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Thread: (Game Thread) Ruceeglaelsktinag: A Study in Applied Christian Theology of War

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    tWebber Rational Gaze's Avatar
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    "On the contrary, faith is tested every day, mine no less than anyone else's - perhaps even more so. If everything I say sounds like it was stated as fact, then that is probably because it is. I speak no willing falsehood. However, I claim no authority for myself. The only authority is He who lives in heaven. But for your question, I do not know what ought to be done to such criminals as it is a matter I have not yet had time to study in full. I am here to learn."

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    tWebber
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    Ah! Confidence and humility! Both human traits indeedindeed. Perhaps there is a bleeding heart under all that armor. Hmm... I, am not here to learn, however much of life is about learning, therefore we are all here to learn...at least passively. I caution you: be careful when considering what is hard fact. There are truths that cannot be proven, as well as proven facts that are terribly misleading. Behold, a mystery. This earthen orb is the pip of question mark.

    Umbris breaks his stare but smiles slightly and gives a quick sideways glance back.

    Which is better, to kill a murderer and make an example so fewer follow that path ...or forgive him that the one might repent?

    Umbris now looks serious but not unfriendly.

    I make no claim of knowledge or argument. I want to hear your honest and equal opinion.

    Umbris folds his paws on the table listening for yours and the thoughts of others.

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    tWebber
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    After Thanatos replies(if he doesn't I'll just go ahead), I'll step forward and say to Umbris, a repented killer could sway more people that had planned to follow the path of treachery a different way, if he so chooses to preach virtue and righteousness after he has corrected his mistake. Also, we must know was the murder one done after planning and knowing, or was it an accident and without thought, either way a repented murderer would be better than having to execute a man, after all people controlled by fear are oft unhappy and sometime unpredictable, I think attempting to help a man repent or to forgive him would always be the just thing to do, if at all possible.
    Last edited by ForrestGump; 09-20-2015 at 07:45 PM. Reason: text colour won't turn red

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    Benir the Fair chimes in: "People controlled by a fear great in both magnitude and duration are, I think, as you have said. But a distant fear to stave of distant thoughts, or a sharp fear to counter a sharp anger can be, I think, more effective. Also, a strong period of focused mediation on the ways of avoiding a repeated incident are of value... although that does not differentiate between the prison cell and the Heart-Guardian's tavern-table.

    ... but it seems I should perhaps explain the Heart-Guardians*. They are be-like to a paladin, but without the daily strength at arms, steed, nor breadth of spells. In Ruceeglaelsktinag they simply go among people, getting to know them, at least by face. Then they take notice when Good is lost, or Evil gained, for their eyes are opened to such things even beyond that of a paladins. They then take such a person aside, and offer their aid to better them, to be freely accepted or rejected. Although they may be persistent in calling out the path of righteousness.

    Similarly, but to a lesser extent, they advise those whose hearts are fair but unruly in the ways of adapting to have peace with their brothers, or, as a last resort, a Heart-Guardian may grant a letter of passage to The Great Portal that lies in The Welcoming Lair* where they may freely find passage to Freeman's Land.

    But greater still is their joy when they can see Evil fade, or Good grow from indifference!


    ...Pardon my loquacity, I fear I got a bit off-topic."

    *(This is an actual character class, although one too weak for PCs.)
    **(A name, or at least nickname for the capital of Ruceeglaelsktinag.)

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    tWebber Rational Gaze's Avatar
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    My character first replies to Benir (and, by extension, Razzik):
    "Fear not, Elf, for I am no stranger to sesquipedalian loquaciousness. I would question, however, the placating of barbarism via fear. For it seems that this method is a two-edged sword. On one hand, fear may prevent barbarians and the like from rabble-rousing, but, on the other hand, it may further cement their hatred of righteousness. For fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. The general way to avoid evil and barbarism is to make the path of good easier and more convenient, and the path of evil harder and more inconvenient to follow. The only debate, it seems, is in interpreting this general rule and putting it into practice. In my experience, trade and mutual exchange is the best way for two cultures to interact with each other peacefully, with violence being only an option in answer to aggression. This can be similarly applied on the personal level."

    My character now replies to Umbris:
    "Thus, what would I see done to a murderer? Well, that depends very much on the circumstances. One who murders out of the evil of his own heart, and who enjoys and revels in it is clearly and unequivocally deserving of the most severe punishments known to man. Whereas someone who commits murder out of desperation, and/or who comes to recognise the immorality of their actions would warrant a lesser penalty."

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    tWebber
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    Benir replies to Umbris:
    "Ah, perhaps you would like to summarize your preferred version of The Tragedy of the Ladle Mistress? Or perhaps, through no fault of your own, you have never heard that story?

    Because I can assure you that Ruceeglaelsktinag is well aware of the moral and pragmatic benefits of wielding the carrot in the strong hand, and the stick in the weak hand."

    ((One version of the story he is referencing can be found HERE.))

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    ((Oh, good grief... I REALLY hate not being to edit long-term... the above comment was directed to Rational Gaze's character, not Umbris. On that note, it is VERY helpful if one can work in the name of your character into each and every post one makes.))

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    Umbris takes on a playful look of surprise,

    Why Benir, I don't think I could. I know the story but I prefer listening. Besides, my version of the tale would be far more complicated and thought provoking--not to say it isn't provocative enough on its own. -no, I'd much rather hear the thoughts of my fellow thinkers!

    Now, looking towards the other outspoken two charmingly...

    As the many characters of the story have their biases, so do the interpreters of the tale. I only wonder if anyone hear thinks that intimidating the very same you wish to help by means of torturing and killing their kinsmen might nullify the original act of kindness... Hunger is terrible but who can say they'd rather have a bowl of bland mush at the expense of losing their fellow man? And perhaps another consideration is was the help even requested in the first place...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rational Gaze View Post
    My character first replies to Benir (and, by extension, Razzik):
    "Fear not, Elf, for I am no stranger to sesquipedalian loquaciousness. I would question, however, the placating of barbarism via fear. For it seems that this method is a two-edged sword. On one hand, fear may prevent barbarians and the like from rabble-rousing, but, on the other hand, it may further cement their hatred of righteousness. For fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. The general way to avoid evil and barbarism is to make the path of good easier and more convenient, and the path of evil harder and more inconvenient to follow. The only debate, it seems, is in interpreting this general rule and putting it into practice. In my experience, trade and mutual exchange is the best way for two cultures to interact with each other peacefully, with violence being only an option in answer to aggression. This can be similarly applied on the personal level."
    Benir replies:
    "Ah, so you might agree that 'crime doesn't pay' is a useful guideline for setting sentences? If so, then let us take as example the issue of offering false surrender. It seems to me that the temptation there is to save the lives of one's-self, or even one's nearest comrades as well, via accessing a tactic that more lawful conduct would disallow. Would you then agree that it seems quite plausible that the punishment must be something more than a quick and simple death?

    The concept of 'vengeance' has been brought up, and while eliminating it entirely in the hearts of every individual involved in the enactment of Ruceeglaelsktinagian justice is a distant pipe-dream, our laws do not have it as an objective. Instead we have 'justice'. Our King follows the King of Kings, the Christ, who commands us to both love 'justice' and 'mercy' and eschew 'vengeance' as he reserves that last for his own to dispense. But what is 'justice' when the 'vengeance' has been stripped away? Surely it is slow and sure, rather than acting in rash haste, but beyond that, what goals are good to pursue when justice and mercy must each have there say? Thus the idea that the central good that justice accomplishes is deterrence. Which brings us back to the idea of balancing punishments to suit various crimes and criminals.

    But first I should take a side-trip and mention that the idea of 'protection' via means other than 'deterrence' might easily be mistaken for justice, but is actually not. To understand this, consider a nearly incorrigible individual who takes great joy in beating anyone he can to the point of permanent injury or death. If one flogs him and then releases him, this might accomplish 'deterrence', but only a little of 'protection', since, as I have stated, he is greatly incorrigible. But how-then if one should enact a great magic which would suspend him in a dream where he would have his every hearts desire, and should neither age, nor hunger, nor thirst. Surely this second fate would have no justice to it although great mercy, for surely such a thing would qualify as a reward to many. Yet it would accomplish protection for all his potential future victims, since he would be asleep until the spell was broken, if only by the ending of the world. In this sleep he would do no harm to any, save his own soul.

    And yes, it is true that rewarding good can and should work in concern with punishing evil, yet Good is a quiet thing, and thus I argue is best rewarded by spreading happiness and prosperity to all in accordance with their efforts at the common and everyday tasks. Naturally, there are also rewards for especial virtue, such as scholarships, bounties for apprehending evil-doers, public recognitions for charitable donations, and so on and so forth. And yet... what rewards would you have in mind that could help the situation between Ruceeglaelsktinag and the Vedag? Ruceeglaelsktinag has sought, does seek, and will continue to seek, trade and somewhat of cultural exchange, yet still warfare recurs. Surely a bounty for one who turns in his fellow countryman who would raise rebellion against our occupation would be a reward, although some might debate if it is a reward for Goodness. Yet such a reward goes in hand with punishment. In another regard, one might imagine showering cities that did not rebel with gold simply for that fact, but what is that but tribute in disguise, which only encourages demands for greater tribute, and laziness to improve ones own situation by ones own efforts, thus decreasing the total amount of labor performed, and thereby impoverishing the world as a whole as the effects of rust and moth eat away faster than is being built?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Rational Gaze View Post
    My character now replies to Umbris:
    "Thus, what would I see done to a murderer? Well, that depends very much on the circumstances. One who murders out of the evil of his own heart, and who enjoys and revels in it is clearly and unequivocally deserving of the most severe punishments known to man. Whereas someone who commits murder out of desperation, and/or who comes to recognise the immorality of their actions would warrant a lesser penalty."
    "Well, to slay such a one on a slab dedicated to the Warder Cuthbert and request endless torment for him or her might even be overdoing it... we try to reserve that level for those with an especially prolonged history of such action often compounded by false repentances made via strong deceptive magics. But yes, true repentance often does warrant a lesser sentence in our courts."
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Maltuin View Post
    Umbris takes on a playful look of surprise,

    Why Benir, I don't think I could. I know the story but I prefer listening. Besides, my version of the tale would be far more complicated and thought provoking--not to say it isn't provocative enough on its own. -no, I'd much rather hear the thoughts of my fellow thinkers!

    Now, looking towards the other outspoken two charmingly...

    As the many characters of the story have their biases, so do the interpreters of the tale. I only wonder if anyone hear thinks that intimidating the very same you wish to help by means of torturing and killing their kinsmen might nullify the original act of kindness... Hunger is terrible but who can say they'd rather have a bowl of bland mush at the expense of losing their fellow man? And perhaps another consideration is was the help even requested in the first place...
    Benir's brow knits in confusion towards the end.

    "I was trying to seek out what your impressions of Ruceeglaelsktinagian sophontarian* efforts were to better understand how to start. You must have a most peculiar impression to raise that last objection.

    As for your first point, I would say that any individual of a conquered people who did not, in fact, take heart for the sake of their own selfish interests would be showing no more than slightly above average intelligence. For were not the harsh punishments you describe done in aid of reducing the danger to those providing the food? Would that not reducing such dangers tend to increase the number and duration that volunteers remain?

    And yet... I can not truly blame anyone who would avoid such a place out of fear. Foolish it might be, but such folly is common to common persons. Careful explanations to the crowd in their own tongue or tongues can help, and there are mixed opinions as to if the punishments should be carried out in the center of the relief area, outside its perimeter, or at some site separate enough that the screaming is muted, yet within the same township. Personally I favor the midst of those being given aid, although damping out the sound by restricting the breath of the guilty, or even a spell can be of use. However, such a spell would be of greater power than one that would bend the accused to the will to cause them to see the interrogator as a well-liked friend. As such, it might be seen as less than merciful.

    I think that, in the usual version of the story, better signage to announce the procedures for unusual cases, so that the mother-goblin would know how she might procure food for her sick child would be desirable, although the issue of illiteracy unfortunately rears its head... and still more getting those being aided to read such things. Also, such listings of rules that are not entirely comfortable to the readers does tend to attract defacement of various sorts, and to punish those who perform such defacement has its own diminishing returns. In actuality, we DO use such signage, and DO tend to place it beside where a guard would usually stand, and DO make announcements when time is available to those with the ability to speak in a tongue that will be understood.

    One thing that most versions of the tale completely leave out is what actually happened to the goblin who the mother-goblin appealed to for translation and who refused her. With the very high emphasis in most Vedag cultures on self-rule, which in my opinion is to the point of excess, Ruceeglaelsktinag would not normally be involved in such matters except as specifically requested by the locals. Certainly if no prior understanding existed an inquiry might be made as to if the individual who refused to translate should be detained if it was convenient when seen, and then turned over to the locals for punishment, whether that be a beating or hanging by a mob, or a highly formal trial, or anything between the two.

    Of course, none of this even touches on the most critical generalization that almost all versions of the tale gloss over with no more than three stanzas, and those not repeated. This is the idea that the closest kin should be the ones delivering the punishment. To ask a wife to slow-kill her husband is a colossal burden, and not one to be inflicted without equally great need. In fact, Ruceeglaelsktinag does no such thing in the case of most conquered peoples. It is only when the bonds of family and a culture of vengeance-taking are paramount in a given people that such measures must be employed. In this way we encourage family members to look out for eachother by saying, at worst:

    'Drive these filthy Rucees out of our land, but do so within the rules they have set, else-wise if you are caught you will surely bring out entire clan down, for our bonds are strong, and none of us will raise their hand against another. I shall be watching you carefully, and if you betray our clan by considering to act outside those rules, I shall kill you in your sleep to protect our clan, and then commit ritual suicide for daring to strike you down.'

    Of course, it I have never heard a clear answer as to if this aspect turns out to be more or less applicable to the ideas that such procedures separate those willing to be progressive in their thinking from those who are not by winnowing them like chaff, or that death at the hands of family member is a distinctly greater deterrent for its terribleness to the transgressor themselves, regardless of any pity they might have for the one required to perform the execution.

    Even there there are ways of scaling things down. At the lowest level having the family privately loan a knife to the executioner, which is used to cut the rope holding the guillotine-blade suspended. After that is the public presentation of the knife to the executioner at the execution, then above that is cutting the rope themselves, then yet higher in severity are progressively smaller knives and thicker ropes, then still above that standing by with knife in hand during part or the whole of torture of the condemned, and so on and so forth on up to extended family each <redacted by GM in caution/deference to his poor best understanding of the desires expressed by Chaotic Void> while praying to all the deities for the damnation of the condemned with anti-falsehood magics in play and other torments being visited on the remaining portions of the body by a rotation of those whose turns it isn't currently. These remaining portions of the body are healed by the local clerics whenever unconsciousness or death loom to close, and also entrap the soul in a gemstone paid for by the family when the closest relative who has held the knife of withheld mercy to the condemned's throat through this whole procedure finally makes their cut to at the stomach for a slower death.

    I should emphasize that that last one is so rare for Ruceeglaelsktinagian justice that judges and lawyers specializing in the laws of such areas are required to prove their proficiency in knowledge of each and every such case before they can have any dealings as the leader of any of the three concerns. By which I mean the judge, prosecution, or defense. I only brought it up out of caution that if I did not then some of you might see me as white-washing the matter.

    I can provide further details on what various levels exist if any desire them, but I feel I've talked a while.

    Actually, that still leaves the last point you brought up. It usually only in the case of plagues in areas where our healers are not trusted that there is any possibility of Ruceeglaelsktinagian charity being forced on a person... unless one counts keeping the general peace to be an act of charity to those who would otherwise lose territorial squabbles between warbands and/or gangs? Naturally Ruceeglaelsktinag has encampments for their soldiers and such, so what of it if some additional locations are held where charity is offered to those who will take it? And if armed patrols for military and peace-keeping purposes are permitted then why should not doctors, non-combative clerics, engineers, and missionaries go about, either with or without escort, crying out their offers and messages? To claim that we do otherwise is not an unheard of accusation, but in the context of the Tragedy of the Ladle Mistress it would be an odd twist to the tale indeed, as it would rob away the nobility of the mother-goblin and the Ruceeglaelsktinagian charity effort as a whole. Furthermore it would do so in a way that would make the tale much the less interesting to the listener, or so it seems to me. I wonder at what sort of storyteller would choose such a twist. I suspect I may have misunderstood you, and you heard no such version however."

    *((IRL we would call this HUMANitarian.))

  10. #20
    tWebber
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    After listening tothe exchange between Benir, Thanatos, and Umbris for a short while, I'll state," I agree that these laws are applicable in certain situations, but in the version of the tale I've heard, the young goblin should have at most had to cut the rope to the guillotine, and not be put to death due to the probable fact he was following his fathers orders and he likely knew no better than someone he looked to as a leader, his father, had told him. I'd also like to state that if these laws are used regularly they should be used with more discretion than I believe is shown in the tale, having just one cleric in charge doesn't seem plausible, especially if, after so many years one cleric becomes corrupted or weaker willed than they were because of the wear and tear of time and pressure that is on all of us." -Razzik

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