White / Black Morality

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IAmCadai's picture.
Assistant Storyhost - ASH1
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11 months 1 week ago
White / Black Morality

Perhaps it is just through my own perspective, but I've started to notice a general trend in sessions both Vaxia and Sirian as of late. What makes a story interesting is not just the journey, but also the end result; what characters walk away with. While I enjoy a journey as much as the next fellow, and our journeys here on Vaxia have been plenty varied, and I can't help but feel our results are always the same: Happy Endings.

Of course, this is to be expected. Many characters here on Vaxia tend to play with a sense of high morality, or at least enough to prevent them from doing anything that is too far off the charts. I also understand that moral characters would not be up to the idea of participating in "bad" activities. However, I believe it is possible for all characters to still have the heroic "good" journey without having a "good" ending. Many RPG's as of late acheive this through the method of choice, and I believe Vaxia can benefit from it as well.

I'm not suggesting black and white morality, of course. As I've stated before, a majority of characters lean toward good when given a choice between right and wrong. That is why I suggest we begin to dabble in gray morality. Gray morality is the idea that in some cases, there is no "right vs. wrong", but rather one choice versus the other. From the white moral perspective, this can be seen as choosing between helping one group of people versus another while from a black morality, this would be dooming one side or another. By making all options for characters equally valid, I think we can have greater self discovery in our characters through their philosophy (needs of one vs. needs of the group) rather than their simple morality (good vs. evil) which over simplifies solutions to problems. Who knows, it may even given certain characters the motivation to find strange or creative solutions to problems in order to reach the white/black solutions despite the circumstances.

I'm probably butchering the concept and most likely the enormity of subjects we could use with this method, but that is why I'm curious to hear from the rest of you. As I have said, this is mostly my opinion coupled with concept. I would love to hear your comments and criticism whether positive or negative. Even if the idea is extremely flawed or you disagree, perhaps at least you'll give the idea consideration and understand why it would not work. Either way, I'd love to hear from you.


Bastlynn's picture.
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2 months 6 days ago
*chuckle* I've held off on

chuckle I've held off on those plots for a little bit as they tend towards complex and multi-session for my design style, and when I'm doing a one-shot-session I keep it simple. Otherwise, I tend to mix it in there.

Madius's picture.
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2 days 20 hours ago
Gray Matter

I agree completely - I think there's always worth in exploring both pyrrhic endings and gray morality when appropriate, at least as part of the plots available. There'll always be players who like a good straightforward moral victory with no catch, so we shouldn't abandon those entirely - but they also shouldn't be the only kind of plot out there.

Gray plots do involve a lot more unpredictability, though, which can be a huge challenge for an A/SH, so I suspect they'll always be a bit on the rarer side just by sheer nature that more complex things take more time and effort to plan. But we've certainly had them in the past and I think it's a good reminder that they're welcome and a needed part of the available plots out there.

Thankfully, Sirian in its current state is pretty ripe for them >.> now that the wheels are turning again, it shouldn't be a long wait, I expect.

LadyKirsten's picture.
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1 day 18 hours ago

Hm. I have to say, it's a very interesting concept. I suppose that I never thought of it that way. Hee hee. Perhaps that's the difference between us. I see the outcomes as being happy because of the choices that have been made. There's always a chance that the players will roll poorly, or they'll have a bad strategy and get people killed or fail at whatever outcome they were working toward. To me the 'journey' or 'reward' is knowing that your decisions were smart/clever enough to end well for everyone involved. However there have been many sessions that have endings that while technically "happy" don't end that way for everyone. I think the most recent session in Sirian is an example of that. People died, and the party barely escaped. Or even recently with Tanya's session where Alphonse died. They were there to do the right thing, but he was killed which leads to a fantastic outcome for the lurai, but a terrible one for all the other pc's in the session. Most of the characters who were there are still picking up the pieces.

One of the nice things about sessions is the fact that afterward you can feel like you made a difference. You made the world safer or you affected it in some way. After all, that's what we're all doing when we play. We're trying to share in a story that we're all writing together. Making sessions dark or morally ambiguous just for the sake of variation doesn't really help create diversity or excitement in my opinion. To me more session hooks that cater to a 'morally grey' crowd would do a better job of that than just adding them in randomly. We need to get better with our session set ups. In the signups we're telling more than we used to about what a session will entail, and I'm sure there's a happy medium between that and giving away the entire thing.

The sticking point for me, is often times even if you set up something that is morally grey, or even darker than that, people will want to play their characters in the way that they're designed. Not all sessions are right for all characters. So making sessions that have multiple outcomes tends to end the way people want to play them. I worry that forcing them to "choose" between two (or more) outcomes that are equally bad can start to feel like railroading them. Like you say, it could lead to creative solutions, but it could also just lead to people wondering why they are damned if they do and damned if they don't right from the start.

When I set up a session I have several possible outcomes planned. Both good and bad. I put the hook up, and then it's up to the players to decide. Most recently with the dream session. That was entirely down to the rolls. If they hadn't rolled high enough to calm the man down, they would have killed him. So even putting the choice in the player's hands often ends with happy endings.

That's just my rambling thoughts on it. However, I definitely think it's an interesting idea to explore. :)

Zxehenia's picture.
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5 hours 14 min ago
It also depends on what you

It also depends on what you consider a happy ending as well.

The problem with morality in general is that it is kind of subjective, and what one may view as moral another may not. If you would like I think I still have some of my papers from my theory of justice class where I had to discuss the variety of morals, ethics and other concepts of which have evolved to bear our current ideas of laws, justice, and morality in general.

I am actually running a saga currently that may not have a happy ending, so far actually, it hasn't been much happy at all considering one fairy kid no longer has his wings and another one was killed. I have not had the chance to continue said saga due to the 2 remaining alive and actively played characters having been caught up in another session.

However as pointed out Sirian is ripe for a lot of tough situations to come forth, and once we get new setting leads and get some information updated and added that will also help provide other a/sh's with ideas as well. For in order for a 'gray morality' plot to go, there is some information that some people need in order to help inspire them, and currently that information just isn't there for the moment.

TheGodEmperor's picture.
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3 months 1 week ago
Really late to the party

"If you would like I think I still have some of my papers from my theory of justice class where I had to discuss the variety of morals, ethics and other concepts of which have evolved to bear our current ideas of laws, justice, and morality in general."

Slowly raises hand I would like that.

As for the actual topic, I feel I'm not really experienced enough at running sessions to say much of anything. But trying to force a grey morality choice on the player seems like it could very easily lead to less freedom.