file It’s the 28th of October, so I still have a chance to take part in this month’s blog carnival hosted by Games of State. The topic this month is morality, in-game and in real life and luckily the carnival announcement comes with a handy list of questions for us to answer. Here are mine:

  • What are your limits as a player?
    Part of playing roleplaying games is combat, so killing NPCs is usually unavoidable, sometimes even wanted. While I would never kill in real life, I don’t think about it much, when my character fights real evil or is attacked. But I usually try to find peaceful solutions, even when playing a fighter. Sometimes a bit of intimidation goes a long way.
    I totally abhor torture, even in a game. I once almost attacked a fellow player character because he wanted to torture a prisoner.
    In most cases my in-game and real life moralities match. My in-game me is probably a bit more violent than I am in real life. But that comes with the job description of being an adventurer in most games.
  • How evil can you be?
    Not at all. I utterly fail at playing evil characters. I tried it, I just can’t do it. Even the evil Tremere vampire I once rolled up kept doing good deeds. As a GM I can play really evil NPCs but as a player I am always the goody two-shoes. I’ve played some characters that looked foul but were fair, much like Strider appeared to the hobbits when they first met. But they always have their hearts in the right spot, even if they don’t look the part.
  • Do you just like to play by alignment or do you like a more realistic moral system?
    If you ask me rules for alignment/moral systems in games are totally unnecessary. But when the game forces me to pick an alignment I usually chose something that fits my character best but use it as some kind of recommendation, not as hard rule. As a player you should never feel restrained by an alignment to do something that fits your character’s concept.
    But I think my players and I never cared that much for alignments.
  • What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done as a player?
    I once played a privateer captain in a homebrew fantasy campaign. When one of my crew (a NPC) who has been my protégé betrayed me, I had him nail to the ship’s mast where I let him die. This probably crossed the line, but I thought it was what the character would have done in this situation. Usually he was not as cruel.
  • How much difference is there between your real life morals and your in-game morals?
    I think I already talked about this. Most of the time, my characters’ morals are pretty close to my real life morals.
  • If a God mandates Kobolds are evil and must be destroyed, could your character kill a Kobold pup in cold blood?
    No. I once played a paladin who was attacked by a couple of orcs. What my character didn’t know when he killed them, was that these orcs had been a family that left an orc baby behind. So my paladin took care of the baby until he found someone who was willing to raise it.
    Even when I play religious characters (which seems to be kind of odd for an atheist) I tend to question dogma (which is not that odd for an atheist). When the GM is nice enough and the god is reasonable this poses no problems. But I would be willing to face the wrath of a god in any game if my personal morals contradict those of the god.

I’ve to admit it’s not easy writing about this topic because questions of morality are usually very personal. And sometimes a player character’s action reflect on the personality of the player. As always I am very interested in your comments. So feel free to post your thoughts below.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

2 thoughts on “Morality”

  1. I too find it difficult to separate my own biases, morals, and ethics from my characters. But I find it useful to sometimes pick characters with questionable or gray moral fibers to explore some of those aspects of myself. Often I find that things aren't as black and white as I might have thought, which continues the grand experiment of gaming.

    Thanks for sharing your views!
    .-= Fitz´s last blog ..Tonight: Playtest in Colorado Springs! =-.

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