Orlanthi Morality, etc.

Nick Brooke (100656.1216@CompuServe.COM)
27 Jun 96 10:59:11 EDT

Peter Maranci raises an interesting moral question:

> The PCs, a group of young Orlanthi and Odayla Initiates, went on an
> impromptu Lunar hunting expedition. They waited in ambush next to a 
> large road, and after letting several large groups go by they dry-gulched 
> a lone Lunar messenger. The messenger never had a chance -- he was shot 
> many times before he took a step.

> It seemed to me that this was a morally questionable act, even dis-
> honorable. Others have argued that no standard of morality applies 
> when dealing with Lunars, since they are allied with Chaos. I realize 
> that both of these viewpoints would exist in the Orlanthi culture, but
> I wonder which would be closer to the general consensus. 

Well, Orlanthi Poetry shows us that there is a standard way of challenging even
Chaos foes ("Foul Slime, Curse of Existence, Begone!"), while ideal Humakti
honour shows us they disapprove of poison, ambush, murder, etc. If the PCs had
stepped forth and made this challenge before butchering their opponent from
afar, I am sure the story would go down better in the mead-halls. Since they
didn't, I suspect they won't be bragging about what they did -- not if they want
to be thought of as good Wind Lord material, at any rate.

I think it'd be hard to address the moral question without knowing more about
the characters in question. Coming from the remote lands around Alone, it seems
unlikely they have any personal beef with the Lunar Empire (fathers killed,
mothers raped, brothers enslaved, you know the stuff). If they are just popping
off into the hills to kill random passers-by, I'd be very suspicious of their
morality. If some big influential local figure, whether family or religious or
social (father/priest/chief) has told them to do this, then *he* can take
responsibility for the consequences when a squadron ("large group") of Char-Un
Cossacks is sent to sort out the local bandit problem (and the whole of their
community suffers as a result).

Easiest to say that they're young and don't know any better: they don't
understand the consequences of their actions. Probably when they mature they
will take on the responsibility for sorting out the Bad Things which their rash
murderous antics have caused to happen: that's the Orlanthi Way!

Maybe giving your players (out of game) some real-world examples of the kind of
behaviour their characters are indulging in (murder, terrorism, spurious
religious arguments that their enemies are "unpersons") would be helpful, if it
distresses you to see them behaving in such a cold and inconsiderate manner. (I
gave up DnD when I discovered what "genocide" meant).

Or else, within the game, have their actions praised by people they should
dislike (uncouth Storm Bullies, cold Death Lords, arrogant Swords), or condemned
by people they love and trust (parents, chieftains, wives, healers, merchants,
sages). Or introduce them to some "nice" Lunars (healers, teachers, explorers,
humble conscripts). This may be kinder than inflicting the reasonable
consequences of their actions upon them, and will probably interfere less with
the direction of the campaign. (Besides, it may lead them to behave the way you
want them to, which makes GMing *far* easier!).

Me, I think they were dishonourable, and pretending that "All Lunars Are
Chaotic" is silly and immature. But then, I can identify with that murdered
messenger more easily than with the teenaged killers who pretended he was fair
game. Bad cess to them, and to their god if He approved.

Chris Pearce replies:

>> (You would also be a powergaming twit with no respect for the myths
>> of your people, but that's another topic).

> Not the Arkat thread again...

I thought it was the *Argrath* thread myself... :-)

David Dunham asks:

> Alas, while my Gustbran question generated some discussion, nobody seems 
> to have an opinion about Orlanthi tribal kings and clan chieftains. How
> practical is it to be both?

Throughout history, the role of chieftain/paterfamilias/head of household/party
leader has been held by major political figures who ought to be "above" such
things. Nobody is suggesting, surely, that the confused state of Bill Clinton's
family affairs renders him unsuitable to be President of the U.S? Or that his
position as a Democrat makes it impossible for him to represent the U.S.
internationally in a non-partisan manner? (Any Anglophobes can look at Prinny's
political manoeuvrings for a comeback).

Orlanthi politics become more interesting if it's possible to allege corruption
and nepotism and non-disinterested involvement against the tribal kings. I would
be amazed to learn it is *impossible* to be both a king and a chieftain; I would
expect this normally to be the case. Then the King has a moral/tribal duty to
act disinterestedly, but a family/clan duty to support his own people against
the outside world. It's a big conflict, and conflict builds plots!

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