the owner); it lay down and died itself, out of grief, out of the knowledge of the loss.

This is a common thing.  Animals DO, quite clearly, understand death and loss and feel grief.

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I think that's a very limited definition of intelligence. Because I don't agree with the definition, I won't make any arguments in that direction.

Obviously intelligence contains alot more than the simplistic definition I gave; but it was necesarily limited by the constraints of the discussion and argument.

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I completely disagree with your premise. There are thousands of species on this planet that don't have any kind of "social structure."

Hence why I said "...as it gains intelligence, power and socialization..."  It may be you skimmed alot of the important, defining criteria in some of what I wrote.

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Hundreds of thousands of crimes are committed every day? Why? Because people believe they can get away with it.

I'm afraid I disagree.  I think that is a terrible simplification of the issue.  People don't commit crimes simply because they think they can get away with it...there are complex cultural and social issues at work, as well as strong psychological ones brought out by those former issues.

That, in fact, is where I would agree that elven EVILness comes from...a social/cultural meme, not biological or psychological.

After all, if elves are just spirits inhabiting bodies, the biological urges of the body might still dominate...that could easily make a very interesting twist.
Sure, elves as spirits are utterly evil and corrupt, but they can't completely deny the biological realities and workings of the forms they inhabit.

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How about 0%?

People would still commit crime on those days.  There'd just be less...you said it yourself, "If they believe they can get away with it." or "If they're desperate enough."

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Give people the opportunity to do evil, and they will. Give people the opportunity to do good... and they generally won't.

I don't agree.  It was that I used to agree with that stance; but I don't anymore.  Unless either of us can cite a study, however, I think this is an area of "difference of opinion."

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And we'd probably walk into a bank and steal a million dollars. Why not? Who's gonna miss it? The bank? And I did stop that rapist, and help the police with that serial killer... I deserve a little payback, don't you think?

I hardly consider stealing money from a financial institution "evil", especially given the captialist, money-and-goods driven culture we live in.

Would I steal a million dollars from someone who could take the hit financially if I had the chance and there was no chance of me being caught or incriminated?

Let's see, my family has been in poverty before, I've experienced what it is like to not eat for a week (and not by my own choice), and money = less stress in this society...hrm, give me a minute...[whack] You'd better believe I would do it because it would ensure my family would survive and we'd never starve again.
And not only that, I could use the money to help other people in dire straits.

I'd never steal from someone who couldn't take that kind of hit, though...so, let's hope Bill Gates drops his pocketbook around me.

Keep in mind that I turned in a $50 at a gas station last month that someone thought was mine.  I denied it and gave it to the teller in case someone came back for it.  I could have desperately used the money, but I didn't take it because I don't know if the person who dropped it might have needed it more.

"Stealing = good/evil" is just too simplified.

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In short, what would you do with it? And be honest.

What would I do with it.  Good question...first, I'd take all the credit for Orkworld, then I'd...

Seriously, get me an invisibility ring and I'll tell you.

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If you give someone the power of a god... they'll probably act like your average god. Like Yawah for instance.

Yaweh is not your average God.  IMO, he's a petulant, overbearing child masquerading as a God.

Most Gods are far less petty, idiotic and masochistic.  I'll note that the Greek Gods are often petty, however; but the exception is not the norm.

Take a look at Norse and Teutonic mythology and how the Gods view and interact with their children; particularly Odin, Thor and the other Ase.

All-powerful Gods, particularly the High Father, and they treat their children the way any enlightened parent would..."Rise up and succeed me.  Here is my wisdom, here are my tools, learn to use them."

Odin sacrificed himself on the world tree to gain the power of the runes, then passed them out to his children to improve their lot.

He ain't no "Don't eat that fruit, I don't want you to be wise and immortal like me" kind of schmuck.

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You give people enough power, they hang themselves with it.

IMO, that depends on the person.

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All right, I've babbled enough on this one. If you want to read more, go check out the Elfworld page. The chapter on Orkworld Elves is there, with more details on why they're so BAD.

Me too; I'll definitely go do that, now!

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And thanks for the discussion. It's nice to see respectful disagreement on the web. It's refreshing.

Indeed.  Thank you!


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: greyorm on July 13, 2001, 03:09:00 PM
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Progress for the sake of progress is not idiotic.  You see, there is this idea... widespread really... Hell, I don't know many people that haven't delved into it...Progress is, to me, the core trait that keeps me going.  I love progress.  I love clering away the old and ushering in the new.

And?  What's so great about progress?
You like it...so?
Explain to me why progress is the best thing ever, why progress for the sake of progress is a good thing?

The above doesn't do that...I understand the sentiment (I used to think scientific advancement was our birthright and destiny).  But the above, and the defense in regards to "a thing is a thing", is simply restating, "We should progress because progress is good."

Yeah?  Prove it.

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"Good" beings are discriminatory against "evil" beings.  That puts them in the same boat as racists.

Hardly.  For what should be obvious reasons.

Further on, you pick nits on the Nazi issue, this is not constructive, so I'll avoid it as I also understand it.

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Child abusers, people who go "columbine", and the like are not evil.  They are fucked-up.  Evil would be trying to get away with it in a rational sense, and having a personal gain/fulfillment principle.  

You haven't worked much with or studied disturbed individuals, then.  They do rationalize it, they do get something personal out of it.  The actions are evil.

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That they choose suicidal means to fight their little wars is not evil,

You are aware that terrorists kill OTHER people, not themselves?

(or not just themselves)

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Evil is a commitment to personal satisfaction and advancement at the expense of anything that gets in the way.  Evil is do what you have to and fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.  

Yep, exactly.  Pretty perfectly describes everyone and everything I said.

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"what is in it for me", and "what is the down side"?  Feelings of others, statements of belief, anything else, is not a factor unless it will, in the future, impede that person from continuing to experience happiness.

What I said before about not understanding evil...you are talking about selfishness.  You are not really discussing evil.

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I don't even know what the hell you mean by vampires and buzzwords.  Vampires are people you only have to worry about half as often as most people.  

Read it again, then.

Vampires are evil, people play them because "evil" is a cool thing right now.  Vampires are cool because they're evil.  Evil is a buzzword that no one has a clue about the real meaning of and so they play around pretending they're linked to this thing called "evil."

That's what I'm talking about when I bring up vampires and buzzwords.  People wearing t-shirts that say "Evil Inside", when they don't have a real clue about evil.

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I'm not a nice guy, I'm not sympathetic.  I am completely unconcerned with the suffering of others.  Yes, children are kidnapped, hurt, and other unfortunate things... They aren't my kids, and I don't know them.

You're not evil, you're just not nice.  You're selfish and unempathic.  That's not evil.

Go experience some real evil in your life, then come back and tell me what kind of friend evil is.

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Evil is kick you when no one's looking and you're already down.

Like I said, enjoying suffering and pain, and even working to cause them.  If that's you, you're sad and pathetic; actually, you're disgusting.  Selfishness by itself is sad and pathetic.

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I'm not cavalier, and my courage for violent situations is intrinsically linked to how confident I am that I can win.

I didn't say evil was stupid.

BTW, don't get the idea that I'm swearing at my monitor or you.  I understand cheerful argument, but also understand that I find your position, and the position of evil, deplorable, so there's really no way to politely cushion my opinion!


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: greyorm on July 13, 2001, 03:11:00 PM
Quote

Great cliche: Good needs evil and vice versa. Without one, the other cannot exist.
A cliche is an assumed truth. Everyone assumes its true without ever thinking about it.

Evil doesn't need good to be evil.  Two evil beings can be evil to one another.


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on July 13, 2001, 04:16:00 PM
Uh, navel-gazing and point-by-point replies aside, I'm not sure that Elfworld is going to explore the concept of "evil" so much as provide for a fun way to stab people in the back, sow the seeds of discord and in general NOT play the hero (or even a particularly nice person) for a change.  Which is good.  But from what I know of it, it's not going to be Orkworld 'cept from the Alvsees' point of view.  I don't even think it takes place on Ghurtha (tho' if it does, this is the time for John to start bitch-slapping me). :smile:

- J


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on July 13, 2001, 06:23:00 PM
A few quick thoughts, mostly in support of greyorm.  First, my understanding of the scientific evidence in support of biological altruism (and Pug, are there a bunch of words there that each need a book to be clear about what is precisely meant by 'em) is that it is pretty strong.  Conclusive?  No.  But neither is the "Strong shall always prey on Weak" claim.  Second, on the ape mother . . . yes, John's description is wrong, wrong, wrong :wink:  Ignoring for the moment the difficulties involved in projecting human linguistic concepts onto a non-linguistic species, it is now generally accepted by those who study animal behavior that many species are entirely capable of "grieving".  My personal experience with animals matches this, and I'm REALLY wary about projecting human concepts onto non-human creatures.

I've lost track of what, exactly, this is telling us about Evil and Elfworld . . . oh, wait, the Strength vs. Weakness thing.  I re-read the Elf section of Orkworld last night, and on the one hand I found that whole bit marvelously exempleray of important principles of reality/behavior . . . but on the other hand, I found it lacking in depth and sophistication to really form the basis of Elf philosophy.  What if Steven King never got published  - was his struggle a sign of Strength or Weakness?  What about if he dies after getting word that his first book would be published?  What about if he died after the 10th?  After a widely-reviled 900th book deemed to be the latest failure from a once-promising author?

Anyway . . . I was going to say something about progress, too.  But it's time to leave.  I'm sure I'll be back, though - interesting thread, and I admire that everyone can discuss widely divergent viewpoints without blowing up.

Gordon C. Landis

[ This Message was edited by: Gordon C. Landis on 2001-07-13 22:25 ]


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: greyorm on July 13, 2001, 07:48:00 PM
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I've lost track of what, exactly, this is telling us about Evil and Elfworld

Nothing really, beyond the basis for elven evil; John asked a question about my disagreement with his contention in that regard, so I clarified.

What I think will really help define "evil" and maybe contribute (somehow) to the philosophy of Elfworld is how the discussion between Dav and I turns out, if it goes any further or needs to.
We apparently have slightly divergent views of what "evil" entails, but I think we're also shooting at the same target.

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interesting thread, and I admire that everyone can discuss widely divergent viewpoints without blowing up.


Me too.  I've said what I needed to in order to respond comprehensively enough, and hopefully been clear on my position, and at least partially on why I take it.
Nothing more really needs be said, as we'll all make up our seperate minds now.


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 14, 2001, 09:58:00 AM
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On 2001-07-13 20:16, Jared A. Sorensen wrote:
Uh, navel-gazing and point-by-point replies aside, I'm not sure that Elfworld is going to explore the concept of "evil" so much as provide for a fun way to stab people in the back, sow the seeds of discord and in general NOT play the hero (or even a particularly nice person) for a change.  Which is good.  But from what I know of it, it's not going to be Orkworld 'cept from the Alvsees' point of view.  I don't even think it takes place on Ghurtha (tho' if it does, this is the time for John to start bitch-slapping me). :smile:

- J



Well said, Jared.

And no, Elfworld doesn't take place on Ghurtha (although I'll include a chapter on how to do so).

And Jared, I don't need a reason to bitch slap you.

(Oops. Getting too far into character. Must back off....)

Take care,
John


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Uncle Dark on July 14, 2001, 08:17:00 PM
So, I was just over at John's site, reading the Elfworld page.  Wow.  Beautiful.  I can't wait to actually play...

And I started thinking about how evil my character could be.  A scene involving the torture and rape of a human prisoner, with the intention of creating a child for his next body.  The child will be pampered and cared for, educated, denied nothing.

Or so he said.  Actually, the whole thing is a disinformation scheme.  The new body is all prepped, and held somewhere else.  The kid, and all the elaborate preperation, is a red herring.

Then the thought occurred to me: What kind of sick bastard am I?  (Actually, I know the answer to that one...)

I thought about it, and it gelled with some other stuff I've been thinking.  I game to enact fantasies of power and control.  Not very original, I grant you, but bear with me.

I'm not talking about power-gaming here.  To me, power-gaming has always meant twisting the letter of the rules to gratify one's ego regardless of the wants and needs of the other players.  Screw them, who cares if they have fun, just so long as I get to do whay I want.

What I'm talking about is fantasies of Power.  Of being able to work my will, of haivng the world on my terms.  It's why I like GMing... a whole world (or more) set up just as I want it.  It's why I like Sorcerer and Amber and superhero games.

The difference is important.  I'm perfectly happy to screw over the other players' characters, but it would severly limit my enjoyment of the game to have to get paranoid about what the players are up to at the gaming table.

Which is getting to the point (About time!)-- John, when you talk about rules loopholes left for the players to exploit against each other, I got to worrying.  Just how much of the game is about players screwing each other, as opposed to characters screwing each other?  And will it run just as well with an agreement between players to not screw each other OOC?

Lon


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on July 14, 2001, 08:50:00 PM
I like your idea, but I would forgo the torture/rape stuff -- it's distasteful to me, and a little too human in its depravity.  No, I w ould do more of a "In the Company of Men" thing where I'd treat the human like a queen, profess my undying love, give her everything she asked for and then after the kid is born, dump her back in her village, naked and shivering with cold, ache and confusion...

After all, you have eternity...why get your hands dirty?  Minds are so much more pliable then weak old flesh (ick).


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Uncle Dark on July 14, 2001, 10:04:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-07-15 00:50, Jared A. Sorensen wrote:
I like your idea, but I would forgo the torture/rape stuff -- it's distasteful to me, and a little too human in its depravity.  


I thought about that.  The character in question would do it, not for any  joy in the specific
 act, but to keep mom around as an object lesson to the kid in what happens to the weak.  Part of the kid's training is an indoctrination into elf-philosophy.  He's going all the way with this, to make sure his enemies buy it.  And besides, it's always good to have backups.

I think that part of what I was getting at in the post is that the most depraved behavior of a character doesn't bother me much.  It gets back to the distinction that Ron drew between what characters feel about a situation and what the players feel about the situation.  The emotional power of the story rests on that distinction, and I think that crossing the amorality over from IC to OOC by encouraging players to cheat each other saps that strength.

Lon


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: kwill on July 18, 2001, 02:32:00 PM
http://sinfest.net/d/20010712.html



Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 19, 2001, 02:15:00 PM
Quote

The conclusion is incorrect in respect to Tolkien's elves.

They are what they are because they have no choice in the matter. The song of creation defines all they are and all they can be.


A quick question: does that mean nobody in Middle-Earth has freewill, or just the elves?


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: wyrdlyng on July 20, 2001, 11:52:00 AM
Just some quick thoughts on Evil:

Good and Evil are terms defined by a being's societal environment. In the animal kingdom there is no Good or Evil behavior. There is Live or Die.

In our society:
Evil is being selfish (choosing a course of action which will result in your personal gain or gratification without concern for the effects your action has upon others). Good is being selfless (choosing a course of action which will result in personal gain or gratification for another person, usually reached after some form of personal sacrifice).

Random acts of destruction and violence are not Evil. Actions with no "apparent" rhyme or reason which result in no "personal" gain to the initiator of the action are Chaotic, not Evil.

Frex: I pick up a rock and throw it at a stranger on an impulse. The target gets hit and suffers injury. I acted on an impulse and gain nothing from it. If the target had been someone I knew and had a grudge against then it would be Evil. Otherwise it's just random stupidity.

Another Frex: A hurricane comes, destroys my home and kills my dog. The hurricane had nothing to gain by destroying my home or killing my dog. It was an act of random chaos. If Dr. Zarod had created the hurricane with a machine and directed it to destroy me then it would have been an act of Evil.

Simplistic perhaps but sometimes we over-analyze things. Just my 2 cents.





Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: John Wick on July 20, 2001, 01:39:00 PM
Quote

Good and Evil are terms defined by a being's societal environment. In the animal kingdom there is no Good or Evil behavior. There is Live or Die.

I agree with this observation. "Good" and "Evil" require third level logic: thinking about thinking. Animals are incapable of abstract thought, and therefore, are incapable of either good or evil actions.

(A lot of people forget that; that because animals are incapable of doing "evil" also means they can't do "good," either.)

Quote

In our society:
Evil is being selfish...


I disagree with that statement. I do not think "evil" or "good" are so easily quantifiable.

Quote
Random acts of destruction and violence are not Evil. Actions with no "apparent" rhyme or reason which result in no "personal" gain to the initiator of the action are Chaotic, not Evil.


Ugh. D&D ethics structures do not work.
There are no "random" acts outside of a roleplaying game. The law of cause and effect kills that notion outright.

1. Every "effect" in nature has a "cause."
2. Human choice is an "effect"
3. Therefore, every human choice is "caused."

The only way to get around this is for human behavior to have a "super-natural" (beyond nature) source, which of course, is Freewill. But even then, nobody does anything for no reason at all. That's silly. As our below example...

Quote
Frex: I pick up a rock and throw it at a stranger on an impulse. The target gets hit and suffers injury. I acted on an impulse and gain nothing from it. If the target had been someone I knew and had a grudge against then it would be Evil. Otherwise it's just random stupidity.


The action is not random. The notion to pick up the rock is an impulse derrived from an earlier behavior-reward. "Picking up rocks makes me feel good," therefore, I pick up the rock. "Throwing the rocks at people makes me feel good," therefore, you throw the rock at someone.

There is a reason you threw the rock. Whether it is curiosity ("I wonder what will happen if I throw this rock...") or pleasure ("It will be cool to throw this rock...") or maliciousness ("It will hurt this guy to throw this rock..."), you had a reason to do it. Nobody does anything "on impulse." People behave according to external and internal stimuli... even if that stimuli is "freewill."

Quote
Another Frex: A hurricane comes...

Hurricanes don't make choices. People do.
You chose to pick up that rock.
You chose to aim it.
You chose to throw it.

There are probably ten more choices in there I just don't want to get into, but the fact of the matter is, they all lead up to you chosing to throw the rock. There's nothing chaotic at all about human behavior. And "chaotic" (in D&D terms) isn't about being "random," it's about choosing personal freedom over security. In other words, it's the belief that the rights of the individual are more important than the security of the community.

Quote
Simplistic perhaps but sometimes we over-analyze things.


"The truth is always simple. It's liars who want things complicated."
- Bayushi's "Lies" :smile:

Thanks for your input!

Take care,
John



[/quote]


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: greyorm on July 20, 2001, 09:46:00 PM
Quote

Animals are incapable of abstract thought...

*cough*

You'll know I disagree.  This whole ridiculous "animal" vs. "man", "instinct" vs. "thought" split is a simplistic and gross generalization and thus any arguments based on it are notably suspect for that reason (and I'm not even going to get into the "live" vs. "die" dualism again).

Honestly, this whole discussion of what "nature" really is or does are just empty appeals to "common knowledge" without any real solid backing to them, and sounds just as ridiculous as any other subject where similar circumstances are in effect.

(I suppose this will be complained at as "navel-gazing" or something equally horrid now...but hey, if someone wants to make a claim and argument, I have the damn right to response to their reasoning if it is wrong...otherwise this just becomes everyone sitting around belching out opinions and everyone nodding, "Yeah, we can all feel good about ourselves because everyone's opinions are equally valid.  Hey, don't rain on my sunny day with your oh-so-evil deconstructionism!", a situation which makes all discussion worthless)

All in all, with the rest I more or less agree.  Third-level logic and so on, the ability to conceptualize self/not self, human choice and so forth...I don't like to see bad premises touted, however, especially in regards to scientific disciplines where I know better.  I'm a real bastard about that.
_________________
Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
http://www.daegmorgan.net/
"Homer, your growing insanity is starting to bother me."

[ This Message was edited by: greyorm on 2001-07-21 01:49 ]


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Cameron on July 22, 2001, 03:57:00 PM
((After posting this, I realized that I had failed to read pages 2 and 3 of this thread. It's in response to something way back when. -Cameron))


"Psychopathic" and "sociopathic" are synonymous. Both imply an inability to operate within the realms of conventional morality (whatever that is).  Specifically, psychopathy is a condition featuring features of anti-social personality disorder plus the traits of "lack of empathy," "inflated self-appraisal," and "glib/superficial charm." Psychopathic does not imply the inability to take responsibility for one's actions because of a detatchment from reality, that's psychosis (or the legal term of "insanity," meaning that someone cannot stand trial because they aren't mentally capable of understanding what's going on).  Also "psychopathology" is the whole of abnormal behavior.

In my opinion, people suffering from psychosis are sick, not evil, although anthropomorphisizing "psychosis" would create something that could only be seen as EVIL.
 

_________________
-Cameron

"The ideal job for me is one that doesn't make me want to put a fork in my eye."

[ This Message was edited by: Cameron on 2001-07-22 19:59 ]


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Astromarine on September 17, 2001, 04:55:00 AM
I just needed to say this. Kwill, thank you thank you thank you for that link to sinfest. I had never even heard of it, but I've been readin the back strips and I *love* it.

Astro


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Ring Kichard on March 17, 2002, 06:13:26 PM
Because point by point posts are fun:

Quote

Great cliche: Good needs evil and vice versa. Without one, the other cannot exist.
A cliche is an assumed truth. Everyone assumes its true without ever thinking about it.


Isn't this cliché the  Hegelian Dialectic (http://carmen.artsci.washington.edu/panop/subject_H.htm#HEGELIAN%20DIALECTIC)? It's hardly something that's been assumed true without thought.

Quote from: John Wick

And Jared, I don't need a reason to bitch slap you.


Quote from: John Wick


There is a reason you threw the rock. Whether it is curiosity (SNIP) or pleasure (SNIP) or maliciousness (SNIP), you had a reason to do it. Nobody does anything "on impulse." People behave according to external and internal stimuli... even if that stimulli is "freewill."




Interesting.

John mentioned "third level logic" as logic capable of being self referential.
I'm reminded of  Godel, Escher, Bach (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465026567/qid=1016406874/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-5017084-2359817)'s interpretation of the Godel incompleteness theorem  (http://www.miskatonic.org/godel.html) on the function of the human mind: (grossly paraphrased) because the mind is capable of thinking about itself, it will be unable to determine everything about itself. So while I might obey simple cause and effect at my neurological level, the cause of my decisions may be unknown and practically unknowable.

Quote from: John Wick

Good and Evil are terms defined by a being's societal environment. In the animal kingdom there is no Good or Evil behavior. There is Live or Die.


I suppose that depends on what is meant by good and evil, and what is meant by animal. Richard Dawkins proposes that animals act selflessly when it's in their genes' best interest in  The Selfish Gene (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0192860925/qid=1016407983/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_67_1/103-5017084-2359817). An argument  (http://kosmoi.com/Shop/Books/ISBN/0192860925.shtml) could be made that human beneficence is nothing more than an evolutionary extension of this trait. In fact, if human will is deterministic (opposed to free, perhaps), it could plausibly be a complicated version of whatever animals have.

I suppose I'll comment more (by citing the works of smarter people) later.


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Dav on March 25, 2002, 09:47:07 AM
Richard;

I was tooling about and decided to answer your question...

"What are people living in glass houses supposed to do?"

(Or words to that effect)

The answer:  paint the fucking thing.

Dav


Title: Elfworld = EVIL
Post by: Paul Czege on March 25, 2002, 10:14:34 AM
"What are people living in glass houses supposed to do?"
.
.
.
The answer: paint the fucking thing.


Or, for those so inclined...get jiggy wit it.