View Full Version : 'The Ethics and Morality of lethal force in space opera'

Kas'ir Faywind
3 January 2002, 01:27 PM
This was suggested on another thread so why not. It started with a debate on what a jedi could use beside a lightsaber. one part was saying weapons are killing machines and therefore wrong.
1. maybe but what fool wouldnt have a weapon if he/she is taken as the best warrior around (samuri wouldnt be so prestigous if he died every battle because he was taught *weapon evil you no do evil*
2.The force could be argued as a weapon, pushing someone into a wall or off a cliff better be a weapon.

Basically i feel that a lightsaber is just a trade mark weapon. If one of my character found some less traditional weapons (double ls or a lengthened ls) it be ok to use it but once it was only used to harm more thatd be bad. I got the feeling as long as a Jedi is not the agressor and acts on defence.

ie. (bounty hunter hired to kill a Jedi in rebeelion era. meeting in the street Bounty says surrender with his blaster out. Jedi [using basic knowledge that he will be killed for a bounty] warns him that his life could be in danger. bounty then fires a shot and combat ensues. Jedi eventually kills the bounty hunter.

I wouldnt give a DSP for that since he gave valid warning and he was acting in self defence short term and long term(how many bounty hunters would give up on one try).

3 January 2002, 02:53 PM
Actually I would have given a DSP in your example because the Jedi had made his mind up he was going to kill the Bounty Hunter if he attacked.

Killing in a Space Opera game in unavoidable, but I am glad of the DSP rule. Personally I do not like GMing a group of murderers.

I do have a big gripe with one of the other players in the group. He's got it into his head that EVERYONE would kill their enemy if given the chance 'so they won't come bak to get revenge.' Duh! That's the whole point of a Space Opera game IMHO. The same guy when GMing would have no qualms about killing off an Incapacitated PC 'because they were the enemy.'*
I think the bad guys should play the game like Doctor Evil, and place the good guys 'in an over elaborate plan in an easily escapable situation with one inept guard' (well, not too easy).

To me the game is about Good vs. Evil, not good KILLING Evil.

Yes play the game. Sure, blast the Stormtroopers. But when the game get hung up on the killing it's time to call it a night.

* He has yet to kill a PC off this way, but if he ever does he's out of the group!

3 January 2002, 07:19 PM
Personally I think that a lightsaber is the perfect choice for a Jedi. In the hands of a well trained Jedi a lightsaber makes for a formidable defense (deflecting blaster shots, parrying other lightsaber attacks), an effective weapon that can be used for other than killing (Obi-Wan maiming the alien in the Cantina (SW4), cutting into the Trade Federation blast doors (SW1)) and taking the Jedi to a higher state of mediation and contact with the force through assembling their own lightsaber and embuing the crystals. And just like Obi-Wan said, "Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon from a more civilized time." It's easy to accidentally kill with a blaster shot but a lightsaber can be used in a way to prevent killing. I also think that anyone would reconsider messing with a person holding a glowing blade of energy. Intimidation can be quite a good deterent to battle and killing is not the only option in combat.

Kayle Skolaris
4 January 2002, 01:12 AM
Actually it's far easier to avoid killing someone with a blaster than with a lightsabre for the simple reason that lightsabres don't have stun settings. The Jedi in the initial post should get a DSP for willful stupidity, if nothing else. He could have set his blaster to stun and dropped the bounty hunter that way. Killing him to avoid having to deal with him in the future is simply murder for selfish purposes, not self defense.

Troy Henist
4 January 2002, 07:08 AM
IMO a Jedi could use any weapon he wants to.

There are going to be some instances where a Lightsaber is pretty much useless, because its a hand-to-hand weapon. So I can't see a problem in them using Blasters and the such like.

Even X-Wings are weapons of war and Luke Skywalker flies one. Also aren't there meant to be Jedi starfighters in the next film.

To finish, I also would have given the Jedi a DSP.

Kas'ir Faywind
4 January 2002, 11:01 AM
Originally posted by Troy Henist

To finish, I also would have given the Jedi a DSP.
Since I play normal Dnd as well i guess i think of the jedi more like a Paladin and hand out DSP similar as to how a paladin should act.

The Admiral
4 January 2002, 03:07 PM
Since this thread is somewhat my fault, I'm ever so slightly honour bound to comment,,,,

On ethics of violence and killing in Space Opera,,,

In general I'd agree that a space opera game, such as Star Wars, should not be about killing, it's about grand struggles, the battle of good and evil writ large.

The very essence of space opera versus sci-fi is this concept of being writ large, everything is exagerrated, huge fleets, not a few boats, charicature characters not 'realistic' ones, evil villains, heroic heores, all the stuff of opera, but in space.

Since it's all in an exaggerated setting, murder, death, killing, all have their place, and shouldn't be removed, they're part and parcel of the 'exagerrated' essence of opera, no small stories here.

BUT the heroes of opera are heroes, the villains villains. heores kill only when neccesary (Guards, stromtroopers etc) or in a big showdown. (Leia Vs. Jabba, Vader Vs. Palpatine etc) Minions are there to be cut down, heroically, yes, but they're incidental to the whole 'canvas' of the story. A space opera hero can cut, blast, hack and slash their way through a million throwaway villains in the course of his quest. BUT only to the greater good, to rescue the princess, save the galaxy.

Space opera works because you know that the bad guys ARE bad guys, the good guys ARE good guys, and that is essential to the way the story works.

"Have you killed anyone?!"
"Yes, but they were ALL bad."

4 January 2002, 03:23 PM
I wouldnt give a DSP for that since he gave valid warning and he was acting in self defence short term and long term(how many bounty hunters would give up on one try).

I agree. I never hand out DSPs to Jedi in combat unless they kill an innocent (which this Bounty Hunter is not), use a Dark Side power or use a Force power for evil, or conduct a sneak attack (like slicing someone is half from behind when they never had the chance.)

Someone said this guy should have put his blaster on stun? I do not see that you even said if your Jedi has a blaster, and even if he did this is Very tough to do. This could make widen the confrontation and risk innnocents that were around them. Alot of people are to easy to give out DSPs. Jedi are powerful combatants. Someone use the analogy of Samurai, and I would agree with that. They avoid combat, which your Jedi tried to do. Then the BH persisted and your Jedi waisted no time. It was combat, period. Just becuase your Jedi thouht he would have to kill the BH before combat ensued does not make him evil or stupid, but smart. Most BH will fight to the end, and killing them is always an option. Star Wars is not utopia, and Jedi PCs should not be punished in such a manner. He tried to resolve the conflict peacefully first, so he did the right thing and should be praised and not recieve a DSP.

4 January 2002, 03:40 PM
On morals-
Jedi are not creatures of morals.

Sometimes death is just apart of life.

ON ethics for a Jedi-
Didn't Mace Windu face down some Gank-killers with blasters drawn by looking each killer in the eye, placing his hand on his lightsaber and saying "It's your decision."? Now I'm not saying Mace did or didnot recieve a DSP but sometimes a Jedi does what he must, what is to be done, for particular tasks.

On the other hand, Odan-Urr says it is in direct conflict of the Jedi Code to use your lightsaber for intimidation. NOt to use it to create fear but end a conflict as quickly and mercifully as possible.

For future reference the first statement is on pg. 156 CR, the Windu story is on pg. 231 CR and the Odan-Urr reference is from pg. 157 CR.

4 January 2002, 04:12 PM
Originally posted by Kobayashi_Maru

Didn't Mace Windu face down some Gank-killers with blasters drawn by looking each killer in the eye, placing his hand on his lightsaber and saying "It's your decision."? Now I'm not saying Mace did or didnot recieve a DSP but sometimes a Jedi does what he must,

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but why would you recieve a DSP for this, wouldn't it be a lightside thing to do, to try and end fights before they start? It just sounds to me like you think he would have gotten a DSP for this.

4 January 2002, 04:44 PM
But I kinda took it as a threat with a lightsaber (as stated above) and that he had pre-determined the outcome (as stated in original post).

Yoda says "If a weapon you show, 'A warrior am I!' you say. And who is best must all other warriors know of you." So maybe you're right.
Since the thread was here I thought I would bring it up for some food for thought.

Kayle Skolaris
5 January 2002, 12:51 AM
How could laying into someone with a blaster set to stun widen the conflict? When a blaster is set to stun all you need is a Wounded or better result to drop the guy. Any bystanders in the way might go sleepy-bye for a bit and at worst get a knot on their skull when they fall over, but that's it. Problem solved, no one hurt, and no DSP incurred. Where's the problem here?

Conversely, if the fool Jedi yanks out his sabre and starts swinging, chances are any hit will kill the BH, maim him at best. And any innocent bystanders in the vicinity are salami slices if they get hit with a sabre!

Anytime a policeman draws his gun, he's risking "combat" but most of those instances don't result in someone being killed. Even after saying "put the weapon on the ground and step away from it" the policeman is bound by law and duty to try to take the perpetrator ALIVE even if he chooses to ignore the warning. Why should Jedi be held to any less stringent standards than our modern law enforcement?

Now that we've looked at the morality of it, let's look at the legal aspects of it. The bounty hunter, regardless of what your personal feelings towards bounty hunters are, is a legally empowered independent law enforcer. During the Rebellion, being a Jedi is ILLEGAL. Whether that law is good or bad is not the issue, it is still a law. And those who carry out that law are NOT necessarily evil. Kas'ir says the bounty hunter was hired to KILL the Jedi, yet also says the hunter was giving the Jedi a chance to surrender and come peacefully. He didn't have to give the Jedi that chance, but did it anyway, and he's the one who ended up in the morgue for his efforts.

The Admiral claims that Space Opera is about Grand Struggles and the Good Guys beating the Bad Guys and that may be the case, but it is NOT an excuse to take your brain off the hook and act like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Those two figures may be romantic folk heroes, but they were still CRIMINALS and in the end THEY were the bad guys, not the Pinkerton Detective Agency sent to bring them in.

5 January 2002, 01:24 PM
Originally posted by Kayle Skolaris
Actually it's far easier to avoid killing someone with a blaster than with a lightsabre for the simple reason that lightsabres don't have stun settings.

Actually they have stun switches you can install into a lightsabre!!!!!!!!! I forget the cost but it adds 10 or 15 to the DC.

Kayle Skolaris
5 January 2002, 01:40 PM
Eh, that's purely an EU invention like variable-length blades... There's no evidence whatsoever judging by the movies that lightsabres can be set to stun. Otherwise Obi-Wan would have USED such a setting in the Mos Eisley cantina rather than maim that Aqualish for life.

5 January 2002, 01:50 PM
Originally posted by Kayle Skolaris
Eh, that's purely an EU invention like variable-length blades...

Does EU not count anymore? I mean isn't that what all this gaming is? Y not have a stun switch? There's one for blasters; what would the difference be?

"Reviewed your opinion is."

5 January 2002, 01:52 PM
Somewhere in the jedi code, it is said that if you draw your lightsaber, then you fight with the intent of killing. You shouldn't restrain but it should be the last ressort.

Kayle Skolaris
5 January 2002, 01:53 PM
Uhhh, maybe cuz blasters aren't lightsabres? Geez, why does a couple of glowing energy-beamish thingies HAVE to be the same thing? The don't act alike, they don't function the same way, and they aren't used in the same way, so why in hell should we assume they're the same thing?

5 January 2002, 02:02 PM
I thought I asked y there couldn't be a stun switch for lightsabers. Obviously blasters and sabers aren't the same, I didn't mean they would use the same type of stun switch either. I was just thinking it was a way for a player to use his characters saber without killing if wanted.

Kayle Skolaris
5 January 2002, 02:07 PM
Just the established nature of lightsabres seems to be diametrically opposed to a "stun setting". I mean, they're not called "universal cutting tools" by Rebel SpecOps because it sounds cool!

Or maybe they do... Ya never know with Rebel SpecOps...

5 January 2002, 02:15 PM
Could possibly be, but it is a tool for GMs to clearly avoid said drama.

The Admiral
5 January 2002, 03:12 PM
Whilst i am genrally ill disposed to a Jedi using anything other than a straight, common, or garden lightsabre (For reasons expressed in another thread) I can see a possible arguement for stun sabres based on Bokken. Now, as I'm sure any asiophile will point out, Bokken can certainly be lethal in the hands of a master, they are equally certainly nothing like as dangerous as swords.
Personally, I would be not entirely unhappy with the idea that Jedi use non-lethal sabres as training aids (And to be honest, they'd have to be extraordinarily stupid not to, since one learns mainly by making mistakes) I would not be at all happy with the idea of Jedi carrying a non-lethal sabre as their main weapon. (And I'm not at all keen on having lightsabres with gizmos).

Anyway, I would agree with Kayle that;
A: Lightsabres generally do not have stun settings. (And further, lightsabres that have all these bells and whistles are not 'pure' and as such would be seen with some disdain by other Jedi.)
B: there is no reason to assume that since blasters can be set to stun, lightsabers can also.

But I'd also agree with kobayashi that there are, in EU, stun sabres. (That Obiwan clearly didn't have one, or that we haven't seen one in canon does not preclude there existence per se.)

For one thing, there has been some EU evidence to suggest that lightsabres have two settings, the flat cutting beam, and the annular blocking beam (Actually backed up a lot by stills from the LS fights in canon) This is why (according to the theory);
1: Vader's sabre clearly passes staright through Obi-Wans in one move in their fight on the Death Star (Both in cutting mode)
2: Luke's sabre effectively bounces off Vader's armour in cloud city (He hit with the blocking beam)
3: In various stills, the end of a sabre is either pointed, or flat.)
4: When viewed hilt on, a sabre either appears as a glowing circle (Blocking beam) or hardly at all (Cutting beam)

I like this theory particularly because it
1: Adds an element to lightsabre fighting
2: Works as a corrolary to the traditional Samourai Katana sword's having a cutting side and a blocking side. (Trust me on this; if two Katana are swung together blade to blade, they don't often go 'ping' and bounce off, there's a very good chance one or both blade will snap. At the very least, there will be a whopping great notch cut out of both blades that effectively ruins the sword,,,)

5 January 2002, 03:31 PM
Originally posted by The Admiral
(Trust me on this; if two Katana are swung together blade to blade, they don't often go 'ping' and bounce off, there's a very good chance one or both blade will snap. At the very least, there will be a whopping great notch cut out of both blades that effectively ruins the sword,,,)

I would have to agree, I own a large collection of katana and study kendo and use to practice (more steadily) kenjitsu. I have broken many swords and depending on quality of craftmanship truely stands out.

On a side note, Ruroni Kenshin has his katana reversed (sharpened on the backside of the curve) in the anime sereis.

Kayle Skolaris
5 January 2002, 03:40 PM
It's worth noting that Miyamoto Musashi used a bokken exclusively for much of his career, defeating opponents armed with katanas... Of course, Musashi had a habit of never dueling someone he didn't know for a fact he could beat, but that's beside the point...

The Admiral
5 January 2002, 03:59 PM
Yeah, that plus he had no problem blocking a Katana with a Bokken, trapping the blade in the wood, and booting his opponant in the face,,,

(Not dissing the guy, he had style and skill, it's just that his edge was really in how to fight dirty, something most 'textbook' opponants don't think of,,,)

Kayle Skolaris
5 January 2002, 04:05 PM
Musashi was definitely more into winning than fighting honorably... Of course, he'd probably cut my heart out for saying that!

The Admiral
5 January 2002, 04:23 PM
(merrily chasing Kayle through the boards this evening,,,)

Possibly, at least, if he weren't dead.

"Where have all the Master's gone?"
"They got out-engineered dude!"

Frzz Drubar
9 January 2002, 12:06 PM
Th BH is a legal representative? So as a law enforcement officer has the right to arrest the Jedi?

So if a stormtrooper comes up and tells you to drop your weapons and come peacefully, you're supposed to believe him and aquiesce to his wishes?

Jedi in service of the Rebellion are most certainly criminals but not evil by any stretch of the imagination.

The code is pretty clear about never attacking first. As long as the BH attacked first with potentially lethal force or intention then it's self defense.

And it's hard to kill with rubber bullets too but it doesn't mean you go shooting them into a crowd of people when you only want to stop/hurt one guy. Spraying blaster fire is a lot less controlled than a lightsaber in the hands of a Jedi.

Killing isn't always the best choice, though I agree. You can also attack the weapon, if your close enough, then they can't shoot you or anyone else. But if the Jedi was at range then there may have been little alternative to killing the BH especially after he warned him so nicely. And that warning could have been made without the lightsaber drawn so as to avoid using the Ls for intimidation, but visually it is pretty cool to imagine the scene.

Did the Jedi have Affect Mind? he could have used that in a lot of ways as well.

I'm saying perhaps that the Jedi didn't make the best choice, but a whole DSP for basically self defense may be strong, perhaps instead a warning and a period of meditation and then if it keeps happening a DSP or more. A session with a master for a discussion on style and grace, discretion and valor, etc, etc

10 January 2002, 02:17 PM
In my first SW game that I gm'ed I was savagely cruel to the Jedi. I let them know a lightsabre is a weapon of ultimate justice. Designed to kill in a swift stroke, this weapon's sole intent was to end combat before it could begin. Thus is was a weapon of death and usually killed whenever it was pulled....

To represent the awesome power of a lightsabre. I gave all LS damage bonuses to represent the lethality of the weapon. However, whenever a Jedi drew his weapon and killed he got a DSP unless his life, or the lives of his friends or companions were in a direct threat, which meant the Jedi only turned to his light sabre, after every method of avoiding combat was pursued. These thugs that attack you in hand to hand pose no direct threat to your life....so if you used your LS in my game I handed out the DSP's! =P

It was cruel, but in the end it worked out well. The Jedi were real Jedi who never jumped the gun, who often resolved disputes without violence, and were indeed the keepers of the peace. In fact the only time they pulled LS's was when the Sith came to town.....

The Admiral
10 January 2002, 05:35 PM
You gave a DSP to anyone pulling a sabre if they're not in combat? What if they wanted to do something else, cut a door down, say? Did they have to stand under the door so when it fell over they might be crushed?

"That door's a lethal danger! Better let me handle it!"
"Delphlorian, it's just a door."
"JUST a door, heh, last time I heard that it was right before a pair of automatics levelled a platoon,,,"
"What are you talking about?!"
"Stand back, things are about to get UGLY,,,"
(Snap, hiss)
"Don't stand there, it'll fall on you!"
"I'd like to see it try!"
"I don't think you should have distracted him just then,,,"
"Cos the doors splatted him now."
"He was our only Jedi."
"He was a nerf."
"Hey, his hand's still moving, he's alive!"
(Sounds of two people jumping up and down on a door,,,,)

11 January 2002, 09:58 AM
Lol Admiral thats a funny post

But seriously I wasn't that mean. I let the Jedi cut open dors, chop down telephone poles, slice air speeders in half....

I handed out the DSP whenever a jedi drew his lightsabre against a inferior opponant. Most people in combat are there not necessarily ti kill you. I know when I'm in a street fight that my objective is to kick the sh*t out of my foe, perhaps knock him out, not kill him. Anyways I ran my npc's and villains just like in real life. Enemies would talk crap (thus provoking a incident) and try to fist fight first, and if a Jedi drew his LS in a fist fight I would let him have it...

Or against Gungan terrorists (who needs a lethal LS for that?)
High school kids trashing the Jedi air speeder
Biker gangs (using chains and knives does not constitute a life threatening situation IMHO.)
When the unarmed girl androids went haywire and attacked (they might be strong, but they had no hand weapons!)
Fighting unarmed martial artist (your a jedi, you can beat this guy without you LS!).

I only wanted my players to use to the LS carefully after much consideration, and other options have been exhausted. Usually in a life or death situation. It has been my experience that whenever a LS is drawn in combat someone usually dies shortly after. It's a weapon of lethal power that demands respect. In my game, 1200 years before the Phantom Menace, pulling your LS made bystanders fear and awe you. Certain enemies had to make a Willpower save just to stay around. Every critical roll that came, "CHOP!" there went a limb.

By being mean to the Jedi, they were much more cautious (after 2 jedi died, and one went to the DS and had to be killed) the last jedi is a noble and regal figure who tries to use wisdom before violence and it makes me so happy to see that the player has turned into a real jedi.....

Frzz Drubar
14 January 2002, 06:07 AM
Sounds like it worked out pretty well

the chaff and the grain so to speak