1.3 – Shyaen and the Moral system.
A brief digression into the central game idea here.
The DnD ruleset has an alignment system. I’m not here to discuss the minutiae of how it actually works. There are more than enough nerds on the internet to do that, but I did think it would have been an interesting system to play with in terms of a game of influence and character growth. I wanna retroactively say that this idea was borne out of trying to figure out how to write a good character arc into a game with a decent game-play idea tied to it, but I forgot how exactly the idea came about. Either way, the idea is that we take a character who’s original alignment is Neutral, and we change that in the course of the story. Obviously, that character could not be the player character, since people want some form of choice in their RPGs and come with their own predisposed alignment already. So I had to write a second character.
That character is Shyaen.
After the Kobold quest, Shyaen will initiate a conversation with you in which she questions the result of the actions you have taken. Since the quests really only ends in one way, (you kill the Kobold Chief and almost all the Kobolds), the conversation becomes a discussion on why you did what you had to do. Depending on how you completed the quest, and whether you actually tried to help the Kobolds by stealing the Giant Ruby, the conversation can go in 4 different ways.
1> The kobolds had to be killed. They’re evil creatures and that’s the only way to deal with evil creatures. No mention of Rroak’s tribes or the necessity of action. (Leads to Lawful, self-righteous judgment, Deontological Ethics.)
2> We were helping Rroak who would in turn help us, also; the Kobolds were trying to kill us as well. There’s little need for moralizing when lives are at stake. (Leads to Chaotic, survival instincts, Utilitarian Philosophy)
If you had tried to reason with the Kobold Chief and even managed to retrieve the Giant Ruby from the Spider Cave.
3> We had tried reason, and we were betrayed. Sometimes, there are few courses of action as necessitates the slaughter of Kobolds. (Leads to Lawful Evil, cynical resignation, consequentialism ethics.)
4> We had tried reason, and we were betrayed. The important thing is that we tried. We can’t let the evilness of other creatures affect that. (Leads to Good, establishment of principals, Virtue Ethics.)
Yeah, the game is a more fun version of an ethics class.
At this point, Shyaen essentially does not have a world view. Her backstory is also somewhat muddied for you as the player because she refuses to talk about it. You do know that she comes from a noble family in a large city, and that she has suffered a large amount of abuse and trauma before this point. Her character isn’t so much innocent as having have had her old world-view shattered before her. Your job, and thus the crux of the game, is to influence the formation the world view she will eventually have. This will, in theory, lead to a thrilling and emotional climax for her character arc. That’s was the story idea anyway. The rest of game is moving through a series of circumstances and events as you accompany Shyaen back to her city. These events will spark discussions with Shyaen about the nature of the world and will eventually help shape her world view and the final act of the game.
I’ll deal with each of these circumstances as it comes up, but for now, the Kobold village was a primer for this and as far as ethical conundrums go, is a relatively simple one.
Next Up: Voodoo Tribes and Lost Gods.