An Ethical Question
Here's a curious thought that sprang to my mind this morning.
OK, so within the context of a fantasy world (or, if you make appropriate substitutions in what follows, a high-tech world), it is possible through magical means to alter people's state of mind.
Let's consider the spell 'Remove Fear'. I was considering the idea of having a magical sword that (whilst not wishing to start another alignment debate!) is what you would call 'good-aligned', or maybe 'tries-to-do-the-right-thing-aligned' if you prefer. I was thinking that this sword would be called the Mercyblade. Why? Because, as it inflicts a fatal wound, it casts Remove Fear, and maybe Remove Pain (a reversed Wrack spell, if you like), on its target, so that they don't suffer as they die.
Then I thought about what might happen if you took this further. How about some kind of magical effect that meant the deceased's relatives and friends wouldn't feel any grief at their loss? That would have to be some pretty powerful magic, I'd agree, but not without precedent - there's a spell in the Book of Vile Darkness that causes the target's loved ones to take damage. If you reverse that concept - something that causes the target's loved ones to feel no pain.
Then I realised that I'd created an ethical nightmare. A weapon that kills without causing anyone pain. What deterrent would there be against its use? The wielder, knowing that they wouldn't cause anyone pain, might be tempted to lower their threshold for drawing and using the blade. They might even start to use it frivolously, or for greed-based reasons rather than self-defence, because they could justify that by killing someone and taking their stuff, they hadn't caused any pain, and had improved their own lot.
The road to Hell, paved with good intentions indeed.....