[4E D&D] Justifying Eating

Okay, killing an orc or gnoll, that I can see. It's kill or be killed in most of those situations, or at least it would be if you let them win the initiative roll. But that hassenpfeffer you're cooking on the campfire after a long day of adventuring? Come on! How can you call yourself good aligned when you indiscriminately kill and eat rabbits and onions with a 5th level druid in the party who can prove demonstratively that they're sentient?

And don't think you 3rd Edition diehards have any moral high ground here. You've known for much, much longer what sins you commit when you nosh.

And don't give me your Traveller's Feast workarounds. Even if that food was conjured out of nowhere and not just poached from extraplanar kitchens, by the time you've reached 4th level, you've killed more than your fair share. As far as I'm concern, the new alignment system should have been boiled down to fruitarian and chaotic evil.
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Comments

  • Dude, clearly you just have to start liking the taste of orc and gnoll if you want to be a moral adventurer. I mean, it's a shame to let all that meat go to waste (takes so much plant and animal matter to produce it in the first place, after all). And it's not like the gnoll wasn't going to eat you.
  • Excellent point.

    I think I have a wonderful recipe for myconid masala around here somewhere.
  • Start taking away healing surges for not eating, and you'll see parties begin to more closely consider the ethics around consumption real fast...
  • Maybe the orcs you go out and fight are actually food that escapes, like that cow in Queens.
  • If you think that rabbit was an innocent, you've clearly never spent any time on a farm. They're like rats, but with banshee screams and bigger teeth.
  • Think of the magical item implications, e.g., the Sauce of Many Colors, the Crock-Pot of Holding, Elven Ginsu Knives, and the Vorpal BBQ Shank.
  • edited May 2009
    Druidic evidence is not entirely conclusive. Certain druids have claimed to be able to communicate with animals, but these have not been controlled experiments. Other explanations are possible for the communication: perhaps, for example, the druids merely interpret behavioural cues. Certainly, we cannot conclude that animals are sentient: even if we did, that does not necessarily imply we should not eat them.

    Having said that, I'd love to GM an adventure where druids communicate with animals as follows:

    Druid: Have you seen a wizard passing this way?
    Bird: Oh, like I care. I'm looking for some seed. Have you seen any?


    Or, alternatively, an adventure where being a druid is a flaw, because animals stop you and bother you all the time.

    Vulture: Hello, you're a druid, aren't you? Have you seen any carrion?
    Druid: Look, I'm just casting a spell.
    Vulture: OK, well, if you just tell me where carrion is, I'll get out of your way.
    Druid: Look, go away. We are in combat. Can't you tell from the way we're standing exact multiples of 10 feet from each other?
    Vulture: Oh, good, I'll hang around, then.


    Graham
  • Posted By: EricIf you think that rabbit was an innocent, you've clearly never spent any time on a farm. They're like rats, but with banshee screams and bigger teeth.
    But the onion? Will no one weep for the onion?
  • @Graham *golfclap*

    As a player of a character with Low Speech in BW, I can attest to the fact that conversation with your average rodentia goes a bit more like this:
    PC: Say, there, my little rat friend!
    Rat: Big pink boots-stomping thing. FLEE!
    PC: No, no, I won't hurt you. Nice rat. I'm a friend!
    Rat: *shiff* No garbage on ya. Sex?
    PC: No, I don't want to mate. I'm trying to find a way into the sewers.
    Rat: Water. Garbage.
    PC: Yes, where the water and garbage goes; can you lead me to it.

    Rat scurries off, leads PC to a minuscule crack in a drain culvert, and shimmies into it.

    PC: Hey, wait! I mean somewhere *I* can get into the sewers.
    Rat: Ah, go mate yourself....
  • It should be pretty obvious by now that the ability to hold a conversation is in no way proof of sentience.
  • My first 4th edition character pretty much rationalized the senseless slaughter this exact way - he was a dwarf, from a dwarven homeland where "kobolds are both a staple and delicacy". When confronted with evidence of kobold intelligence he'd staunchly explain it all away as mere "behaviour". Planned starting a dwarven restaurant in Winterhaven, as the town seemed to have a quite healthy population of kobolds in its hunting grounds.

    I rather liked the dark humour of the character, it sort of ruined the game for me when he was unseremoniously killed in combat. Waste of innovative characterization, that sort of thing. I'll have to make a point of bringing the character back sometime, if I ever stumble into a straight-laced D&D campaign.
  • Ah, that's nothing--I played a Gnome Supremacist in WoW for quite a while. He would sermonize on a street corner, arguing that humans were invented by gnomes as servant beasts, but the evil "Elves of Darkness" played a trick, made humans smart enough to effectively hide their women and offspring, and the next thing you know there's humans all over the joint, driving gnomes into dangerous population congestion, requiring even more dangerous power production technologies (*ahem* which explains "The Tragedy of Gnomeregan"). I can't right now recall what made dwarves such assholes in his worldview, but it might have been something like being too fat and tall and taxing food resources too much. Or something.

    Ah, yeah... nothing like the "religious debates" I had on the common chat channel, with that character. Hehe... folks would slam down a dueling flag and I'd cry, "YES! Another convert, another believer raises his banner to salute the wisdom of Gnome Supremacy!" Drove 'em fucking batshit....

    My favorite thing was to have a chicken or some-such targeted at all times, and then say something like "Can I get a witness, Brother Thokrit?!?" (Thokrit was my void stalker--I was a warlock that looked like Mario. Fuck, they all looked like Mario or Wario, though, right?) On that cue, I'd hit the Pet Attack button, and he'd float over and squash the chicken. "A creature of few words, is Brother Thokrit, ladies and gentlemen of the congregation. Moving along..."
  • Posted By: Epidiah RavacholAnd don't think you 3rd Edition diehards have any moral high ground here. You've known formuch,muchlonger what sins you commit when you nosh.
    In previous editions of D&D, Druids *had* to be Neutrally aligned. It was precisely for this reason, IMO.

    "I'm a good person, I'm in favor of justice and righteousness. But at the same time, there is an underlying natural order of things; life feeds on life". Probably praying for every soul they feed off of.

    -Andy
  • Posted By: Epidiah RavacholPosted By: EricIf you think that rabbit was an innocent, you've clearly never spent any time on a farm. They're like rats, but with banshee screams and bigger teeth.
    But the onion? Will no one weep for the onion?
    The onion was carrying a substantial payload of chemical weapons. In fact, it launched an attack using syn-propanethial-S-oxide, which includes sulfuric acid - thankfully, the threat was neutralized before substantial damage could occur, but one party member sustained chemical burn damage to the eyes. You may as well weep for a suicide bomber strapped with dynamite and heading for a playground.
  • Hmmm... character idea spark!

    A paladin that will only eat Animal-intelligence-or-lower, evil-aligned creatures (or, I suppose, plants).

    Is he still GOOD?!?

    Another thought: can a Troll life off it's own flesh? Would it be GOOD, then, rather than eating halflings (which--remember!--are now MONSTERS! RARR!)?

    And closing: if a paladin captures but never KILLS a Troll, and only lops off a leg every week or so to roast over an open fire, is he still GOOD?!?

    God... I never knew there was so much ethical quandary in good ol' D&D. makes DitV look like Reservoir Dogs. (Wait, don't most DitV games eventually turn into Reservoir Dogs?)
  • Posted By: David Artman(Wait, don't most DitV games eventually turn intoReservoir Dogs?)
    Yes. Yes they do. (^.^)

    Going back to the pre-4e days, I was suddenly struck by a thought: What would a Neutral Evil Druid look like?

    My thoughts:
    * Eco-terrorist
    * A druid who thinks the world of man, anything 'yay' higher over the base relationships of the animal kingdom, is to be reviled and destroyed as an affront to the natural way of things.
    * So aligned to the spirit/natural world that he can no longer function in society
    * etc
  • Posted By: AndyIn previous editions of D&D, Druids *had* to be Neutrally aligned.
    "It was BAD to kill this rabbit, but it tastes GOOD."

    Graham
  • I figured that druids should have sneaky ways to avenge the death of gastronomic critters. Like spicing up the rabbit stew with psilocybin mushrooms.
    image
  • edited May 2009
    Posted By: HexabolicThink of the magical item implications, e.g., the Sauce of Many Colors, the Crock-Pot of Holding, Elven Ginsu Knives, and the Vorpal BBQ Shank.
    As per usual, Kingdom of Loathing is way, way ahead of the curve, here:

    Wok of Ages
    Food!

    Of course, you would expect nothing less from a game that has Sauceror and Pastamancer as main classes...
  • It's a running joke in my campaign that the speak with plants spell is utterly useless.

    Druid: Tree! Did you see which way the gnoll hunting party went?
    Tree: Nope. No eyes dude. I have been getting some sweet photosynthesis lately though. And when it rained last week. Niceeeeeee.
  • [Pedant Mode]

    For the record...ALL animals are sentient. And depending on where you draw the line, many / most plants are too.

    Sentient simply means they have senses. They can sense their surroundings and react to stimuli.


    The word you're trying to use is Sapient...as in Homo Sapiens...which means displaying wisdom and a capacity for judgment (which is distinct from instinct).

    [/Pedant Mode]
  • Posted By: Valamir[Pedant Mode]

    For the record...ALL animals are sentient. And depending on where you draw the line, many / most plants are too.

    Sentient simply means they have senses. They can sense their surroundings and react to stimuli.


    The word you're trying to use is Sapient...as in Homo Sapiens...which means displaying wisdom and a capacity for judgment (which is distinct from instinct).

    [/Pedant Mode]
    ::pushes up glasses::
    Well, we can only conclude the two are synonymous in D&D where Wisdom equals your senses.
  • Hah!
    Touche...
  • Sentient has a few different meanings, but it rarely means just "can sense things". It's about generating meaning from the things you sense.

    See, now Ralph is thinking: why doesn't this forum have way to decide between the two meanings? This ruleset is broken.

    Graham
  • Posted By: GrahamSentienthas a few different meanings
    No, it doesn't, according to paid authorites. Not that I can find, at least. :P

    (I think I'd give up a big toe, to get folks to stop using Wikipedia as an authority on the English language... or just abut anything else.)
  • edited May 2009
    Yes, exactly. "Having the power of perception by the senses; conscious". Shall we stop diverting the thread, now?

    Graham
  • Posted By: HexabolicThink of the magical item implications, e.g., the Sauce of Many Colors, the Crock-Pot of Holding, Elven Ginsu Knives, and the Vorpal BBQ Shank.
    In one long-running campaign, as a result of a failed enchantment spell, our group owned a Carpet of Frying.
  • Posted By: David Artman(I think I'd give up a big toe, to get folks to stop using Wikipedia as an authority on the English language... or just abut anything else.)
    Dude, cause Websters is so much better. ;)
  • Posted By: Josh RobyDude, cause Websters is so much better. ;)
    Interesting. So:
    * I smoke dope. All the folks I know smoke dope. Therefore, dope is legal.
    * I check the NC General Statutes. LO! Dope is NOT legal.
    * Therefore, the NC General Statues are invalid--they don't conform to my "exhaustive" (pun intended) survey.

    C'mon, nigga, please.

    (Sorry for derailing, Graham. I'm a slut for denotation. And weak-sauce "refutations.")
  • Posted By: Epidiah RavacholAs far as I'm concern, the new alignment system should have been boiled down to fruitarian and chaotic evil.
    Hilarious! Thanks man, for sharing this with us! Have never thought of it that way, and it sure makes it more fun to ponder the dangers of over-eating!
  • Thank you! But please, can we not let the humor and praise stand in the way of a semantics argument.

    I'd like to know the minimum ability scores for a sentient critter and the minimum ability scores for a sapient critter.

    Bonus question: In 4E, ability mods go up by one every two levels for player character and beast alike. Does this mean higher level beasts are more sentient and/or sapient?
  • That's not a difficult question, Epidiah: the human minimum ability in D&D is classically 3 (although it's been a while since the rules mandated actually playing anybody with abilities under 8), so anything under that is sub-human. If we go with Peter Singer on the philosophical definition of sentience (that is, the human minimum defines a minimal bound for ethically significant sentience because we refuse to eat developmentally disadvantaged people), then we can say with certainty that anything with a 3 in Intelligence (for sapience) or Wisdom (for sentience) is definitely too sentient in the wide sense of the word to be eaten. I'd say that common sense puts sapient animals at 2 and less sapient ones at 1 point. So if you'd consider a smart animal like a dolphin sapient, then the limit is at 2 points - either Int or Wis at 2 or higher makes for a sapient critter.

    As for 4th edition, aren't those ability modifiers allocated to specific abilities? If so, then the higher level beast is not necessarily more sapient if the modifiers are put to other abilities. Of course, looking at the canonical statistics of typical animals in D&D, most of them seem to be easily more sentient than half of the human population, so this is a pretty moot question.
  • I think it's likely that, for example, deer have high Wisdom (3) and low Intelligence (0 or 1). They couldn't find their way out of a maze, but they stay the fuck away from trouble.

    Generally, I think it is unethical to eat things of Intelligence 3 or more; but it is difficult to catch things of Wisdom 3 or more.

    Graham
  • [really pedantic mode]

    The description "sentient" derives from Aristotelian description of a tripartite soul: Vegetative (allowing growth), Sensitive (feeling and perception) and Rational (logical thought). Plants have vegetative souls; animals, vegetative and sensitive souls; and humans, the full set of vegetative, sensitive, and rational. Thus, by definition, animals can feel, but not think--and that's why we can eat them.

    Because Aristotle was right about everything.

    [/really pedantic mode.]
  • Posted By: GrahamI think it's likely that, for example, deer have high Wisdom (3) and low Intelligence (0 or 1). They couldn't find their way out of a maze, but they stay the fuck away from trouble.

    Generally, I think it isunethicalto eat things of Intelligence 3 or more; but it isdifficult to catchthings of Wisdom 3 or more.

    Graham
    I can't help chuckling at the sentiment expressed here, while noticing Graham's icon is a chef!
  • Posted By: Epidiah RavacholAs far as I'm concern, the new alignment system should have been boiled down to fruitarian and chaotic evil.
    Nonsense. Lawful evil just means you follow the recipe exactly.
  • Posted By: Epidiah RavacholAnd don't think you 3rd Edition diehards have any moral high ground here. You've known formuch,muchlonger what sins you commit when you nosh.
    Except that we know from those spells, and what the druid tells us, is that it is right and proper to eat them. That is what they are asking us to do.

    And if you want to get less tongue and cheek, you give thanks to the gods/the spirits for placing them there/giving their life to you.
  • In Runequest, Trolls consider other beings as just different kinds of noisy food. Elves are plants or mushrooms, dwarves are rocks, humans cattle. To a troll, there's nothing much nicer than some batter fried pixie. There are even some illustrations of Troll snacks in some of the books.
  • Posted By: David Artman
    A paladin that will only eat Animal-intelligence-or-lower, evil-aligned creatures (or, I suppose, plants).
    Different kind of pedant: Creatures with Animal level intelligence don't get alignment (sometimes they get lumped in with Neutrals, depending on edition) since they can't do moral reasoning and therefore cannot get blamed for their immoral acts.

    Except weirdly the giant octopus is actively evil.
    Posted By: David Artman
    Another thought: can a Troll life off it's own flesh? Would it be GOOD, then, rather than eating halflings (which--remember!--are now MONSTERS! RARR!)?
    In Eberron, Trolls do eat their own flesh and survive off of it. It normally tastes horrible, but the trolls use lots of spices to keep it edible. This allows the mind flayers and medusas that run Graywall to feed a small city of monsters without any particular source of income for the city.

    And it's gnomes that are monsters now, not halflings. Or gnomes were monsters, until the PHBII came out. Still good eating, though.
  • Intelligence is not necessary for having an alignment; being against the natural order degreed by St. Gygax is enough. Undead are an example of this, they are inherently evil whether mindless or not. This doesn't even have anything to do with having an existence predicated on killing people - spells that create undead are already stained by evil, no matter why you'd want to cast them. In 3rd edition vermin were somehow suspicious as well, if I remember correctly.
  • Octopi are evil because that's what mindflayers are descended from. Evil runs in their family.

    Plus, tentacles. That makes you at least 50% more evil.
  • i fucking hate aristotle.
  • Posted By: fnord3125i fucking hate aristotle
    He doesn't mind.
  • Posted By: fnord3125i fucking hate aristotle.
    The only solution is to eat him.
  • Posted By: fnord3125i fucking hate aristotle.
    Yes. He's even more overrated than Platon.
  • Posted By: KripplerPlaton
    Isn't that now considered a planetoid? Or do you mean the Vietnam movie?
  • Your druid is not high enough level. You need one who can pull off Awaken, so that he can make your dinner sentient.

    Also: You give me a box full of trolls, and I'll give you a group of trolls who don't want to eat themselves to survive. Non-conservation of mass + biological waste = very full box.
  • Your D&D party has just met in a tavern. The obligatorily buxom serving wench has brought over menus. You have the next four hours of game time and real time to decide what to order and consume your meals.

    As a player, the one thing you must do is avoid playing D&D the wrong way. What do you do?
  • I get the GM to LARP out me having sex with the buxom serving wench while we're waiting for our meal.

    Trust me, this is not wrong.
  • Claim: Ethics are reactions to an environment. If a person needs to do something to survive, or even to make survival more convenient, they will ethically justify it. Issues of morality (vegetarianism among them) are a luxury that comes out of having basically survival neutral choices.

    Thus: Humans in D&D, being omnivores, have found a way to ethically justify eating whatever the fuck they want, no matter if it talks or not. Or, more likely, they just don't think about it too hard.

    yrs--
    --Ben
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