What is "Wrong"?


I visited a debate forum and someone asked the question, "What is wrong?" What is ethically or morally wrong and how do we decide this? Murder is wrong, but can you say why, without resorting to the Ten Commandments or other religious texts, or just saying that it's against the law or society? And how does this apply to gaming?

You are the final judge. This is your True Face.

The Japanese believe that each person has three faces. The first face is what they show the world. The second face is what they show their friends and family. Only the individual can see their true face. Morals and ethics operate in a very similar manner.

Everyone is imbued with the morals and ethics of their society (the first face). These societal morals are represented by Laws and enforced by police. Speeding, stealing and such are covered by these. This also includes institutions like work, church, and school.

Friends and family make up our moral and ethical second face. If you grew up with racist friends or family, you will more than likely be racist yourself. Peer pressure is a powerful thing, but familial pressure can be greater. If your family and friends are devoted church members, chances are you are too.

Last is yourself. In the end, you make you own decision of what is right and wrong. You are the final judge. This is your True Face.


...morals and ethics change with culture.

Please bear in mind that morals and ethics change with culture. Beating and hanging a man because of the color of his skin is accepted in certain parts of the world. So is ritual suicide, and having multiple wives.

So who gets to decide what is right and what's wrong? Why is having more than one wife wrong? How does ritual suicide harm society? Why is it accepted to have a channel devoted to Black Entertainment on TV but racist to have a channel devoted to White Entertainment? Why is a Women Only college permitted but not a Men Only school allowed?

Popular opinion, the views of prominent churches, and the reluctance to change old laws. That's what decides these questions.

I believe that attacking another person because of the color of their skin is wrong. I believe that BET and Women Only schools are racist and segregationist respectively, and that is wrong. I believe that polygamy and ritual suicide are not wrong. I believe that each of these are the choice of the individuals involved and no one else. But that's my own personal opinion based on my morals and ethics.

Remember, for the most part, ethics and morals boil down to the good of the many outweighing the good of the few or the one.

Role-playing Application

First you have to make a religion for your world. I prefer mixing existing religions to form a new one or adjusting an established church to fit my world (and so no one gets offended). Then I make the people's culture in a similar fashion. Once these two steps are completed, you should have a good understanding of that societies morals and ethics.

If I used the Catholic church as my religion and changed Jesus to Holy Usires and hung Usires upside down from a tree instead of a cross, then I doubt that any Catholics would get mad at me using their church. Especially if I changed the title Pope to something less recognizable, like Grand Cardinal. (This religion is invented by Tad William's church in his Memory, Sorrow, Thorn trilogy. I used it because it is a perfect example of what I was talking about).

If I then used Morroccan Spain mixed with Japanese Samurai I'd have an extremely civilized race of warriors who respect knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge as much as martial prowess. Scholars would be respected and cherished, as would those devoted to the arts. In this civilization, the use of slavery, especially criminals used as slaves for manual labor projects would be common. Having a wife and three concubines would not only be accepted, but seen as a measurement of status. After all, it takes quite a bit of money and... virility... to have a family that large.

This is a feudal society. It is ruled by a king and nobility (called Daimyo). Classes are strictly enforced with the freemen, scholars, and merchants being slightly above peasants. Only scholars, priests, and warriors have any real chance of elevating their status. Knights or Samurai act as police, judge, and executioner (when needed). What they say is law, although they may contradict each other. They are only answerable to their Daimyo, however, everything that they do reflects on their Daimyo and his honor. Thus if a Samurai raped a women, his Daimyo would have him captured, tortured, and killed in order to restore his (the Daimyo's) honor.

As you can see, the morals and ethics in this example are very different from ours. There are some similarities, rape and murder are still capital crimes, but the differences far outweigh the similarities.

In a Game World the GM decides what is right and wrong.

Now, taking this background that the characters grew up in under consideration and not your own, would it be morally or ethically wrong for a PC to have a sex slave? Someone who is working off a debt maybe? What about buying a young cute girl from a poor farmer so that your character can marry her later? Or ritual suicide in response to dishonoring yourself? (hara-kiri?) Or ordering someone to kill themselves? Or branding a thief? Or defeating a person in battle and making them your slave?

What happens when two groups of people from different cultures meet? What if the above example ran into the Egyptians with their multitiered religion? Or Vikings? Or Greeks? Imagine playing a Samurai Paladin who has to negotiate a treaty with Viking Lizard men?

How cool would it be to play in a world like this?

In a Game World the GM decides what is right and wrong. It' s up to the GM and the Players to explore the ethics and morals of this world.

Interesting article with some good ideas on making social values match social constructs. I especially like the gaming application ideas and examples for mixing existing cultural and religious elements with fantasy elements. I think I'm going to make some Viking lizard people.

I disagree with the statement that:
"Remember, for the most part, ethics and morals boil down to the good of the many outweighing the good of the few or the one."

Often, ethics and morals, are established by the powerful few and are used to keep a social status quo. Mass ritual human sacrifice as took place in early South American cultures and socially sanctioned genocide (in whatever context)are good examples that the utilitarian principle you presented above is not the norm for all societies. Slavery and Racial segregation in the US is another example where many are oppressed for the benefit of a ruling elite.

Interesting artical indeed.

I have thought much on the subject of ethics and morality within realms. I have actually recently played a LIzard-man named "Socrates" who was a fighter but never raised a sword more then twice in his short career before dieing.

Socrates was a thinking man's man. His entire set of skills revolved around reading, speaking tongues of various cultures, writing, teaching and above all else "ethics"

His devoted all his free time to working on a great book of ethics in hopes to leave behind a peice of work that would successfully detail what IS and what is NOT ethical...Players often want to do the right thing but dissagree on what the correct "good" action would be....Rangers often lose thier ranger abilities due to actions they thought were "good" but turned out to be evil in the DM's view...alot of confusion is behind RPG's alignment issues between good and evil...but ethics is even deeper down that rabbit hole.

The DM ended up working out a deal with me as a player. If I could write the book up until 8th level, devote as much time possible to writing the "Great work of ethics" (while actually exploring and attempting to live ethically) he would allow me to make a roll vs success in creating the ground breaking (no doubt 'soon to be historical')book.
The idea was to have a book in print, within the realm, that any civil man could read and find out the limitations of "good action" vs "ethical action". The book was going to be a tome to read for millions of year to come, for all in the realm, to finally get a solid answer to ethics.

The DM said that anyone who had possession of the book would be able to look up any action, and find its ethical weight. The book would only discribe ethics in the realm we were playing in, but it would allow anyone reading it to make sure somthing was actually ethical. I got the idea from Homer...not the cartoon.

The Lizard man died to a bunch of undead bugbears, right after obtaining 5th level...he was buried and his book was buried with him. O well.

So since then I have detailed a simular book for one of my own realms, written by the great Elvin philosopher "Cellilly Quee" (get it?), who was always debating ethics with himself, as if he was in a never ending argument with himself, out loud, non-stop.

The book is not finished, and when it is, I plan to have it stolen and brought to the evil lands of Amagod, where the evil ruler of the land will pervert the work and have is people write the difinitive work of evil - an Anti-ethics book if you will.

the players will freedom to try and save the book, stop the anti-ethics from being written (such a book could have huge effect on any world within 100 or so years). or just ignore and forget the whole problem until it bites them in the ass.

Most people never consider the works of man, in our world, that have contributed to our evolution as "civil creatures"... Great works of writting often change the world, and mold culture for thousands of years to come...A work on ethics is a great treasure that could remove any doubt or grey from the whole concept within any one realm.

of course, ethics do not always translate to each realm as the same...such a work might prove to be useful in one realm, but be completly "wrong" in another.

So...what IS wrong?

Sifolis said: The Lizard man died to a bunch of undead bugbears, right after obtaining 5th level...he was buried and his book was buried with him.

An intriguing plot hook / quest here to retrieve the unfinished work and turn it over to a like-minded NPC to complete. Hmmm....

Yknow, thats a sore spot with me...In games I dm, I tend to allow quests to retrieve lost treasures of fallen PCs, or allow ressurection of PCs that died many games ago, while still allowing the player to play the PC.

I always think that sort of thing has a "full circle" feel to it, and cuases story to become sureal and emotional....the return of a great magical treasure to be now named after the PC who was most noted for having it (Leggolicks Bow of +1-ness...oh thats acient!, or when a party hears of a buried PC (or NPC for that matter) that was lost decades ago in a realm far away...only to be quested for now that they finally got a ressurection.

I mark every burial place, resting spot, final destination of all NPCs, items and the like- on my maps for such reason. But the DM I play this game with has done it before where he says things like

"the body is impossible to find...its a huge moutnain range"

yknow...nothing is impossible when you have magics that can locate things...but ok...its impossible.

Once a PC fell and died and we traveled 5 games to a place where we faught a iron gollum for a ressurection wand...it was the last in the land (dm said so), and we traveled off his intended path, just to get it...he was pissed and kept saying we should be saving the world...screw that Zeno was my friend, and the only good drow we ever met...he saved my life many times, and the rest of the party was ready to die trying to get this guy back to life.

by time we got back...we dug him up...and guess what? the DM said...

"Zeno's body is missing...sumone found him..."

wow...guess its not THAT impossible.

now thats WRONG!

Ok, back to the topic:
I'd like to try and give my answers to a few of Calamar's questions:

Moral Basics
Murder is wrong, but can you say why, without resorting to the Ten Commandments or other religious texts, or just saying that it's against the law or society?
No, I can't. and I don't think anyone can. IMO, there is no Cosmic Right and Wrong. WE invented the rules, whether you susbcribe to the view of democratic laws or religious commandments. The origins of our ethics and morals are biological (murder reduces the species' chances of survival) and social (a society in anarchy, devoid of a code of conduct, will crumble and will not survive for long against a hostile environment). As such, they are dependent on the environment a society is in (it's not amoral to kill a babe at childbirth in China, in some Arab societies, it's permissable for family members to kill a daughter if she appears to have demeaned herself or damaged the family's honor).
While we have evolved these basic concepts to more elaborate and high-brow ideas (the value of human life, the need for equality) these are all fancy garments which we put on our need to be able to survive and thrive (for which we need a Society).

The three faces
The idea of the private face as the True one relies on the belief that there is an absolute Truth. If you don't take to that, then "You are what people think you are" (as Dr. House says), and all three faces are equally true, or false.

Roleplaying It
What happens when two groups of people from different cultures meet? ...How cool would it be to play in a world like this?
I think this might be interesting, but it wil also be very, very hard.
I've got a hard time making my mind, in reality, regarding other people's beliefs and morals; It will probably be thrice as bad to consider a fictional character's (with a fictional belief system) reaction to a second set of fictional beliefs...the mind boggles.

To end with a high note:
Since, IMO, there is no universal Right, no ultimate Wrong, I think it's amazing that we all (to one degree or another) hold these values, regardless of the differences. In addition, we should challenge our own concepts of these, or at least allow them to be challenged by others, as that's the only way to improve ourselves (as people and a species).

- reading a signature is silly -

I do not agree...Mot fully anyway. There may be truth in saying "we made the rules". but we also made video games-they have rules- so does the game of human life. Sure its not a magical super force that governs anything (in MHO), and sure there may be no certified end-all law set forth before man's creation...No I do not think that is true either. I agree with you in that morality or ethics are man made...but I do not doubt that they are real or question the fact that there IS a right or wrong. There is a right...there is a wrong.

Just becuse it doesnt have divine or spirtual power behind it, or have universal law behind it, it does not mean its not as real as cars, trucks, lust, Mcdonalds, the internet and all other "man invented" things.

Right and wrong is a concept..yes...you are correct. But that doesnt mean a "concept" can not be "real" in any sence.

Real concept: People like to live, so killing them is wrong. And it IS wrong. Why? without quoting the bible or simular magics, killing (lawlessly) removes the rights of a free creature. it limits one's choices or actions to satisfie or fule anothers. Killing is ultimitly wrong becuase it removes the one thing ALL creatures thrive to be...Alive.

Lions dont kill for sport, most animals only kill for food or protection. It could be debated that since all forms of life struggle to survive that ending that struggle is agianst the natrual order of life. When you add that we are the only sentient beings to exists within our known universe, you quantumfie the reason it is wrong a billion times cubed.

Life's main goal is to live, procreat and consume fule. Those three things. So when you mess with a sentient creatures three main lines of program you are going agianst the very meaning of life. you are throwing a wrench into the complex working machien of DNA at work on this planet.

To kill to aquire the three main goals is where it gets confusing and grey. But in its simple form of ethics, to refuse or withold any of these three forms of program, from a living creature, in any of its forms is wrong.

"You can't have food...I will never feed you though I can without much worry, I refuse you any nurishment so you can't fule yourself to produce offspring, that in turn seek fule."

Thats wrong.

"You are alive and stranger to me. We have never met, and I wish to hurt you, perhaps destroy you for pleasure. I will end your life to please mine. refusing you DNA's main goal, to live"

That is wrong.

"I will take your wife from you. The one your sexuality signeled you to be attracted to. the one your DNA cuased you to wish to create offsrping with. The one you love and care for. So I kill her for no reason"

That is wrong...

Now you asked for one of us to give you good reason why ethics are real and what makes wrong and right possible.

DNA is a code. It communicates, exchanges information, crunches numbers, evolves through math, and hold a billion messages that all trigger respounces in other codes of other DNA. The first protozoen life form to emerge on planet earth had every line of code nessary to eventually become an elephant. They all still do. DNA is a working code like any other man made one. Codes only appear in two places in the universe. (from Hawkin's point of view anyway)

"Codes only exsist in two forms in the known universe. In man made creations of technology, and in the DNA of all life."

Codes run by rules...rules make logic. Logic and codes are man made...DNA is a complex but logical code that works on the same rules as the codes running window XP...just a billion trillion times more advanced.

So ethics is the rule book for running DNA. Since squirles and bugs cant make bombs and snow cones, its up to man to create "ethics", the rules of the code.

Main goals of the code are.
Make more

Anything getting in the way of that is unethical and wrong. Again it gets much more complex and grey when the cases are not clear cut...but thats why Ethics is a socile "science"...its somthing that can't be answerd in a RPG forum by any one man..it takes a nation of great men thousands of years to figure out the proper rules of exsistence.

wow...I mangeled that post...hope you have a good decryption skills.

The Three Faces concept does not rely on Absolute Truth (I don't believe that there is such a thing in morals and ethics). In it's original sense the Three Faces simply translate to:

1st Face: What you show the world. In other words, what you want other people to think of you. A lie or mask.

2nd Face: What you show people that you know and like including family and friends. More truth, but layered in lies. A half mask like the Phantom of the Opera or Batman.

3rd Face: What you truly feel and believe. No mask other than that made by your own subconcious (you can and do lie to yourself after all).

In society, the Three Faces are more ambiguous, more open.

The 1st Face is popular opinion more than anything else. Popular opinion changes law and reflects what the majority of people believe is right and wrong.

The Dark Ages in Europe was due to the majority of people obeying the Church and not reading anything other than the bible. Anyone who questioned what they were taught or were found reading something other than the bible were considered to be a heretic or witch and killed or imprisoned.

At the same time Muslim Spain was celebrating a Golden Age of learning that most of our modern science is still based off of. They ecouraged people to read and to think for themselves. The rewarded and brought gifts to scholars just to hear them speak of things that they had learned. (BTW playing a scholar in the sort of culture is VERY rewarding).

That is the power of popular opinion and religion.

Another good example of this are the crusades.

The 2nd Face is peer pressure more than anything else. Your family, friends, people at work, church, and school. If you grow up as a Mormon in Salt Lake City, then you are very likely to hold the morals and ethics of the Mormon Church close to your heart. You will not drink, cuss, smoke, sleep around and you will serve a two year mission somewhere preaching about your church to other people.

If you grow up in Corporate Japan you it is very likely that you will be rascist and intolerant of other cultures. You will put your company before your friends (actually that's kind of misleading since all of your friends are going to be from the same company that you work for)and you consider the honor of your company, family, and self before taking action.

If you grew up in the city of San Fransisco and moved to New England, than you will probably shock your new neighbors with your loose morals and obscene ways. But if you moved to Boulder Colorado, you'd fit in seamlessly.

Or a highschool football player from Texas (where football is worshipped religiously)and transfer them to a highschool in Canada. Even if the Canadian school has a football program (not garanteed), it will not be the center of the school like football is in Texas.

In this case, this highschool kid will have to find something else to fill his time. He may have to struggle with schoolwork and his grades will probably slip rather drastically as teachers in Canada won't give him the benefit of the doubt since he's the start of the team.

Or remember when you were in highschool (which is pretty easy for those of you still there). What stupid things did you do or try because it was the "cool" thing or because all of your friends did it?

Smoking, vandalism, drugs, sex, fighting, fashion statements, and yes, roleplaying are all things that people start while in highschool. Usually, at the encouragement of their friends.

The 3rd Face, your true face is how you feel about things without the above influences.

A gay person who grows up in a small conservative town may not come out until they move away for fear of rejection, humiliation, and pain. Their true self is gay, but their 2nd and 3rd face is not.

I knew a jock in highschool who was one of the most popular kids in the school. He was smart, goodlooking, and a track star (who broke records every year). He also liked to roleplay, but because it wasn't "cool", he never mentioned it at school. In fact, he made fun of the people that did roleplay, even if they were part of his roleplaying group.

He would roleplay after school at a friend's house. He told his "jock" friends that he had a part-time. His true face was a roleplayer. His 2nd and 3rd face was that of a cool jock who wouldn't stoop to something as nerdy as roleplaying.

What about a rich proper southern belle who is, at heart, a tom boy who wants to go climbing trees, getting dirty, playing football, drinking, and who throws a mean left hook?

Bringing this back to roleplaying, if you had the (default) strict Catholic christian based culture characters (cleric, paladin, knight) visit a looser christian culture celebrating something shocking (Day of the Dead festival from Panama) how would they react? They are all christian, right?

What if you took similar characters and had them meet the fantasy equivalent of Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, or Hippies?

Or as a change you could have the characters COME from another religion and visit a christian based culture. Warning, it works best if you have the characters come from a religion that resembles that of the player's.

Here are some samples:

Elves that have the Spirit World religion and culure of Native American Indians.

Minotaur that culturally resemble Hawaii with Muy Thai Kickboxing (because it's cool!)

Mesopotanian Halflings.

Japanese Dwarves.

That'd be cool...

From your responses I gather I had not made my points clearly.

First, Calamar, I did not say that the concept of three faces required absolute truth, I said: "The idea of the private face as the TRUE one...". One can't claim one face is true if there is no such thing as objective Truth. I totally agree with the faces theory in general.

In addition, I also subscribe to the notion that real-world cultures and religions are mighty good RP material. (BTW, I've ordered GURPS Religion based on your recommendation).

Second, Sifolis, just to clear something up; you said:

The first protozoen life form to emerge on planet earth had every line of code nessary to eventually become an elephant.

That's simply not true. The base engine of evolution is mutation. Whether caused by radiation, replication errors or toxins, the fact is that the machine code (DNA) of those first creatures would have done nothing to evolve them to elephants if it were left to itself.

In addition, I've never said ethics were not "real", as any other man made ideas. Where'd you take that from?

Lastly, while you're basically agreeing with me (saying that the origins of ethics are biologically-centered, as represented by DNA), you haven't answered the essence of the question. You say killing is wrong because it undercuts the goal of DNA; but why is THAT wrong? What makes the goals of the DNA special?

As I've stated before, I don't think there is a logical, absolute answer to the question of why X is wrong (or right) outside of human decision; and while that decision can have very good reasons, they are all still man-made, and therefore largly open to cultural differences.

So Sif... is this entertaining enough for you? I told you that I had a couple of good articles waitin' for ya ;-)

Zip .. I'm on page with you on the theoretical level, but don't want to join you in the conclusion. Just because we can't prove absolute ethical truth doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Here is where I agree -

- Laws, codes, and ethics are constructed by humans under various evolutionary threats
- Humans form social organizations to respond to the pressure
- Social groups form hierarchies - methodologies for evaluating the worth of the individuals
- Social groups develop elaborate rituals and beliefs about how to act within the group, how to identify yourself as part of the group, and how to treat others
- a specific individual may be a member of many social groups

The rules that come out of these interactions are called ethics. Since they are designed to serve a pragmatic purpose they cannot be seen as an absolute truth. This is only valid if you can prove that all of the ethical rules come from these constructs, and I don't think you can. I certainly can't prove the opposite either. Is there a spark of soul that guides all creatures to a universal moral truth?

We cand descend into epistimological nihilism, but what is the point?

Bottom line - we want to populate our imaginary world with interesting interactions. Calamar brought us to the various faces that people have. Sifolis expanded on the ways that cultures can interact. ZipDrive reminded us that ethics are constructs. I am trying to add that for magic and religion to thrive our worlds have to have people that reject what Zip is saying with all of their might. Otherwise our worlds may become a place of idelogical tolerance where people view their own opinions/ethics with a level of skepticism.

Why, then 'tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison." Hamlet

yeah I dig evil vs good, just add DNa, conversations...very cool.

But I would like to point out that zippy was wrong on a major level.

Evolution is not based off of mutation. that is the common misunderstanding, and any level of schooling in biology will teach that any form of "mutation" dealing with outside stimuli (radiation, toxins, chemicals, etc) does not in any way promote or stand as a catalyst for evolution.
Most people do not understand evolution or its way of taking place. Most people still think what was taught in the early 80s as truth still stands to day.
In the 80s, leading theroies held that mutation was a main front player in evolution and its reason for complexity...this theory along with the "half a eye" therory ran rampant in schools and debate tables all around science...Since then leading science has thrown it all away, along with the notion that evolution happens on a regular basis.

The entire science has been re-worked and a few points have been discovered as long ago as the mid-90s.

main fact of mutation being: Mutaion, in any form, is deadly and distructive to all life. This was figured through discoveries made by studying fruit flys (in cambridge, from 87 to 2001). Now we can all throw the leading studies of evolution out the door to sapport darwinism, but if we are doing that we might as well join the Flat-worlder's and hate electricity.

The entire code needed to create any biological life form is contained in every strand of DNA from the get-go. Its the "half of eye" theroy and it stands correct in saying that

"what is needed to become an elephant, is found in every ameboa on the planet"

This is absolutly true...and DNA is a binary code that works to replicate through natrual evolution, not this poppy cock bulls^^t that you call "mutation"...science has long ago let go the half-baked theory that mutation from outside stimuli happens (and those who promoted such ideas were quacks anyway...with no one backing them up in the scientific realms).

To even hear a grown man offer such info is both disgusting to me, and terrofieing that people still hold onto such things as fact...it never was a fact, it always was laughed at by leading research, and it was considered crazy even 20 years ago...

The "mutation" theroie is up there with "dinosuars were reptiles, slow and cold blooded"...could be true, your right...but all research points the other way...if you want to based the answers to the unknown on data that says dorectly opposit, then let me reccomend looking into newton, and just ignoring the finer sceinces.

Lastly...the DNA/code/ethics debate that i presented (horribly might i add, due to being drunk at the time of typing), if not my idea, or my information...it is all presented by Steven Hawkin, years ago, on the public release and scientifically published "Gambler's therory"

Its very interesting, and not some hokey-bull like "radiation made life change"...the very base program in DNA is to evolve and change to adapt and reproduce...it IS a code..hence why science has long dubbed it "the DNA code"

you must first begin to understand that science dosnt just give out good names to things cus it sounds cool. Its called a code cus it works on every basic and complex level that a real computer code works on. Hawkins then uses this information to very plainly prove god to me, in just under 30 pages of math and reason.

So...sir...The code communicates, it multiplies and progresses in a perpetual manner (again...another thing making DNA specile. in a universe where perpetual ANYTHING is outlawed by the laws of the universe....see Newton VS Schrodinger for more classic overthrows in science that changed the entire race of man as we know it). The code of DNA is suited and set to procreat forever, as long as there is enough diversity to withstand a bottlenecking effect (see whight tigers in today's zoos for a view at bottle neck gene pools).

The code of DNA is out right the only natrual appearing code to exsist. hawkin's said if there was life on ever 1000 planets in the universe, then the ratio of life vs non-life matter would be the equivilant of one pencile eraser (life) vs Newyork city (non-life matter. rock, water, chemicals). DNA, why is it right? It isnt...but if you wanted to promote it..you would need ethics.

Ethics is the rule book of sentient life. if you saw it as a joke and a mechanic that has no real place in reality...then YOU are evil, or neatrual....in D&D terms. You lack the WIS score to see any of this, and since your using back-wood science that has been perminatly removed from all science..i have to question your INT score too.

Nothing erks me more then people spreading the sickness of "bad science"...specilly when its a result of bad research, when a quick glance at anything recent woulda told you whats seen as "probable" these days.

I reccomend using the interent...there are many research sites that deal with factual study.

If DNA is a code, and if that code depicts every form of life on the planet, then wouldn't the changes in the code allow for both elephants and woolly mammoths? If that is true, than couldn't the difference between the two be called a mutation?

What is the difference between a frog and a toad? Or a person and a donkey? Minute changes in the DNA code, right? What are those changes called if not "mutation"?

If the original amoeba from the sea had the DNA for all the creatures that we have on the planet today, then when that amoeba changed into an elephant, the process is called... What?

I assume that the amoeba didn't change into the elephants that we see roaming the savannah today, right? There were a few steps along the way. Those evolutionary steps could also be considered "mutations", meaning minute changes in the DNA code, correct?

So why is it wrong to label these changes as a mutation? Labels are just simple terms that stand for a complex meaning. The meaning of the word "mutation" in regards to evolution has, I believe, changed meaning from what it did in the 80s and early 90s.

...Would that make humans mutant elves or vice versa? What about centaurs and dwarves? Maybe we all came from halflings, would that be a cosmic joke!

why? becuase thats loose use of scientific wording..that is very dangerous when talking about factual workings of science. the "mutation" in science, has very definite meaning...and "change" is not "mutation".

Mutation represents strange, un-presedented change due to the system NOT working correctly. Evolution is change according to plan or the system's natrual movment.

Its high school science we are disscussing now...this shouldnt be that hard to understand.

Further more , 100% of all observed "mutations" in life, lead to an almost 100% death rate to the creature mutated (two headed frogs n turtles, fish with no eyes, etc etc). A mutated creature can not give birth or procreat. Mutated DNA is broken, and the code erases all chance of such a thing producing further. This fact is the largest reason why "mutation" was forever removed from proper science as cuase for evolution.

Again...this is all basic science, and I tend to enjoy the workings of the Mirco-quatum level...quarks, quans, buckyballs, etc.

But it just drives me nuts how anyone would debate this...its like debating the world being flat. Genetic science has reached the mapping of the Genome...and here we are going to the dark ages debating and protecting mutation as a good thing.

Nothing ever observed , that had mutated, resulted in anything but destruction of the line. And thats factual...not theroy

The Genome project has brought us to a whole new age of understanding DNA, evolution and all things of the body. Its like landing on the moon but more effectual to man. You might want to touch up on your bio study...things have changed since "mutation" was even alllowed in evolutionary disscussion...between adults

Dude, you crack me up! Mutation and change mean the same thing! It's how you perceive it that matters. In fact, of the two definitions, mutation fits what you have described much better than change does. Read for yourself...



1. The act or process of being altered or changed.

2. An alteration or change, as in nature, form, or quality.

3. Genetics
A. A change of the DNA sequence within a gene or chromosome of an organism resulting in the creation of a new character or trait not found in the parental type.

B. The process by which such a change occurs in a chromosome, either through an alteration in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA coding for a gene or through a change in the physical arrangement of a chromosome.

C. A mutant.

4. Linguistics The change that is caused in a sound by its assimilation to another sound, such as umlaut.


changed , chang•ing , chang•es

a. To cause to be different: change the spelling of a word.

b. To give a completely different form or appearance to; transform: changed the yard into a garden.

2. To give and receive reciprocally; interchange: change places.

3. To exchange for or replace with another, usually of the same kind or category: change one's name; a light that changes colors.

a. To lay aside, abandon, or leave for another; switch: change methods; change sides.

b. To transfer from (one conveyance) to another: change planes.

5. To give or receive the equivalent of (money) in lower denominations or in foreign currency.

6. To put a fresh covering on: change a bed; change the baby.


1. To become different or undergo alteration: He changed as he matured.

2. To undergo transformation or transition: The music changed to a slow waltz.

3. To go from one phase to another, as the moon or the seasons.

4. To make an exchange: If you prefer this seat, I'll change with you.

5. To transfer from one conveyance to another: She changed in Chicago on her way to the coast.

6. To put on other clothing: We changed for dinner.

7. To become deeper in tone: His voice began to change at age 13.

1. The act, process, or result of altering or modifying: a change in facial expression.

2. The replacing of one thing for another; substitution: a change of atmosphere; a change of ownership.

3. A transformation or transition from one state, condition, or phase to another: the change of seasons.

4. Something different; variety: ate early for a change.

5. A different or fresh set of clothing.

a. Money of smaller denomination given or received in exchange for money of higher denomination.

b. The balance of money returned when an amount given is more than what is due.

c. Coins: had change jingling in his pocket.

7. Music
a. A pattern or order in which bells are rung.

b. In jazz, a change of harmony; a modulation.

8. A market or exchange where business is transacted.

change off

1. To alternate with another person in performing a task.

2. To perform two tasks at once by alternating or a single task by alternate means.

change hands
To pass from one owner to another.

change (one's) mind
To reverse a previously held opinion or an earlier decision.

change (one's) tune
To alter one's approach or attitude.

Everything that I know about the Genome Project I learned from playing Civilization. That's not a whole lot.

Hardcore science, along with math, are not subjects that I can comfortably delve into. I do know a bit about it, but not even close to the quantum physics level that you like.

My point wasn't that you are right or wrong or that Zip was. My point is that I think that you misunderstood the meaning of the words that Zip used. Zip may be in perfect agreement with you but he happened to use a word that you didn't like.

The meaning of words change over time. "Dude" used to mean a city person trying to be a cowboy. Now it just means "person". A "dipthong" is the "ing" on the end of a word but I've heard it used as an insult. "Gay" used to mean "happy" and "faggot" was a piece of wood.

The word "Mutation" used to mean something different in regards to the evolutionary process back in the 80s. Today it means exactly what you have been describing.

Instead of telling Zip that he was wrong to use the word "mutation" and leaving it there, why don't you explain what causes that amoeba to turn into an elephant?

Zip offered up "radiation, replication errors or toxins" as the cause for (dare I say it?) mutation. I don't think he's right, but I don't know enough of the subject matter.

If the original amoeba started off the same, then why did they change into the vast diversity of life that we have now? Why did some turn into elephants and others into insects? And how did enough amoeba change into elephants that we still have them around today?

Sif, before I answer your post in depth, I would like you to point me at these articles/books you're quoting, as in an hour's jaunt on the net, I've found no note of this "revolution in evolution" you say occured in the last decade.

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Cal, while I'm in absolute agreement with your last paragraph, Sifolis, his blowhard attitude notwithstanding, has indeed judged my intention correctly.

While I'm no biology or genetics expert by any stretch, I'm interested in science in (almost) all its forms, and I'd hate to think I've missed such a big change of scientific thought as a complete up-ending of evolutionary theory.

I'd be happy to be updated on current scientific form, but until then, I'll stick with what I've learned in school and a couple of university courses (both in the last 5 years, and one of them called "the origin of species"). In addition, as i've said, I had difficuly finding general-explanation type articles on the 'net, and the only source I found (wikipedia), while certainly not a factual masterpiece, states:
The mechanisms that produce these [frequency of alleles] changes are the basic mechanisms of population genetics: natural selection and genetic drift acting on genetic variation created by MUTATION, genetic recombination and gene flow.

the hyperlink from MUTATION: "In biology, mutations are changes to the genetic material (usually DNA or RNA). Mutations can be caused by copying errors in the genetic material during cell division and by exposure to radiation, chemicals, or viruses, or can occur deliberately under cellular control during processes such as meiosis or hypermutation."

Again, while this looks solid to me, Wikipedia isn't a completely reliable source and I'm not cocky enough to assume I know everything.
In addition, I make no allusions to anyone's WIS or INT.

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BTW, do you think that pronouncing ethics and morals as man-made reduces from their worth, validity or importance?

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BTW, searching for "stephen hawking gambler's theory" in google produced nothing viable.
Im GUESSING you were indeed referring to Stephen Hawking, the noted theoretical physicist?

actually, what I found was this: http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/life.html

which sort of support my current view...

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Hmm.. tough question.

I feel like I am a bit on the horns of the dilemma. My humanistic response is "no" because I value the individual. However, as I sit with that answer I am troubled by the sense that a less constructed ethical system is preferable. Universal ethical truth or God's Law* -- if it is knowable -- must supercede human law. By definition. That doesn't make me feel any more comfortable either as people call upon God's Law as an excuse to do horrible things.

Zip -- can I pass on the answer by saying that I don't know yet?

* I'll use God's Law for any moral code that may exist independant of society.

Gil, feel free...
In support of your dilemma (playing devil's advocate to myself)), I'd like to point out that if we accept that morals are man made, it would encourage that different sets of ethics/morals are all equally valid, and such a set can be replaced with another quite easily, thus reducing any set's value as a rock-solid foundation to a society.

Have I made myself clear?

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Well put. Further, If one were to accept the validity of the other value set we would lose our ability to judge between good and evil. My quip in an earlier post about tolerance alluded to this conclusion.

One of the things that I always include in my campaigns is each God's definition of Good and Evil. To PC Clerics I supply these perceptions (whether as a code, set of parables, or teachings). I have a feeling that there is something better I could be doing for people from different races -- perhaps provide moral tales (like the Iliad and Odessey) to give them the flabour of what is right and wrong in their current environment. Altough I have compiled a fairly vast selection of resources - those things are not among them.

What does everyone think about racial moral tales? Does anyone want to post any that I can borrow?

Yeah... I'm with you on this OldTimer, Sif has a good plot hook here.

I'd like some example, if you don't mind.

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...and such a set can be replaced with another quite easily...

Really? Quite easily? Where have you ever seen that happen?

thus reducing any set's value as a rock-solid foundation to a society.

Do you think society needs a 'rock solid foundation'?

Don't you think that this leads to stagnation and inability to adapt to changing circumstances?

(I have a longer piece to post...but it's not finished yet.)

Ok, "quite easily" might not qualify, but relatively easily can: see how the values and ethics of former soviet contries changed as the incentive to keep to them dropped (as they weren't considered laws from on-high)

A "rock solid" foundation doesn't mean (IMO) that it's immutable, but it is stable and hard to change, which I do believe is required for a society to prosper in the long term. If the codes of conduct or morals of a particular society shift each year, making sense of the world and prospering seems to me to be very difficult.

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yeah, well, guess I gotta give it to ya Zip...Mutation is credited as a possible reason of evolution...Im just one who donst sapport that practice of thought. But rock on with that....

Back to right and wrong...

its right to admit being wrong...

Still think zips int is an 11 and his wisdom is a 4...but dizam! the guys got one sexy CHR of 19.

You should see his Dex...

hahahahahaha...Biiiiiiiig DEX!

errr....thanks, guys....I think....

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hubba hubba

Are you looking for an example of a moral tale or religous parables to define good and evil, or both?

I originally left this reply to the weekend so that I had time to respond, but now on re-read I am not sure which idea you are interested in.

I'll give you a snapshot of one of the Gods in my D&D Pantheon and show you include some teachings and moral tales.

Viser (also Visier, Magnus, Thothet, and Somnalis)
God of Night Magic / Wisdom / Mystery
Epithets: Darkseer, Diviner, Aster Liber
Epiphany: Night
Major Sphere: Divination (In my D&D campaign every God has a prayer list based on the 17 holy speres. Gods in Viser's pantheon have one major, two close, four active, four distant, and four removed spheres -- leaving two spheres in opposition. They get no prayers from spheres in opposition. Clerics of Viser receive prayers from Stars (Divination) at lower levels, while healing prayers are a distant sphere, so they have access to them at a higher level -- eg. Cure light wounds is a second level prayer.
Secondary Attribute: Intelligence
Ceremony: Graduation
Symbols: Book, Field of stars, Candle with two ends aflame
Colours: Black, Blue, and Silver
Holy Warriors: Aster Magus -- Holy Wizards. Devout followers of both the arcane and the holy, legend tells that the greatest of these folk have mastered hybrid clerical/magical talents that combine magical spells with clerical prayers.
Teachings: Clerics of Viser have two sources of study -- the book of Viser and the stars. One of the most important tasks in the church of Viser is the correct transcription of the book for those who follow. One of the challenges is that the book is written in so many languages that are obscure, ancient, or entirely unknown, that it makes transcription difficult. One of the mysteries of the book of Viser is that using magic to read or understand the languages results in the seventeen parables of Viser. However, careful decryption through manual translation often reveals entirely different results -- not just new shades of meaning, but new teachings altogether.
The second course of study for priest of Viser is the stars, as they believe they hold the clues to the past, present, and future. One of the translated parables of Viser tells of a book of knowledge that was ripped in half. One part of the book became the stars, the other was left for the Vir (races of intelligence). Debate rages over whether this means that the book of Viser is half complete, or whether the half book metaphor relates to the roughly half of the book written in unknown languages.

One of the dangers of having a character have access to knowledge and understanding is that it can lead to players avoiding dangerous situations if they can detect the danger ahead of time. The teachings of Viser provide a nice balance to this power. Remember that Viser is a God of WISDOM, not necessarily knowledge. Therefore knowing that a situation is dangerous isn't reason enough to avoid it if it is the right thing to do. This also begins to shape the definition of Good and Evil for a cleric of Viser. Good creatures are those that seek out the magic around them, solve mysteries, and are humbled by the great amount that they do not know. "Remember that the sky is vastly dark and be humbled by it. This is the most important obersavation of all." It follows that you should respect others in this philosophy for you must recognize that each person holds secrets, clues that you may need to unravel the mysteries.

Parable of the wise brother

Two brothers grew up in a village together. They both studied the stars, language, chemistry, and magic. Although they were twins, one brother always fancied himself smarter than the other -- and perhaps he was so.
The village was threatened by a migration of Illorians across the plains, and the village made plans to repell and deter the invaders. In the village was a great temple to Viser that could not be lost. In secret and alone each brother turned to Viser for knowledge of the threat and both were given a great gift -- a glimpse of the future. They each saw themself lying dead at the door to the temple. Although they received the same knowledge they acted very differently.
One brother prepared to stay and fight, while the smarter brother prepared to flee the village. Neither told the other of the vision that they had.
[The ending of this story has two versions]

[version 1]
The smarter brother flees the village and escapes, while the other brother lies bloody at the entrance to the temple. Although they had the same vision only the one who stayed interpreted it correctly. He saw that the door to the temple was unmarred and knew that he could save what was important. He chose sacrafice and Wisdom over knowledge.

[version 2]
The brother who stays is able to rally the villagers to stave off the attack, and all is fine. Upon hearing that the village is safe the smarter brother returns, fearing for his brother (as per the vision). He enters the temple and climbs to the high observatory to give thanks to Viser for guiding his brother to wisdom. In the observatory he is so wrapped up with emotion that he fails to check the railing and falls to his death at the doors of the temple.

The tale is designed to show that knowledge should not lead to self-importance, but to sacrafice. Knowledge is the vessel that carries values, not the values themselves. This is a useful parable in spurring a reluctant cleric to action.

This parable of Viser can be used as a moral tale and re-told without the emphasis on the obvious religous slant.

Very cool. It shows that your God's are well defined and thought out. I like games that have a DM that takes time to detail the divine. Church is such an under defined area in oh-so-many games. Gods are normally reduced to paper cut outs of cartoonesk morals and appear to be see-through paper-thin when it comes to the god's teachings.

I really enjoyed reading about Viser...Its funny that one of the god's spoken names is Thothet and it is the god of "night magic"

A god by the name of Thoth, in my game, is the god of both magics, and the darkness in my game...wonder if there is a inter-realm relation in the great bloodline of the divine....hmmmm.

Anyway, I cant tell you how much it tickles me pink to see another DM take more time in difineing one god then most DMs take defining the entire pantheon.

Thanks Sif. Viser is loosely based around the Egyptian God Thoth -- without the Gonzo-like nose. I think that it is better to rest on existing archetypes than to be entirely original.

Bloodline of the Divine...certainly.

Gil, I really like the parable, and appreciate your willingness to go to length for a "fuller" religion.
I'm afraid I don't have that sort of perseverance (sp?)
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You could take parables from your own religion, change a few names, and have one for your fantasy religion.

For example (based on Christian religion), David and Goliath could be changed to Deimos and the Cyclops. Deimos could be defending his village instead of an army and Cylops could be terrorizing the countryside instead of... an army.

Daniel in the lions' den would work. As would most stories of Egypt including Moses.

If you are sensitive about using your religion, pick a religion that resembles the culture of the land instead. Confucious really did have a bunch of cool sayings. So did Muhamad and Ghandi.

This type of research is simple and can be done online with minimal effort.

Once you have these sayings, either give them to a PC priest to use (and reward them for using them wisely) or have a NPC use them. It'll add a lot of flavor to your campaign with minimal work.

Remember, Calamar says, "He who stands on toilet is high on pot."

ahahahahaha...I stands on toilet.

good ideas, I'll look into them.

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Wow, this is an interesting topic here. Lot's of deep responses.

Normally I would have a lot to say on this subject, but I just got back from holidays and seem to have missed the good part while it was still being debated.

So, my own personal ideas aside (I tend to enflame debates with my somewhat nihilistic view of good and evil), how do I handle this in my campaign world? What is "wrong"? Not a difficult or complicated answer at all...there is no "right" or "wrong" laid out by deities or higher powers. The gods are aloof, and leave man to his own designs for the most part. I don't use alignment. I find it restrictive in that many players feel that their alignment should dictate their actions, instead of the other way around.

Essentially, right and wrong is determined by the individual in question. If you're hungry and you steal bread to eat...you aren't hungry anymore! So that is "good"! But, if you're the guy that had the bread stolen from him, you'll likely view that as "wrong". And the authorities will likely agree...but that doesn't make it any less "right" from the point of view of the thief. In fact, it may make it more "right" in his mind, as he is now vindicated in his actions since he has seen that even the powers that be don't care for his plight. Solace in knowing that you are right even in the face of opposition is a warm comforting feeling.

But enough about bread-martyrs.

Just consider that your bread thief, if he's the thinking sort, accepts that if it's "right" for him to steal bread, it is also "right" for another hungry man to steal "his" bread...or is it?

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It's only "right" if you're the hungry guy. The person being stolen from will no doubt always feel that the actions of the thief are "wrong"...whether they themselves are also hungry or not. It's this fluididty of morality in the world that makes it so interesting...everyone gets to decide for themselves, and then face the consequences of their actions once they encounter a differing table of values in others.

As an example, right now in a campaign that I've decided to revisit (quite high level, and I haven't ran for this particular character in some time) a villain from the past has shown up again. The main character (my fiance's 12 year old witch...well, she's 21 now) has always had a soft spot for this villain because he has never lied to her or betrayed her...in fact, he commonly allies with her enemies so he can betray them to *her* once she gets close enough...then he snags some of their mojo on their way down. He has done this several times, and her allies are starting to worry about her questionable decisions in make deals with Ophedius. Essentially, the campaign has reached the point where if she does this one or two more times, she'll have single handedly helped create the greatest villain the world has ever seen...and will Ophedius be as forthcoming with his help once he has no rivals?

Bread and water debates have no place in a disscussion on the search for a true line between good and evil. Such talk is only bubble-gum chewed on by samantical philosophers trying to muddy the water and blurr the lines into grey.

The truth is (or my truth that I live by) is that there is true evil. Things that no man can rationilize or debate as anything but "dead wrong" and "evil".

A man walking down the street is out for one reason, to rape and kill a child tonight...he finds one, she/he is under the age of 9. The child is tricked, abused, then sluaghtered.

There is nothing in this situation that can be disscussed or leveled with. it is dredfully evil and only feeds the sick desires of an evil, or sick, man...either way...its not bread...its not for debate. its just plain wrong...

If a man does this in a world where real divine powers exsist (gods, angels, demons etc) then it goes to reason that some (if not all) of these gods forbid or encourage certain acts in their teachings of church.

Right and wrong may not really exsist to our race in this world (i think it does, but for arguments sake it may not)...but in a world of gods who govern their creations wisely , it does.

There will always be those who will argue that the actions of an individual that might seem evil are really due to that individual's lack of capacity to understand those actions. Your rapist example would be one of them... even you posit that the man may be "sick", in which case some societies would even excuse the crime based on his mental state.

Not that I agree with that; just pointing it out to further the discussion.

I believe that this topic is a paradox: what one person regards as evil, another may not. It is up to the majority to make the determination for the sake of rule/law/order, but that won't satisfy the detractors who still feel that they are justified in their minority view.

Good/Evil are matters of perspective.

So my line of reasoning is a bubble-gum philosophy? Dude, don't be so pompous as to assume that a simplification for the purposes of discussion is just semantics. And do not presume to tell me what does and does not belong in any discussion on a public message board. Telling people what lines of reasoning are allowed in a discussion is a closed-door practice that doesn't lead to any understanding of the others point of view. I just didn't want to get into the heavier aspects of the discussion, so I chose a lighter example. I normally won't argue my own *personal* beliefs on good and evil on a message board. It can get out of hand quickly. Trust me. Suffice to say that sometimes the lines need to be blurred, and muddy water is a sign that someone was stirring it up to see what floats to the top.

However, your example of the man/predator walking the streets is a good one. The only downside to your example is that (given that we are having this discussion in the context of a fictional world) it assumes that the gods of my world give a rat's ass what anyone does. In my setting, they do not. They are aloof beings that don't even watch the affairs of mortals anymore. People are free to use logic and reason to determine their actions, and for good or ill free will prevails. You're correct...many would consider that man/predator's actions to be evil or "wrong"; however he likely feels that those actions are "right" because they make him feel good.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that there are *no* lines drawn across morality in my setting, barring those drawn by popular opinion. It is one big grey area, and I was never trying to "search for a true line between good and evil" (on a personal level, I don't even believe in the existence of good and evil, so there's no need to draw a line between them)...I was pointing out that some people don't draw lines, and others color outside of them. Both methods are fine. In a world of men like the one in your example, *we'd* be the evil ones.

I've read some interesting things in this thread. One thing that I'd like to point out is that this has degressed into a philosophical discussion of right and wrong rather than a roleplaying aspect.

When I wrote this article I assumed that in each of your campaigns and worlds there are laws determining right and wrong. Usually, these laws and ideals are based on your own religious and modern beliefs and laws.

But what if your party were to visit a country with opposing beliefs? What if that predator hunting a child is the high priest looking for a sacrifice? And what if the parents WANT him to take their child, what if they were lining the streets and offering their children to him for the HONOR of having their child taken?

A Christian-based culture would have as hard a time in a culture like that as they would in the human sacrificial religion of the Mayans.

Or imagin a cannabalistic version of the Christian sacrament. Alter Boys raised to be sacrificed. Body of Christ indeed.

Who is to say which religion and culture is right and which is wrong? How would a Paladin for a (Christian-based) God of Healing react to visiting a cultire whose religion is based on the rape, torture, and murder of a child a month? He can't destroy the entire culture, nor can he change the people's beliefs.

It took Christians hundred of years to convert the Norse and Japanese to their religion. How would a Christian-based Paladin feel visiting Vikings and their Norse Gods or the Japanese and their Divine Emporer? How do you think a Buddhist Priest would feel visiting France during the Dark Ages? Or a Muslim visiting the Apache Indians?

That is the intent of this article. Who says that the PCs religion, culture, and beliefs is the "right" one? What would happen if they were from a Mayan-like culture? Who is right and how do the players and their characters deal with this?

Inquiring minds wanna know!

First of all, Calamar, this sort of cultural clash can be very interesting indeed, but I'm not sure I know how to handle it in-game.

Second, Japanese are Christian? since when?

Last I checked (10 second ago at japan-guide.com) Shinto and Buddhism were the two major religions.

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Christianity has been part of Japan since the 13 or 1400's. The Portugese who "discovered" Japan used Christian Priest (Catholic probably) as interpretors between the Portugese, Japanese, and Chinese.

The Priests were allowed temples and had small success with conversions. Unfortunately for the Priests, the Japanese never forswore their other beliefs in favor of Christianity and were able to balance Buddhism (or Shinto) with Christianity and believed in both.

I do know that Christians had a hard time in Japan, but they were there, they did have converts, and the were powerful.

Imagine playing a priest in that time!

For a better understanding, I'd recommend reading the novel Shogun by James Clavelle. While this is a work of fiction, it is based in fact and is historically accurate. It also highlights the difference between Eastern Japanese culture and Western Portugese Christian beleifs.

so, are you saying most japanese today believe in a mix of shinto and christianity?

BTW, the GURPS book I got in the mail today wasn't Religion after all, but the new Fantasy...the other is still in amazon offices somewhere.

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Nope, I'm pointing out the cultural roleplaying opportunities that we can get from studying the Christian attempt to convert the Japanese. I have no doubt that the Japanese culture has been and continues to be influenced by thise early missionaries.

Whether or not we agree with the religion has no meaning. We all have to admit that the Catholic Church was VERY good at converting people to their religion. It has happened in India, Japan, Mexico, South America, North American Indians, Norway, Russia, and even the Middle East.

Put this into a roleplaying game. The PCs don't have to be priests. They can be mercs hired to watch over the priest while he tries to convert the halfling cannibals. Or they could have a priest of Mala try converting them. Or they could live in a time of religious upheaval like what happened during the 200 years afte Christ died or the fifty years after Mohammed.

Just think about the opportunities!

The Muslims after muhammed's time were also very effficient converters...using big sharp blades.

and of course..one must not forget the spanish inquisition

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The Islamic Moors were Arabic and Berbers. They conquered Spain, North Africa, and most of the Middle East. However, they brought the love of knowledge and science to the people and their influence on our modern sciences and medicines is not something that we can easily dismiss. You can easily say that they did much more good than bad. At least, historically.

By way of Comparison, the Catholic Church started and sponsered several Crusades with the intent on killing off the Moorish people. And as you pointed out, they are responsible for the Spanish Inquisition as well.

While I don't believe in either religion, nor do I believe that either religion is right, I would much rather have a Moorish history than a Catholic one.

But that wasn't the point of this article or my later comments. The intent was to open opportunities for roleplaying games to incorporate these elements.

How about playing a secretly Christian PC in Moorish Spain? Or a non-Catholic during the Spanish Inquisition? Imagine a Spanish Inquisition in a fantasy world when you are playing a Priest or Paladin of the Heathen Goddess of Healing.

Religious tormoil can be very interesting and doesn't have to have anything to do with the plot. It affects everything.

Imagine this:

Pc's are traveling by ship when they pull into a city for supplies and trade. Their ship is impounded and searched, the crew and PCs are arrested as heathens and imprisoned. They are given the chance, usually after a bit of torture, to renounce their old religion and convert to the new one.

Now imagine that the Gods of your world are real. Wouldn't that automatically preclude your old god from ever healping you again? What if magic is involved and you have to submit to a geas-type spell that meakes you have to convert or kill people yourself? Or a spell that detects whether you are lying? Now you have to play someone who has actually been converted into that religion!

Or imagine that they just impounded your ship and set you free. Now you're stuck on foot in a hostile invironement were people are being tortured and killed because they are heathens, witches, or sinners.

How bad would THAT suck?!!?

yeah, those are interesting issues to explore in a game.

regarding moorish versus catholic history, in both cases I suspect one would probably not want to be around when the actual conversion takes place...a few years after that is much more comfortable :)

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Cal, callard, Cally, calmaster flex, Calisious,.

As your request I will share my christ-esk god Eyaht.

Eyaht was once a PC named Stewart, a mage who spent over three years (real time) through two campaigns gaining incredible power, becoming of god status. he traveled through the "Realm of Divine doors" and gain acess to becoming a god. The player decided what his new god would want to do and what his main philospohy would be...

His main goal (as PC said) is to overthrow the god's of old and become the "only god" the "omni god"...The God.

Poloytheism was invented on that day, and Ehyat has been a growing thorn in the sides of all PCs since (including the guy who retired the pc to become a god). the players have united agianst this god's intent to remove the gods of old, and even the PC who once played this now-god speaks openly about how much he HATES him and finds it HIS DUTY to stop what he once put into motion.

The fun part is HOW Mr-E is going about remiving the gods. The players invision a god war, blood, death, swords, dark ages, etc...but no...with divine inteligence and wisdom comes divine action. The god has started his quest to remove the gods and it is in its seedling stage now (over two years after the PC retired), the god's religeion has sprouted up all over the world. And its followers are trying to convert the world over to his guidence without violence.

the god simply offers a better deal to those who follow. The old god's demand worship and somtimes sacrifice. in my realm there is never many casting clerics. most clerics of any religeion never obtain spells and simpyl remain practicers of the church...If one thousand people attempted to become casting clerics, only about 10 would achieve first level clerical status...they are the big movers and shakers of the god's church. Casters are seen as omens, treasures of the church, mystical blessings, etc etc. A whole kingdom may only have 1-3 1st-to-3rd level clerics who cast...and THATS an amazing blessing for any one large kingdom...

So what does E offer that no other god offers? how bout 90% of those who ask for his blessing of casting, get it. Take 100 people praying for one night after first hearing about Eyaht, the next moring about 90 of them will wake up 1st level clerics.

Through this sort of offer the party is slowly noticing an increase of the new god's followers world wide. Many clerics are actually leaving the old gods to follow the new god, since they can achieve higher levels faster, with little or no worshiping of this new god, instead of working day and night to keep the soul worthy of a simple 1st level spell...

Eyhat demands nothing of his followers (yet), good or evil is rewarded equally as long as they speak the god's name in prayer every moring forsaking the old gods in his name...the god is immortal and has the thousands of years he needs to allow this sort of thing to take over the worlds religeion. the world at large has failed to notice this new church growing in the back yard of the entire realm, but some mystics have warned the players that this is not a good thing...people are starting to choose "easy worship" over the ways of the old gods who demand much service and sacrifice.

The god is not evil or good (the players dissagree mind you), and he has spoken of the "age of spliting", thats after the old gods are forggotten by all life in the realm (cus he promises he will pave right over the old churches with his new religeion. in that age (thousands of years from now) Eyaht will split into two beings, two gods, one evil, one good...and THEN he will make demands of his worshipers, till then he is doing the common drug dealer thing

"offering a small bit for free until the world is addicted or dependant, then he will start charging for his drug"

The philospohy of this god is the same as the PC's major personlity trait when he was mortal...the PC wanted respect and love, but above all he wanted to be "liked". his CHR was so low, and he played it up as the PCs major desire was to be accepted and loved by those around him....times this a billion times over and you have a god who wants the love and worship of the entire realm and is angry cus the old gods have all the world respecting them over him.

Now on right-vs-wrong, the new god's religeion points out that there are huge wars that come every few thousand years, results of gods who bash heads when they return to the realm after their cycle of resting...he points out the pettyness of great gods, the sarrow of the world and how many people die becuase the gods are at each other's throats...how man is a simple pawn in these divine creature's pissing-fights, and he is here to change that.

He says as the Omni God he will end all suffering delt to the realm becuase of gods. he will simply allow the realms to worship him and take what power they need, and in return he only asks for the world to over look the old gods and follow him...

the new-god has more inteligence then any other god in my game, meaning his is smarter then them...his wisdom is slightly lower then other gods, but with his inteligence he is tricky and crafty in his efforts to sway the realm.

Now, is it wrong to remove gods who are petty? even if they are good gods who have genuien love for their creations? Every 13 thousand years two gods (good and evil) practically reduce civilization to cave-status, a mandatory war takes place and all things get smashed in the process...this cycle is acient and the result of two very powerful gods coming into active status at the same time...

Eyhat promises to stop this sort of thing, and all other personal problems like this, by removing gods who hate and battle each other constantly, using the realm as a battle feild...he promises to remove the dark times and offer nothing but guidence and spells, never cuasing the world to collasp every so often like it ALWAYS has done every 13 thousand years, on a scedualed thousand-year war.

he promises that this thousand year war (and we are in the 300th year of it now) can be stopped, and that civilization dosnt have to be reduced to dust once again, that the god's themselvs do this to limit man from obtaining goddom, like he has...

it seems like a great plan without evil, but removing gods, even in a civil manner as "out selling them" with better religeion, has driven every player to swear his demise. Everything they feel and say about this guy is HATE and DISGUST! they swear he is evil for it..and yknow...he might be (i aint telling), but he has never used a weapon or fist to get his point across, but the players themselvs have a revulsion for this tactic much greater then they do for those who murder or guide nations to bloodthirsty war in the name of devils.

I dunno if this has enough to do with right-vs-wrong, i just wanted to show you conflict of that sort within my game...Religeion takes a super huge part in the mechanics of my realms, and the god's govern all things they created...to see them go away (they might, i dunno whos gunna win) will bring huge disruption to the lives of my players within the game...enough to insure they devote their gameing lives to returning the old gods.

Heres the secret...the one they dont know. At the end of this campaign, it will be known if the players have done enough to stop, limit or prevent Eyhat's plans...if they fail, they assume they will just get him next campaign and start again...but no..if they DO fail by the end of this campaign, the NEXT camapign is going to jump over 5000 years into the future...and it will begin in a world where most races and forms of life have no rememberance of any "old gods"

it will be tuaght that Ehyat was ALWAYS god, and never had any other divine entity within the realm but him.

Its gunna be fun...and reallllllly stressful

Sif, you raise quite an interesting theological point.
Why, in your opinion, do the players hate Eyhat if he's never done anything wrong to him? Do they believe the old gods as the rightful ones? if so, why?

- reading a signature is silly -

Yes, its surly a matter of familer love of the old ways...many NPCs feel this way too, but there is an increasing lot who want new ways. A world without personal gods who operate on old grudges agisnt each other.

The new god will surly remove all the inter-god bickering and battling, but the PCs see this as major change that somhow goes agisnt the "natrual law" of the realm that they have been in for longer then 15 years now...

the funny thing is watching them plan agiasnt a god. They have NO idea what to do, or how to begin a quest to defeat an actual god, but they sure as hell wont give up on the idea...ive seen them give up on much smaller things when they go too difficult or confusing..."cant find the secret door? screw it, lets just go"...but this, a matter that seems to have no appearnt yes-or-no answer at the moment, has every player banding together (no matter the alignment) to defeat the new coming of the new god.

They actually killed the first cleric of this god, a woman named Grahsenia, who was the first speaker on behalf of the new god...they had he tied up and helpless, captured and prepeared to take her to the church of the rightious lord of war "Thakus" who is a good aligned god. They started questioning this cleric woman, and she spat blood in the face of the palidine of the group...

words led to words, talking led to screaming...and then the palidine drew his sword and decapatated the cleric in cold blood, while she was unarmed and tied to a tree...whoa.

when asked why, "why did you perform a murder!? why did you lose your palidine powers forever over this one cleric?"

The player answered with a dead face- "I hate Eyaht"..."and i will kill every follower of that god, no matter if they good or evil"


The entire table feels this way...there has been many adventures since this god has come into divine power...and he has never cuased the players any problems, he actually HELPED them win the last campaign to save the world...seriously!

and still, they will die defending the gods they grew to know in this fantasy game, a hundred times over, to not only protect the good gods, but also the evil ones (since they are all brothers n sisters of each other..my gods are related).

One game they actually spoke directly to the new god, and they insisted on his destruction, and shared their hate with him...he told them he isnt a criminal to this realm, that he actually SAVED it, and is on the behalf of the people, not the politics of old bitter gods...

The party told him they thought he was lieing...so in a crazxy moment of divine action, he allowed the players the memory of every past PC they ever played...their PCs were temporarly, mentally, every PC they ever ran in my game...they were filled with memories of all the games they were in..and the one player who was ONCE the PC who turned into a god, learned that moment that HE was Eyaht in a past life...

the party was ashamed and angered at the same time...then the god offred them a dagger that he said was the only item he allowed enough power to kill him and handed it to the PC who once was the new god. He told him

"this can destroy me, but in truth it will destroy you, and all those lives that i would save in the future"

he stabbed the god in the gut...nothing happend. The god simply smiled and said "you have made your choice"

the god didnt die, he lied, he simply wanted a full understanding the entities that actually control the PCs (he is aware that there are players behind the players on some level, and that they are all reincarnations of the friends he had when he was mortal, the old PC group).

Now he watches them come and go through the years, keeping an eye on them, knowing they are devoted to his death, and that if he was to ever die it will be at the hands of these specile creatures who return in new form every few hundred years...and he knows they will not stop till he is dead....so he has plans for them.

For my own reasons of clearity, and my players request to keep things "as they really went down", the cleric was not decapataed (as i was reminded just now) she was belted in the head with a warmhammer that left the symbol of the palidine's (ill learn to spell it sumday)god Thain (not Thakus...wrong realm).

And I fully detailed the whole thing in a past post...if you care, its right here

cut-n-pasted for whatever reason...(stop reading now if you already had enough about this cleric's murder at the hands of "good"

At the end of an adventure a few years back, the party had thwarted a pack of roving clerics who claimed to be the first worshipers of a new god (a mortal PC who through great perils and many many adventures finally got into the God-tower and blessed himself as a true God).
The party didn't like this new-breed of church walking around in their tame lands preaching about this new god named Eyhat. After some questioning they decided the clerics to be of evil allignment, since they were clearly preaching about a new dawn of man where the only god to be worshiped would soon be the Uni-god; Eyhat.

The party, complete with a Palidine and cleric of good gods, confronted the messangers of this new faith in battle after the head cleric of the new god began to cast. The fight was quick and easy for the party (they were all above 5th level) since the wandering clerics were hardly a danger (The head cleric was 1st level and the rest were non-casting clerics of 0-level).

Now in the defence of the party, the head cleric of Eyhat did verbally tell them before the battle the "she was the mighty first priest of the new way of god" and that "she was more powerful then any of them could ever hope to become".

But as the swords began swinging, and the Eyhatiens fell one by one in under one round of combat, they decided that these dark clerics were of no real threat to a weathered party of true heros like themselvs.

So the good players ordered the evil head priest to surrender (her name was Gransenia by the way), and she did of course, seeing that her fellow worshipers had been slain in under 30 seconds. So the party ties her up, to a tree, and begins the interogation.

The PCs allow their cleric and Paladin to do the talking, seeing as they are blessed worshipers of the true old gods, and they start by asking the priest about the new god's view on balence and order. The priest spits blood on the white robes of the Paladin...He didn't like that, but he continued his interaction with this obveiously half-crude preistest of this new corrupt god named Eyhat.

The PC's cleric then asks "Where do you church? Where is this god's main building of worship? In what land?" The evil priestest replies by saying "Eyhat needs no church, nor a building to preach in. The new god, the Uni-god preaches that all gods are below him, and that the future shall bring new times of worship. New times where there is only one god. My god."

So the group gets all offended since they are all devote to a good god or another and they begin to say things like "We need to kill her." and "shes evil, lets just fire-ball her"

So the priestest begins to chant in some unknown tongue and the party gets scared. There has never been a mortal who achieved godhood in my realm, and her weird way of communicating through faces of dazed pleasure and soothing pain seemed to frieghten the players themselvs, nevermind the PCs. So in a fit of desperation, the good Paladin flips out and smashes her face with his mighty war-hammer, leaving the symbol that was engraved in the weapons head imprinted in the forhead of Grahsenia...She died instantly (3 hitpoints don't emount to crap when faced with a +2 holy hammer of the good god of rightious war; Thain)

So the party, shocked by the savage action of a Paladin murdering a bound and helpless hostage, freek out and start yelling at him. The paladin was instantly reduced to a simple warrior, loosing his god's blessing for his cowardly deed. And the group was angered that they didn't have a chance to really get the big-info from this cleric.

Alls they got to learn was that Grahsenia was the first casting cleric of the new god, and that she was seen as the head of this new church.

Lastr game (now about three years later - real time) that religeion has grown and is becoming quite the problem. Like a unholy virus many people turn towards Eyhat (who grants clerical power to almost anyone who simply speaks his name, or begs for power), and the religeion is slowly becoming a force to recon with. Since the new god delivers power to almost anyone who speaks of him with respect or grovels for his enlightment, the people of the world are slowly turning towards him for clerical power...since the other gods are more demanding of followers.

The party finally meets a wagon travling across wild country, preeching Ehyat's way, and they all decide to confront them. The party was completly new PCs, but they all had an out-of-game desire to meet up with these types again, since the last time the party had any contact with Eyhatien worshipers was that time meeting the first preistest.
When they found the wagon, it was guarded by 6 well armored warriors (5th level each)and a head cleric preaching ontop of a stage built into the wagon., The party was a lowly first-to-second levels, and they were simply here to listen and watch the preaching of these wandering unholy-men and woman. When the fires lit and the pyrotechnics exploded to reveal the speaker in all her glory, terror graced the faces of my players.

Speaking to the crowd of dirty villagers was a half crude woman with a Thain symbol burned into her forhead, x'ed out by a thick scar. The preistest was Grahsenia, who boasted about her death and her ressurection. teaching- those who serve Eyhat are unable to ever truly die, that his will is what will be.

This time the party was not ready for the fight, nor were they strong enough to ever hope surviving one with the cleric and her guard.
The evil cleric spoke in a huge booming voice of pride when she discribed how she was MURDERED by a worshiper of the "good gods" and that as Eyhat's first cleric she had also become the religeions first Martyr...and the party felt horrible...knowing fully well that murdering the head cleric had given her the ability to escape death and that she was not mortal anymore, her god had rewarded her everlasting life for her sacrifice at the hands of the murderous Paladin...

After the end of the clkerics speach she scanned the party and her glance fell upon the player who had killed her before. At the time he was a Paladin of mighty Thain, but now he was simply a thief of questionable alignment...His thief didnt know a damn thing about that past life...but somehow the preistest who was once murdered by his past PC, KNEW he was the one...she never said anything to him but her eyes spoke loud enough. The wagon packed up and moved on to other towns to spread the Eyhatien philosophie. and the party sulked away into the night in a somber mood.

It was finally nice to have my PCs morn an evil NPC who they did wrong. I know they will fear her the next time she returns to battle the party that murdered her. I have ploted her into the grande ending of the campaign we are playing now...and boy are they in for some rought times. Including a vision from Ehyat himself showing them the murder of his head preistest at the hands of their old PCs, a past life vision if you will.

Its gunna be great. Its gunna be creepy. Its gunna be the powerful preistest marytr of a new god-kicking ass for both evil and warrented reveng...how sweet.