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The Grand Falloon

Mercy Killing and Conflict

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   One of my minor villains that I've introduced is an Acolyte of the Inquisition, by the name of Otana Ziveri.  He's dangerous, but not nearly as fearsome as his master.  The players have already defeated him once, and even took his lightsaber.  I imagine the next time they face him, they'll defeat him quite handily, at which point, I intend to have Ziveri beg them to kill him.  Ziveri knows that, after this defeat, his master will send him to yet another villain called "The Sculptor."  The Sculptor is basically our Josef Mengele character, who takes some creative liberties with the Heal/Harm power.  If anyone remembers the Tzimisce Clan, from the Vampire: the Masquerade RPG, they had a power that would let them sculpt flesh like clay, and of course they used it to create all sorts of twisted horrors.  Ziveri, understandably, is more terrified of The Sculptor than he is of death, which will hopefully pose an interesting moral dilemma to my players.  It may take some prodding, but he can divulge this to the PCs.

   The way I see it, there are a few options.  The first is to kill him as he asks.  This is definitely worth a healthy dump of Conflict.  I'm thinking 10.  Another is to just walk away and leave him to his fate. I feel like this should at least be Knowing Inaction, but more, because you're straight-up abandoning the guy.  Another is to bind him and bring him along as a prisoner, which our Guardian might actually go for, and attempt to turn him from the Dark Side.  I suppose they might also toss him a blaster and say, "Good Luck, buddy!"

   I'm curious what kind of Conflict y'all would award for the various things players might try.  I think this scenario illustrates the discrepancy between what the Force considers "good," and what different moral outlooks hold to.  I've told my players that there will be times when I absolutely agree that their action was the right thing to do, but they will still take Conflict for it. The "shining good guy" possibility would probably  fall under "Lawful Stupid" for some groups.

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One thing to understand about Conflict, is it's not just a measure of bad actions people take.  It's a measure of them being conflicted about the actions they have taken.    It's not a good/bad measure, despite the fact that the chart in the book is pretty much nothing but examples of bad actions.   

I think if they kill him, it depends on how/why they kill him.  If their mood is basically "sure thing bud, never liked you anyway, HIKEEBA!"  and just pwn him, without any emotional thought to it at all.  Yeah, you should definitely consider it an evil action.  Because clearly they don't care about taking a life casually like that.    If they at least try and show the NPC compassion before the kill, I think that should be acknowledged in some way.   You know, if they do things like ask him if he has any message to give to a family member, or some other kind of final wish that they would do on his behalf, to honor him.   if they do something like that, yeah, they should still get conflict, but I don't think it should be 10.  I think it should be 8.   It's not as bad (in my opinion) as cold heartedly killing someone.  They are saving him from a potentially harsher fate, and did the killing with some measure of honor and humanity.    Just like how the people who actually do real life executions aren't as bad as the murderers they put down.   It's nothing personal, they are just doing what must be done.   To me, this should be measured by having the amount be less.  So there is a small chance that they might come out on top, Morality wise, that session.

If they decide to try and save the guy, and redeem him, sweet.  That sounds like it would be a fun story arc.   

Abandoning him, knowing full well what his fate will be, yeah that should be up there too.  I'd say equal to killing him.  8 Conflict.   They aren't killing him, and he might survive, but considering what they know he will suffer, that's a serious jerk move.

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I have to wonder: if he knows that's what he'll be sent to do next... why report back? Force-users have a long-standing tradition of going into exile (hiding) whenever things have gone badly wrong.

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It would definitely be a more situational thing in this case. I agree with Ferret if they're just like lulz ok *slice!* then yea full 10 conflict. And i would do this for each player who was involved. If they end up killing him after trying to convince him to join them or something else in the vein of trying to spare his life I would give them like 5 instead.

Edited by MamoruK

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Killing a helpless person is still murder, even if they're asking for a mercy kill.

While the suggested Conflict chart says that things like Murder and Torture are worth at least 10 Conflict if not more, for the mercy kill I'd probably assign the base 10 Conflict.

One possible method is to leave the poor sap a means to end their own lives (Star Wars equivalent of poisoned hemlock, seppuku, or a pistol with a single shot), but even that would probably generate some hefty amount of Conflict as the character is encouraging another to commit suicide.  Same with just leaving him to his fate, knowing that they're leaving the poor sap to a fate quite possibly worse than death.

Frankly, it's a thorny situation any way that you slice it if the PCs do anything other than take the guy prisoner and set about trying to redeem him, or at least make him a possible ally instead of an antagonist.

Of course, the PCs might also go about helping this former adversary make a break for it and try to escape his former master's reach.  No guarantee it'd work in the long run, but at the PCs have a cleaner conscience in that they didn't kill the poor sap and that they did do what they could to help him make a fresh start away from the Empire.

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Fun fact:

You're not just making up a Force Users ability to shape flesh with the Force. A niche aspect of Force Alchemy (and very close to the Darkside), practiced before even the Old Republic, was Alchemy of the Flesh.

We see Lanoree use it to save her own life from a gaping chest wound in Into the Void, but it is implied it can be used to do much more sinister things...

I'd probably give 6 Conflict for a mercy kill - it's the easy way out it smacks of "killing is the solution", and same amount for suggesting/leaving him a means to end his own life for same reasons. Knowing they're suffering and want to die ameliorates it from the full 10, the Force doesn't value life for life's sake, it values what drives you. I think the "Light side" thing to do would be to try to ease his suffering in a non-lethal manner, and redeem him.

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I will state this once; the force doesn't have any particular agenda against murder, provided it is done when it is necessary and nothing more. If it is a agent of the darkside an entire deathstar load of people could die and it wouldn't really care; instruments of the dark side are naturally a corruption that the force wants erradicated for it's own well being. It might be debated otherwise, but circumstance makes a huge difference between murder of someone clearly helpless, and a agent of the darkside who only yeilded when on the last threads of his mortal coil. Sure Luke took out Jabbas Barge, but only turned to violence after the Hutt rejected his requests and tried to have him killed. 

With that out of the way I would probably state that leaving the crippled and beaten inquisitor to a fate worse then death is probably the biggest conflict dealer; simply because they chose not to help him and let evil destroy his spirit once more. I would probably assign less to finishing him off, about 4-6 simply because the surrender only came after he had exhausted every other option. Redemption may also be a possiblity, but one that doesn't come easy and indeed is likely to be rejected; being in the darkside is similar to being a complete addict craving a constant buzz to the extent that they might not recognise redemption as an option. Indeed, if the players fail to redeem him then he might do a grand inquisitor and throw himself off a cliff/into a reactor then face a fate worse then death

Edited by LordBritish

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4 hours ago, LordBritish said:

I will state this once; the force doesn't have any particular agenda against murder, provided it is done when it is necessary and nothing more. If it is a agent of the darkside an entire deathstar load of people could die and it wouldn't really care; instruments of the dark side are naturally a corruption that the force wants erradicated for it's own well being. It might be debated otherwise, but circumstance makes a huge difference between murder of someone clearly helpless, and a agent of the darkside who only yeilded when on the last threads of his mortal coil. Sure Luke took out Jabbas Barge, but only turned to violence after the Hutt rejected his requests and tried to have him killed. 

With that out of the way I would probably state that leaving the crippled and beaten inquisitor to a fate worse then death is probably the biggest conflict dealer; simply because they chose not to help him and let evil destroy his spirit once more. I would probably assign less to finishing him off, about 4-6 simply because the surrender only came after he had exhausted every other option. Redemption may also be a possiblity, but one that doesn't come easy and indeed is likely to be rejected; being in the darkside is similar to being a complete addict craving a constant buzz to the extent that they might not recognise redemption as an option. Indeed, if the players fail to redeem him then he might do a grand inquisitor and throw himself off a cliff/into a reactor then face a fate worse then death

It's funny that you mention the "leaving a crippled enemy to his fate" as being a really bad option, which I agree with by the way.   Considering that's exactly what Obi-Wan does to Anakin in Revenge.  He leaves him, writhing in anger, literally being burned in front of him...and he just walks off.  No final blow to end it swiftly, in respect for his friend.  Nope, he just leaves him to slowly be consumed by lava, in what is shown as an incredibly agonizing way.   Pretty sure Obi-Wan got a massive amount of Conflict on that one. :D 

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1 hour ago, KungFuFerret said:

It's funny that you mention the "leaving a crippled enemy to his fate" as being a really bad option, which I agree with by the way.   Considering that's exactly what Obi-Wan does to Anakin in Revenge.  He leaves him, writhing in anger, literally being burned in front of him...and he just walks off.  No final blow to end it swiftly, in respect for his friend.  Nope, he just leaves him to slowly be consumed by lava, in what is shown as an incredibly agonizing way.   Pretty sure Obi-Wan got a massive amount of Conflict on that one. :D 

Oh aye, I get a royal laugh out of that one every time. XD Though in his case, I definitely would agree. Just I guess the player wanted the character to burn, or this was some weird prequel campaign where both people agreed not to kill one another. XD

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22 minutes ago, LordBritish said:

Oh aye, I get a royal laugh out of that one every time. XD Though in his case, I definitely would agree. Just I guess the player wanted the character to burn, or this was some weird prequel campaign where both people agreed not to kill one another. XD

Yeah, I mean, I try to be forgiving of the prequel, as they had to end in a specific place (Anakin burned on Mustafar).  The how was up to debate though.   When I first heard the story years ago about how Anakin ended up in the suit, I always figured it was a Disney-esque Villain Death, with him falling off a high ledge into an "obviously" certain death situation, and thus Obi-Wan left.   The way they do it in the movie though, is way more callous on Obi's part.   Which is fine, he was hardly a perfect, virtuous guy, but it did feel unusually cruel, to someone that he says was like a brother to him, and that he loved deeply.

If I had to get into a life/death fight with my brother (which sadly isn't outside the realm of possibility), I wouldn't leave him like that.  Just, slowly burning up, in obvious agony.  I'd either put him down cleanly at that point, or call for help to get him medical treatment.   Just, walking away, to the sounds of his agonized torment....in the words of Rick James via Dave Chapelle.   

 

 

Edited by KungFuFerret

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2 hours ago, KungFuFerret said:

It's funny that you mention the "leaving a crippled enemy to his fate" as being a really bad option, which I agree with by the way.   Considering that's exactly what Obi-Wan does to Anakin in Revenge.  He leaves him, writhing in anger, literally being burned in front of him...and he just walks off.  No final blow to end it swiftly, in respect for his friend.  Nope, he just leaves him to slowly be consumed by lava, in what is shown as an incredibly agonizing way.   Pretty sure Obi-Wan got a massive amount of Conflict on that one. :D 

I always thought of that scene as a way for Obi-wan to technically not kill Anakin, which he told Yoda he couldn't do. So he let the lava kill him. Think about it's true... from a certain point of view. ;)

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Killing him would be a straight up 10 IMO, the question is the additional conflict that you tag to it (covered later on in the chapter which specifies motive, so if the motive is good and action is bad its base conflict, in this case 10, if motive is bad iirc the GM can sdd a further 1-6 conflict for any action a PC does, depending on the motive). Example lets say theft is 2, (dont have table atm so sorry if this is wrong), if they steal because they need to to survive its 2, if you steal because you wanted but didnt need the item 6 (greed) and if you steal because you could and it was out of malice then you get 8. if you stole from someone evil , like thr empire though, to help another then you may get none.

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30 minutes ago, Imperial Stormtrooper said:

I always thought of that scene as a way for Obi-wan to technically not kill Anakin, which he told Yoda he couldn't do. So he let the lava kill him. Think about it's true... from a certain point of view. ;)

I don't consider that a "good" choice though.  This is my issue with it.   He says he couldn't kill him.  This would suggest that the reason he couldn't kill him, is because of his love for his dear old friend, someone he's known since he was a child.   Ok, fine, I can understand that.   But by the same token, if he loves him so much, how can he stand there and just watch him slowly be burned alive?  One of the most agonizing ways to die.    I don't consider that the more merciful option.  

Again, I get that the writers' hands were tied in what the outcome would be, but what I'm saying, is that it's a lot easier to have Anakin just fall off something, you know, like maybe a ledge over a lava pit.   Disney has been doing it for decades to kill off their badguys, and it would've been much better here.   The way it was shot in the film, Obi comes off as something of a cold, callous guy.    If the shot had just ended with the limbless Anakin laying here, I wouldn't mind as much.  But the lava is slowly creeping up his body, burning him alive, while Obi-Wan watches.  Generally, in film, the person who does that, is the antagonist of the film.   The hero, will usually finish him off, with a mercy blow.  You know the whole "A fate I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy." kind of thing.   And Anakin wasn't his worst enemy.  He was like a brother to him.  He loved him, and he just...stands there, and watches him cook in agony.   

It's just a case of cinematic dissonance I think.  I know what they were trying for, I just don't think they executed it well in the final product.   But, given the flaws of the prequels, this is hardly the only thing to criticize.

 

24 minutes ago, Stan Fresh said:

Are you morally obligated to murder a helpless and suffering child murderer? Man, the intersection of these movies and RPG mechanics brings up weird questions.

Well, considering that our real world legal system, has very strict rules about not allowing someone being executed to suffer undo pain, yes I would say that most of society would say you are morally obligated to at least put him out of his misery.    I'm not saying he didn't deserve to die for what he did, I'm just saying that what Obi did, as depicted on film, is some cruel stuff, that is usually reserved for the villains of a film to do.  

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Apparently killing is always the wrong thing to do, especially if they have given a name. I feel sometimes I would really dislike gaming on some of these hyperthetical tables as a game of gotcha.


I always thought that that scene with Obi-Wan and Annie entirely unnecessary. Couldn't it have been a more dramatic scene where he cuts off Annie's leg and watches his student and greatest nemesis fall to his apparent death down a lava waterfall? Or did he really just hate annie so much that he should just gradually burn to death? I think in that latter case Obi-Wan had gave up his post as a Jedi and took the comflict knowning that his student would go on to be his biggest regret. It also really exposes the humanity of him; something that is a touch absent in the rest of the counsel. He didn't even have to shout at him, he could have just shouted at the lava and blew off all his frustrations, obvious at the time that his student had survived and only finding out later that he hadn't decisively slain him. The force had a much greater destiny in mind for Vader.

Edited by LordBritish

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I didn't take it as cruelty on Obi-Wan's part. He was obviously in distress watching Anakin suffer,  but he also couldn't bring himself to kill him outright. outright. Walking away wasn't the grand heroic action,  but it was a very human one.

I mean assisted suicide of suffering family members can be almost unbearably hard for everybody involved. I don't expect Obi-Wan,  who has lost so much in such a short time at that point,  to go and also kill his beloved student.

Plus,  Anakin obviously didn't WANT to die. It wouldn't be a mercy killing,  it would be outright murder.

 

 

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49 minutes ago, LordBritish said:

Apparently killing is always the wrong thing to do, especially if they have given a name. I feel sometimes I would really dislike gaming on some of these hyperthetical tables as a game of gotcha.

I feel that this forum has developed some very strange views on what Conflict is and how it should be used that are not at all what's in the books.

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40 minutes ago, Stan Fresh said:

I didn't take it as cruelty on Obi-Wan's part. He was obviously in distress watching Anakin suffer,  but he also couldn't bring himself to kill him outright. outright. Walking away wasn't the grand heroic action,  but it was a very human one.

 

Oh indeed, not arguing it's a human reaction, just not a very "noble" reaction.   

 

 

41 minutes ago, Stan Fresh said:

I mean assisted suicide of suffering family members can be almost unbearably hard for everybody involved. I don't expect Obi-Wan,  who has lost so much in such a short time at that point,  to go and also kill his beloved student.

I would agree, except for the whole "I must stop you Anakin." Angle of why he was fighting him in the first place.  To leave him alive, you run the (apparently very high risk) of him coming back and being a terror to the galaxy at large.   I mean by that point in the Clone Wars, he'd already had one arch enemy, he was certain had died, come back, meaner and eviler than before.   You'd think he'd learn from Maul and be like "Huh, yeah I should probably make sure he's down for good, don't want to risk some robotic death lord terrorizing the galaxy for generations". :D 

43 minutes ago, Stan Fresh said:

Plus,  Anakin obviously didn't WANT to die. It wouldn't be a mercy killing,  it would be outright murder.

I don't know, I still think it would be a mercy to him at that point, rather than leaving him to die slowly (as far as Obi-Wan knew).  Not to mention the decades of agony he suffered later as the robotic Dark Lord of the Sith.    

It reminds me of a scene from the Last of the Mohicans.  One of the British soldiers was being burned alive by a tribe of hostile Native Americans.  The good guys, as they are escaping, stop to put a bullet in his head, to save him the agony of dying slowly.  The British officer didn't want to die, but he didn't have any other options.   And so they put him down, and it was definitely played out as the merciful thing to do.   

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1 hour ago, Stan Fresh said:

I feel that this forum has developed some very strange views on what Conflict is and how it should be used that are not at all what's in the books.

Do you think the Morality mechanics and guidance provided in the books accurately mirrors the Star Wars media which tables might seek to replicate?

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What Obi-Wan knows he must do isn't the same as what I would expect him to be able to do.

11 minutes ago, emsquared said:

Do you think the Morality mechanics and guidance provided in the books accurately mirrors the Star Wars media which tables might seek to replicate?

Some of it yes,  some of it no, but much better than the viewpoints I've been criticizing, at any rate.

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7 minutes ago, Stan Fresh said:

Some of it yes,  some of it no, but much better than the viewpoints I've been criticizing, at any rate.

So you think some of it does not mirror the media.

But you think doing nothing to/with it is better than trying to make it match one's conception of it?

Heh, ok, well that's probably where you and every other person you disagree with on this forum differ.

Everyone that's not you isn't afraid to try to improve upon it.

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1 hour ago, emsquared said:

But you think doing nothing to/with it is better than trying to make it match one's conception of it?

Why would I?  Why would you feign that you assume I do?

1 hour ago, emsquared said:

Everyone that's not you isn't afraid to try to improve upon it

Can you talk about a game of space princesses and cowboys without attacking someone else over their differing viewpoint on it? And without making up things about them?

The answer seems to be no, but I'm a hopeful person.

 

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7 minutes ago, Stan Fresh said:

Can you talk about a game of space princesses and cowboys without attacking someone else over their differing viewpoint on it?

Says the guy who is constantly busy attacking other ppls differing viewpoints.

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