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    Ethics and Rulership

    As far as the elves are concerned, the humans ARE truly beings without worth or right to live, so by your own syllogism the slaughter is not evil.
    You might have missed that I'm referring to an absolute morality. I'm not some silly relativist in real life nor in my fantasy games, for fantasy is traditionally a genre acknowledging the absolute existence of Truth, Good, and Evil, and I'll not betray that which is the very heritage and provence of fantasy as the Myth, Legend, and moral story of our day. Fantasy is so successful as a genre because it appeals to and does not shy away from our instinctive roots in and knowledge of Truth, Good, and Evil.


    As for how extensive human hatred is in the canon, it seems pretty clear to me from the core sources that while there is a streak of Rhuobhe sympathizers in every elven culture, most elves have shunned him. Instead, Tuarhievel allows human guilders and makes friends with humans--not just the current Prince Fhileraene, but his father as well, and both reigns had more than a majority of support it would seem. Further, the Sielwode is not as anti-human as here suggested. Isaelie may have fits of rage, but it is said that she holds no ill will towards humans, and her lieutenant is a bit friendlier than that. Then we've got elves serving in Tuornen and living among humans in the Erebannien. No, I think elves are in the process of getting over humans, just as people and cultures who lose wars and loved ones gradually deal with their grief and anger and move on--or turn it to destruction (like the relatively fewer elves who join with Rhuobhe).

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    You might have missed that I'm referring to an absolute morality. I'm not some silly relativist in real life nor in my fantasy games, for fantasy is traditionally a genre acknowledging the absolute existence of Truth, Good, and Evil, and I'll not betray that which is the very heritage and provence of fantasy as the Myth, Legend, and moral story of our day. Fantasy is so successful as a genre because it appeals to and does not shy away from our instinctive roots in and knowledge of Truth, Good, and Evil.
    Here's a good couple of posts to give you the Cliff's Notes on Ryan and Alignment.

    Quote Originally Posted by ryancaveney View Post
    One of the things I very much like about Birthright`s focus on the world of politics is that it greatly increases moral ambiguity: the game of thrones is not for the faint of heart or lily-livered goody-two-shoes. [ed: For musical theater references, click the link.] In my personal opinion, there is no ruler anywhere in Cerilia who qualifies as particularly "good" in a simple-minded alignment sense, especially the ones who are actually good (in the sense of competent at their job) rulers! In my Cerilia, the principle that a good prince is a person who sacrifices his own personal innocence to protect his people by any means necessary is widely regarded as obviously true.
    Quote Originally Posted by ryancaveney View Post
    Kenneth correctly identifies me as one who reads Machiavelli very appreciatively. Part of the issue with morality is how much of it is really a smokescreen, a set of comforting lies we tell each other and ourselves to hide our darker motives and desires. [...] My primary principle of Cerilian statecraft, which is perhaps best described as "good rulers do good things to good people, and bad things to bad people." A big part of the way I look at it is a "circles of kinship" kind of thing: the rules about interactions within one`s community differ from the rules about interactions with outsiders.
    There is more, its a good thread, so I encourage you to read the whole thing, and John Machin is all over it too, which is always a pleasure.

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    Interesting. What was that thread you were quoting? I may get into it if I have the time; it sounds like it would be a long one to read through.

    I think there are real standards by which rulers can be considered good and just (these standards certainly exist and are debated in our own world). Haelyn seems to represent the simple fact that Anuireans hold up ideals of rulership that involve standards of goodness, virtue (not in the Machiavellian sense, but more in the Christian sense), and justice.

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    I think that would make the god of rulership a god of bad rulership. I don't think Haelyn is the champion of Henry III, I think he's the champion of Edward I.

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    Just and virtuous rulership is bad rulership? Howso?

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    > Rowan wrote:
    > ------------ QUOTE ----------
    > As far as the elves are concerned, the humans ARE truly beings without worth or right to live, so by your own syllogism the slaughter is not evil.
    > -----------------------------
    >
    > You might have missed that I`m referring to an absolute morality. I`m not some silly relativist in real life nor in my fantasy games, for fantasy is traditionally a genre acknowledging the absolute existence of Truth, Good, and Evil,

    Mmm? No. D&D tries to explain it that way but other systems don?t. And why do you think there is an idiom "the way to hell is paved with good intentions"? Read Machiavelli.

    > and I`ll not betray that which is the very heritage and provence of fantasy as the Myth, Legend, and moral story of our day. Fantasy is so successful as a genre because it appeals to and does not shy away from our instinctive roots in and knowledge of Truth, Good, and Evil.
    >

    Defending oneself against attack? would seem not evil. Killing those who want you dead and what is yours turned to a desert? would not seem evil. Fighting unfair against those that outnumber you hundredfold and swarm you and your family like a plague of rats and turn the land into a barren place where you and your family will die?Remember: There have not been a single human on Cerilia before the tribes fled Aduria. The human tribes first played nice and fought the goblins together with the sidhelien (who welcomed their doom with them!) and then the humans clear-cut the forests and spread like the black plague acroos the whole continent pushing the former owners back into what looks like indian reservates on the map. And different than in real history those living in the reservates are not the grandchildren of those who suffered, but the same sidhelien that survived the human genocide against all that is sidhlien south of Tuarhievel (a safe haven established by Queen Tuar) those same sidhelien are still alive and well aware what lying, stealing and murderous beasts those monsters that call themselves human are. Probably some of them have made an idiom for being tricked and mutilated by someone like "He did elcome him like the humans!" (= He was backstabbbed after some friendly words).

    > As for how extensive human hatred is in the canon, it seems pretty clear to me from the core sources that while there is a streak of Rhuobhe sympathizers in every elven culture, most elves have shunned him.

    Is it? Or do they have to bow to Diplomacy and can?t have open relations with Rhuobhe unless they want to invite their bloodthirsty neighbours to invade them?

    > Instead, Tuarhievel allows human guilders and makes friends with humans--not just the current Prince Fhileraene, but his father as well, and both reigns had more than a majority of support it would seem. Was Rhuobhe Fhilereane's grandfather or was he a more distant relative?

    > Further, the Sielwode is not as anti-human as here suggested. Isaelie may have fits of rage, but it is said that she holds no ill will towards humans, and her lieutenant is a bit friendlier than that. Then we`ve got elves serving in Tuornen and living among humans in the Erebannien.

    Do they have a choice? I don?t want to live in the Erebannien with humans - then die or leave.

    > No, I think elves are in the process of getting over humans, just as people and cultures who lose wars and loved ones gradually deal with their grief and anger and move on--or turn it to destruction (like the relatively fewer elves who join with Rhuobhe).
    >

    People and cultures gradually deal with that stuff over the course of generations. Sidhelien culture is still in the same generation living.
    Last edited by Thelandrin; 02-07-2008 at 10:31 PM.

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    > Rowan wrote:
    > Just and virtuous rulership is bad rulership? Howso?
    >

    Because if you restrict your own actions, wanting to be personally just and virtuous, your country may suffer from it.

    "I am Michael the noble Knight - I never break my word!" - virtuous isn?t it? But if breaking your word to your ally and making a seperate peace with the invading army twice the size of yours is the only choice then staying personally virtuous will spell disaster for your realm and the population.

    A sneaky ruler who changes allegiances (treason is a question of time) as he sees fit might be seen as personally the opposite of a noble ruler - but if his realm prospers and his people live safe and happy then he is a good ruler.
    Last edited by Thelandrin; 02-07-2008 at 10:31 PM.

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Just and virtuous rulership is bad rulership? Howso?
    The ruler who is more concerned about his own conscience will produce for his realm civil disorders, invasions, and every kind of mischief. This is the hallmark of a bad ruler. The ruler who leaves his people contented, in peace, in public order under good laws has done so by doing what was neccessary to achieve these ends, even when it means doing bad things to mad men before they have a chance to unleash their ills into the domain.

    The best rulers obey the laws and promote justice as much as they are able, but when obediance to the law will produce civil disorders, they best rulers do not obey the law, but protect their people from disorders, violence, and bloodshed.

    Since there are bad forces in the world attempting to cause such mischief, the ruler cannot play by the rules as if everyone else was going to play by them as well. To attempt to do so is to by conscious choice inflict harm on a great many citizens. Saint Augustine encapsulated this problem when he instrcuted civil rulers to consider which was the greater evil the act or the inaction. Then enjoined them to do the thing which produced the least harm in the long run.

    So the good ruler who spots the discontented official, noble, or courtier who will soon become a Great Captain, arrests him and prevents the conflict that would eventually follow such an event. Its better to visit injustice on the few and prevent civil disorders, than it is to comitt no injustices and see terrible events follow as a consequence of inaction.

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    Junior Member Sejanus's Avatar
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    This debate is higly interesting, so I'll timidly chip my five cents worth in the cup. Sorry if I'm departing from the original intent of the chain... History is my aphrodisiac!

    Haelyn is the god of Justice, law and order. Duty, valor, honour, compassion, mercy - you name the good chivalric virtue; it's there!

    When Kgauck says "Haelyn is more a god for Edward I than Henry III", I would think he's omitting the Eloelan ruler before Henry III... John Lackland.

    You might say the worship of Haelyn is in the eye of the Beholder. Henry III followed what a lot would claim to be a most selfish and dictatorial king. John I Lackland, Prince John - brother to Richard the Lion Hearted.

    Thus Henry III had a comparison of a warlike Cuiraecenite Lionheart - who had little regard for anything else than war - and John - your Eloelan usurping thief and gold-loving merchant (consider how all Englands crown jewelry and a lot of gold was lost in some river as John tried to run away with it).

    Henry III in comparison, to make him something special in comparison to his ímmediate forebears, lifted the banner of moral purity! Being so perfect a christian of his time that he was zealous in singling out the jews. Add to this a reign of peace lasting from his 9-year coronation in 1216 to the scottish invasion in 1244 and I ask you: Is this not a king worthy of Haelyn? Who else would be the standard bearer of peace than the lord of law and order?
    The OIT Haelynite would have considered both heresy hounding and peace mongering perfectly acceptable. The NIT & WIT as well and the IHH most certainly the second and the first if it had been against Belinik or Kriesha (I'm not intending to compare the jews with your generic evil DnD god!)

    And when scottish invasion and later rebellion by Simon de Montfort saw Henry III imprisoned, his son Edward I Longshanks took on one of only two possible courses. Fight or surrender. He fought - again Haelyn, being the protector of the lawful ruler, would have supported this and every damned last one of his dogmatic churches the same. So both rulers, in each their ways were good examples of Haelynic rulers. One in peace, the other in almost seemingly perpetual war - but then he had a most annoying magna charta to fight. Imagine being the first king with a bunch of nobles who actually have a piece of paper your grandfather signed, limiting your influence...

    No, the interesting question is - was Richard the Lionhearted a Haelynic ruler? Was John I Lackland? I would suggest the first was a gay Cuiraecenite, the other a follower of Eloele or Laerme perhaps.

    Thus I add my own view on ruler morality to your debate - I hope. My claim is that human beings, based upon their lifespan, will attempt to assume some form of moral (or perhaps amoral) higher ground. Based on that, but not being the same, as that of their father or idol. Richard was the outwardly chivalrous, ever adventure-seeking warrior-king with a mass-murdering streak, John his brother was a back-stabbing, security-seeking little megalomaniac without charisma but with a mass-murdering streak. His son Henry III was a pious, classical Jew-hating "serve everyone as best you can" (quite likely due to the Magna Carta his father had to sign) selfish bugger who had "ruled" since the age of nine and thus had a rather timid world view. And finally his son Edward I Longshanks who kicked everybody's ass (Even William Wallace's!) and thought Prima Nochte should be brought back into use, quite likely because his father had been rather bullied and finally imprisoned by the nobility. He had a score to settle and it wasn't going to happen through no pious approach! Have sex with their wives on the wedding night I say!


    Take the Elves in comparison, living 10 times or more than us, will be the slower in changing their views. The question is: Are elven children essentially identical to us? Or are they able to pick up where daddy left off and continue his work EXACTLY as daddy had worked it to this point? Indications are that the story of elves, being written by human beings, is exactly the same as human history - with the marked difference that they change ten times slower than us. Thus the predecessor of Rhuobhe Manslayer will necessarily have a coherent with but different plan than Rhuobhe's.

    Consider Tolkien's elves out of Silmarillion. Are they not images of a greater humanity? Driven by anger, hate, love, friendship and greed.

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    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    The ruler who is more concerned about his own conscience will produce for his realm civil disorders, invasions, and every kind of mischief. This is the hallmark of a bad ruler. The ruler who leaves his people contented, in peace, in public order under good laws has done so by doing what was neccessary to achieve these ends, even when it means doing bad things to mad men before they have a chance to unleash their ills into the domain.

    The best rulers obey the laws and promote justice as much as they are able, but when obediance to the law will produce civil disorders, they best rulers do not obey the law, but protect their people from disorders, violence, and bloodshed.

    Since there are bad forces in the world attempting to cause such mischief, the ruler cannot play by the rules as if everyone else was going to play by them as well. To attempt to do so is to by conscious choice inflict harm on a great many citizens. Saint Augustine encapsulated this problem when he instrcuted civil rulers to consider which was the greater evil the act or the inaction. Then enjoined them to do the thing which produced the least harm in the long run.

    So the good ruler who spots the discontented official, noble, or courtier who will soon become a Great Captain, arrests him and prevents the conflict that would eventually follow such an event. Its better to visit injustice on the few and prevent civil disorders, than it is to comitt no injustices and see terrible events follow as a consequence of inaction.

    And that is why the crown weighs heavy on the ruler.

    Or to put it another way - a ruler is often placed in positions where his personal beliefs conflict with what he must do for the good of the realm.

    That is pretty much the main reason there are so few paladin regents.
    Duane Eggert

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