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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: When Evil = DNA

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51 posts found
  krant

Novice Member

Joined: 1/24/13
Posts: 7

8/25/13 12:44:17 PM#41
Originally posted by Vermillion_Raventhal

Why can't a race or species be evil by DNA?  

 

A race of beings that are naturally more aggressive by biology is not impossible.   But humans themselves are quite aggressive on their own without constraints of society.  Even then we're still aggressive.  

 

I am sure a sentient species from a apex predator such as a lion or Komodo dragon would likely be a harsh or evil race/species.   We could assume that even if we raised a sentient lion related humanoid to be kind that aggressive behavior from their prey drive would still come out when stressed or tempted by typical prey.  

Two races immediately come to my mind that fit your basic description, the Kzinti from Larry Niven's Known Space series of stories, and the Poosleen from John Ringo's Aldentnata saga.

Both races evolved from apex predators, both races are extremely violent, both races kill humans in job lots.  And both races are not racially evil, they simply follow the prerogatives of their of their species, and in both cases some members of the species find admirable traits in humanity and eventually find a peaceful solution to their problems.

And in both cases the author took the time and trouble to flesh out his races culture and background, which is all that this article is asking future game and fiction writers to do.

  CazNeerg

Novice Member

Joined: 8/06/04
Posts: 2220

"So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb." Dark Helmet

8/25/13 2:02:28 PM#42
I'll take Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, or Richard Morgan over Tolkien or Goodkind any day.  Give me "real" believable people who happen to exist in fantasy or science fiction settings, not individuals or races constructed to embody some philosophical principle which requires them to act in a blatantly unbelievable fashion.  Good writing recognizes that morality itself is fiction, and to the extent it includes concepts of good and evil at all, it views them from the perspectives of it's characters, not the perspective of the author.

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
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  kkarrabbass

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/17/08
Posts: 160

I was a smart man once...

8/25/13 8:17:09 PM#43

I would like to make a short remark here, even though the subject is quite complicated, more than most of the people posting here might suspect.

The category “Evil” came to existence from children’s fairy tales. It was made as opposite to “Good”, and has a purpose to make a moral statement: “Do not be evil, be good!” This “black and white” paradigm was not intended for more complicated grown-up world. However, not all of us apparently are grown-up enough. Some politicians start to use this word to make enemies look scarier (Empire of Evil – for example). Finally “Evil” formed to characteristic of immoral behavior containing no even little ”Good” in it. So if our enemies are good to each other, they cannot be considered “Evil”. “Evil” creature is evil only, if it is evil to everything and everyone. In opposite case, that creature is just somebodies enemy (ruthless or not). This definition excludes all cultural references. Because no matter how absurd outrages and savage cultural traditions are from our point of view (say cannibalism), those who belong to that culture are good to each-other, and to their children. The fictional figure, who actually can be considered an “Evil” is “Satan”.

  Hardanger

Novice Member

Joined: 6/06/09
Posts: 228

8/25/13 8:53:10 PM#44
Evil isn't a real thing, so this article is kind of baseless.  Certainly an entire species or culture could be innately cruel or immoral from an outsider point of view.

  TheCrow2k

Novice Member

Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 956

8/25/13 11:37:02 PM#45
Interesting column, in many games I always assumed "the bad guys" aren't evil but rather in conflict with "the good guys" for a reason, be it expansionism, fighting over finite resources or to protect what is theirs. Sometimes main protagonists bring conflict to gain tangible power but even that is usually only a precursor to expansionism.

Even simple zombies usually come into conflict with the player not because they are evil but because they need food to survive.

I am actually struggling to think of a game I have played where the bad guys are just evil (which is actually just a point of view) without motivation.
  bbbb42

Novice Member

Joined: 10/16/12
Posts: 295

8/26/13 6:57:33 AM#46
Originally posted by Lustmord

Can't things just be evil?

A fantasy world is typicaly set in a middle age, where people are divided, uneducated, and superstitious. Your enemy is your enemy, and your enemy is evil.

Orcs kill humans to eat them because they are evil. We don't need to look through a progressive lense of the modern day liberal, and justify their actions. We just need to kill them.

 

wut? lol

  Ardnut

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/26/06
Posts: 150

smartphones - invented to make people stupid

8/26/13 3:08:12 PM#47

evil is a concept that can change from one moment to the next it seems. take a huge group of people who are more advanced than some smaller nations, get them to think they can do what they want when they want - like invade other countries because of perceived slights, or made up fears that a smaller country would really raise arms and invade a much bigger one. let them kill thousands of people and bully other races into helping them. let them bully other nations by threatening to invade or cut off their ability to trade with others. such a nation might be seen as evil by other people who just want to be left alone to live their lives by their own codes. even though the nation in question might not see themselves as evil,.

there are nations out there like that at the moment, one in particular springs to mind but i'll let you guess which one that is.

loads of races have been called evil and still are, either for their current or past actions. but not every one of that race is evil just because of the actions of a few.

in games though, the devs feel we need an antaganistic foe who is classed as evil, the bad guy, someone we feel justified killing every one of that race. but do we? are we in need of an excuse to kill everything just because it's not of our chosen race? are we not the evil ones when we rush up and slaughter some critter that was just out minding it's own business and then nicking all of it's belongings. stuff we'd be condemned for doing irl as evil.

tbh, i dont think we care if our foes are evil or not in games, were just evil sods ourselves that get a kind of enjoyment out of trashing the hell out of whatever gets in our way to riches and better gear and abilities in game.

 

as an aside has anyone read the Orc books by Stan Nicholls? worth a read, and shows another side to orcs

i look this wrecked because i've got GIST.
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  Konfess

Elite Member

Joined: 10/10/07
Posts: 737

8/26/13 8:48:20 PM#48

So in your article on the over use of evil, you portray the victim as evil?  "to the many chapters of Star Wars (Tusken Raiders)"  The Sand People are the indigenous people of Tatooine, where they defend themselves from invading hostile settlers.

 

"If the prevailing culture tells us a thing, and tells us often enough, we internalize that thing, often holding on to it as a given until we are forced to examine it consciously."  I came across a thread on this site dotted with hate speech, and reported it to the moderator.  The mod either couldn't or wouldn't recognize the hate speech, so I was warned.

 

I am a descendant.

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  Scot

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5252

8/27/13 9:42:24 AM#49
A descendant of the Sand People? Have I got my wires twisted about what you said or have you had too much sun? :)
  GrumpyMel2

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/24/09
Posts: 1824

8/27/13 1:10:10 PM#50

Frankly, I call bunk. It's neither bad writing nor is it particularly unhealthy for the psyche of fans. It's not even particularly inacurate biology.

When authors write (or GM's run a campaign) they need make a purposefull choice in what style they use to represent thier naratives. One style availble is to use a somewhat "idealized" cosmology and a classical representation of "Evil". There is nothing "wrong" or "lazy" about this any more then choosing a sonnet over a haiku becomes a poor choice. Nor is it particularly wrong or lazy to write in a gritty, "thousand shades of grey" style. It's just different style choices.

Authors like Tolkien and Milton choose to write in an idealized style with a classical representation of "Evil", to call them either "lazy" or bad authors because of that style choice is laughable on it's face. They are better writers then 99 percent of published fantasy or science fiction authors. What's actualy important is to be relatively consistant in how one uses the chosen style within a work.

In terms of psychology, writing (or GMing) in this style is a form of escapism for the reader. That's one of the core essences of what fantasy is for many people. In that sense, not only is it not damaging to a normal psyche but it is actualy quite healthy. Escapism provides a healthy release from the complexities and stresses of modern life. It's only when a person has difficulty in distinguising between fantasy and reality that it can become unhealthy.....and that's rather rare.

In terms of biology, the concept of "Evil = DNA" isn't all that unfounded either. I know it's not in vogue these days to think about....but human beings ARE actualy members of the animal kingdom. We are high order thinking animals to be sure...but like chimps, dolphins, whales and wolves we are still animals and like all other animals we are subject to instincts which have been ingrained in us by millions of years of evolution. Those instincts influence our behavior. To a seal, the Great White Shark might seem the epitomy of "Evil". Science tells they aren't, of course, they are simply driven (by instinct) to do what sharks do. Not very comforting from the seals perspective, but it's how nature works. Likewise all high order animals, including us humans are subject to instincts. We aren't slaves to our instincts, but we certainly aren't completely divorced from them either. In a fantasy universe, where there are multiple sentient species..... it's not actualy unfounded in science to think some of those species might have developed instinctual behaviors that others would define as "Inherently Evil" much like the seal, if he could speak might not have a very compassionate opinion of the shark.

  GrumpyMel2

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/24/09
Posts: 1824

8/27/13 1:40:56 PM#51
Originally posted by CazNeerg

It's fine to have evil the way D&D stories have evil, where the alignment system essentially redefines evil to just mean willing to hurt others to advance your own interests.  It is entirely conceivable to have a society that thinks that way.  But using the "classic" understanding of evil, it is always bad to include in any non-supernatural character in a story, because it simply isn't believable.   Classic evil consists of people doing things they believe are wrong, simply because they are wrong, and the character exists to do wrong.  Like the original presentation of most Marvel Comics villains back in the 60s.  That is bad writing.  Every well written (mortal) character, at his core, thinks his beliefs are the right beliefs, and that following those beliefs is "good," or at least not evil.  In either the real world, or well written fiction, evil is simply a label we attach to people whose concept of good we violently disagree with.

I disagree with you emphaticaly that representation of classical "Evil" constitutes "bad" writing, it's simply represents a different style of writing and a different choice of cosmology. The "classical" author doesn't neccesarly represent villians who do wrong simply in order to do wrong. They all have reasons behind them. They often do wrong, knowing it is wrong but still do so because they give in to thier own compulsions or are slaves to them either internaly or through some outside influence.

This does not make the likes of Milton, Goethe, Stoker, Mallory, Tolkien, etc "bad writers". It's simply a choice of how they present thier cosmology. If we look at Milton for example,  the ultimate classical villian, Satin chooses purposefully and knowingly to reject God not simply because he wan't to "do bad" but because he values his pride and vanity more then he does his love and loyalty to God.

 

 

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