ToEE: Good, Evil, and Neutral

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but I did manage to get in a little bit of Temple time. My chief accomplishment was slaughtering a gaggle of gnolls living under that moat house. This was actually optional; if you manage to talk to the gnoll leader without making him attack you — say, by means of a Charm Person spell — you learn that they’re planning on clearing out pretty soon anyway, in fear of the greater evils being awakened in the vicinity. And that’s a useful bit of plot for him to provide, but once I had it, I killed him anyway. In Wizardry III, this behavior, attacking non-hostile monsters, would be considered evil, and start to turn my party evil. For all the care that ToEE puts onto humanizing its characters, its lack of concern here seems like a substantial step backward from the intentions of a game published fully 20 years earlier. In-fiction, I can justify myself on the simple basis that gnolls are Evil, and that if they leave the moat house alive, they’ll just wind up killing and terrorizing innocents somewhere else. But I know full well that my motivation as a player had nothing to do with that, and that I simply kill whatever I can because I need the XP. In the cold light of day, this seems even worse. Valuing others solely for their utility, and their lives for what you can gain from snuffing them out — surely that’s the essence of evil?

Afterwards, I explored Hommlet some more. Small though it is by real-world standards, it’s a pretty big place for a city in a CRPG, and I’m still discovering new people I haven’t talked to yet. In particular, this time around I found Jaroo, someone I had heard several villagers mention before. This surprised me, because I had gotten the impression that Jaroo was a god. I mean, every mention of him is like “We’re attempting to convert Jaroo’s followers” or “The Cuthbertites can keep their new faith, I put my trust in Jaroo” or “Jaroo has the power to heal any sickness”. Well, it turns out he’s a druid. He’s the local leader of the old faith, which is something that I sort of assumed was a folk religion and didn’t need a leader. But no, here he is, the opposite number to the priest in the Cuthbert church. Because obviously alignments are basically just teams, and what’s a team without a captain?

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