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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1189 Posts

Posted - 29 Sep 2018 :  20:05:27  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great Reader Mage,

Great point. I didn't even think in a lapse of judgment to consider the Polyhedron mags, which is weird, because I have referenced them a bajillion times.

I'm going to have to dig into that, just out of curiosity.

Thanks!



quote:
Originally posted by The Masked Mage

As for it being detailed in a source, the ONLY possibility I can think of would be Polyhedron Magazine. Polyhedron is the main source of all things Ravens Bluff. I've read most of the issues but it is possible the spell is from the dozen or so I never bought and cannot find PDFs for.




Robert McDonell
Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1189 Posts

Posted - 29 Sep 2018 :  20:10:58  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great Reader Mage,

Well, if that is the case, wouldn't the situation with Nystul then allow him to in fact (disregarding that the Shadow Weave wasn't a thing yet, so, play along there with retcon stuff) potentially fanangle up some thing for a Shadow Weave version of Nystul's Nullifier. What are your thoughts on that, Great Reader Mage?

Best regards,




quote:
Originally posted by The Masked Mage

In regards to the weave and spellcasting while away from Faerun:

The Weave is not the source of all magic. It is the form and structure that has been imposed upon magic in Faerun by Mystra. When a mage from the realms goes elsewhere there is still magic to draw on - it is just not structured in the Weave as it is in the realms.

The opposite is also true. Coming to the Realms does not make other spellcasters unable to cast spells either.

Finally, to clarify your word usage. Wizard's do not "gain access" to spells. They create effects by manipulating magical energies in various specific ways. This is why the memorization.

Priests need access to their deity to be given spells to cast.

Big difference there.


Robert McDonell
Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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The Masked Mage
Great Reader

USA
2148 Posts

Posted - 29 Sep 2018 :  23:28:22  Show Profile  Send The Masked Mage an AOL message  Click to see The Masked Mage's MSN Messenger address Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't see Nystul as potentially being into the Shadow Weave. Most of Nystul's spells involve a connection to another plane - Positive or Negative Material / Radiance / Mineral / etc. to achieve an effect.

The only spell that has anything to do with shadows would be Nystul's enveloping darkness, but this is clearly an improved form of the more basic darkness spells, not a spell manipulating shadows.

Nystul favored alteration magics as well as illusion or obscuring magic. It also would not seem right to me that he was a regular planar traveler - he was more of a bring the planar to me kind of mage.
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1189 Posts

Posted - 30 Sep 2018 :  00:32:45  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great Reader Mage,

Though I do agree with you overall, my primary point was to focus on the valid point that Master Sage made, which was essentially: Mystra would cut off someone going around nuking people with Nystul's Nullifier from the Weave. I was thinking, hypothetically, that if a wizard were cut off from the Weave using Nystul's Nullifier, that he could tap into the Shadow Weave to gain access to magic to use the spell. This is of course assuming that the Weave was still good to go in terms of the retcon point that Master Sage made, which was definitely a valid point he made.

Best regards,




quote:
Originally posted by The Masked Mage

I don't see Nystul as potentially being into the Shadow Weave. Most of Nystul's spells involve a connection to another plane - Positive or Negative Material / Radiance / Mineral / etc. to achieve an effect.

The only spell that has anything to do with shadows would be Nystul's enveloping darkness, but this is clearly an improved form of the more basic darkness spells, not a spell manipulating shadows.

Nystul favored alteration magics as well as illusion or obscuring magic. It also would not seem right to me that he was a regular planar traveler - he was more of a bring the planar to me kind of mage.


Robert McDonell
Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
33194 Posts

Posted - 30 Sep 2018 :  00:46:01  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think if someone was using that spell as a weapon, they'd very quickly find themselves encountering some Chosen with Laeral's Crowning Touch prepared -- assuming they weren't simply blasted out of existence. This Power Word: Nerf spell violates everything Mystra stands for. She's going to come down hard on someone for using it -- so hard that the Shadow Weave would not be a viable option.

(And honestly, the Shadow Weave was one of the worst ideas to come out of 3E, as evidenced by the fact that the designers couldn't agree on its origin or use. It was a plot device about as elegantly deployed as a hand grenade)

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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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33194 Posts

Posted - 30 Sep 2018 :  00:50:47  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cpthero2

Master Rupert,

I can very much appreciate your perspective there. I've had a great many people agree with your position as well. In fact, so many so, that I "interview" (for lack of a better term) people before I offer a seat at the table, so I can make sure they get a full and complete idea as to what to expect in my campaigns. I think it is the only reasonable, ethical thing to do for sure.

I agree, and I think your idea as to a wizard war, or having factions (Harpers, CoD, EE, and others) looking to gain access to it for their own reasons is a fantastic idea!!! I am absolutely taking that idea and implementing it into my campaign. I will most assuredly cite you as the respectable source that came up with the idea, unless you want to remain anonymous (minus my players checking this out, haha).

I feel that spell should have some sort of work done to it to make it have a process. For example, don't make it a standard action spell, make it a True Ritual, that requires multiple casters, and a prolonged casting time (like one day, or more!) to ensure that it is not used in that way. This sounds absolutely awesome. See, this is why I love dialogue from here! I could see that spell coming from Jhaamdath, and being really ancient, or something like that.

What do you think about that sort of reworking of it?

Best regards as always,


No, I was not talking about factions making use of it. I was talking about a setting-wide, highly destructive conflict resulting from individuals trying to use the spell as a weapon, or prevent its use as a weapon.

To me, this is just a logical conclusion.

If you like the idea, I can't stop you from running with it. But please don't associate my name with it -- even if it's only at your table, I want no part in destroying the setting.

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Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1189 Posts

Posted - 30 Sep 2018 :  01:59:35  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Master Rupert,

Agreed! That is such a fantastic spell as well: brutal, epic, and dare I say...awesome-sauce! I completely agree that Master and/or Senior Harpers would hunt that person down relentlessly, and solve the problem.

I agree as well that Our Lady of Spells is and has been against that kind of perversion and destruction of things. Plot twist for high level power characters...

...the characters have been framed, and cursed. The scroll is stolen, planted on them (somehow, this is still an on the fly idea.....perhaps an agent of Mask?), and then cursed when abjurative magics affect them. Imagine having some power house Senior Harpers on your track, especially if the characters were former or current Harpers themselves? Anyhow...sounds like possible fun times with that kind of material.

I can completely appreciate the dislike of the Shadow Weave. I feel they could have just focused on the real hatred between Selune and Shar, and develop something in that vein, if they wanted to get new stuff out for players.

Thank you as always for the dialogue!

Best regards,




quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I think if someone was using that spell as a weapon, they'd very quickly find themselves encountering some Chosen with Laeral's Crowning Touch prepared -- assuming they weren't simply blasted out of existence. This Power Word: Nerf spell violates everything Mystra stands for. She's going to come down hard on someone for using it -- so hard that the Shadow Weave would not be a viable option.

(And honestly, the Shadow Weave was one of the worst ideas to come out of 3E, as evidenced by the fact that the designers couldn't agree on its origin or use. It was a plot device about as elegantly deployed as a hand grenade)


Robert McDonell
Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1189 Posts

Posted - 30 Sep 2018 :  02:07:27  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Master Rupert,

Sure, I can see your point there. I think what would make something like that possibly a fantastically fun option, is to really find a way to make it:
  • Near impossible to get
  • Have massive contingencies in place to protect it, i.e. teleporting wizards in, and all sorts of other protective measures
  • Make use of it, as with the idea of a True Rituals I mentioned a requirement

Sort of like the movie (kind of a bad analogy, but I think you'll get my point) National Treasure. The Declaration of Independence is stolen, and everything is moving after you to get it. Since it takes 'x' days to cast (or whatever), and multiple people of exceptional power to cast it, the clock is running. I bet if done well, with a lot of planning, the eventual wipe out that you are speaking too, would likely not happen, or be significantly mitigated.

Anyhow, as to the mentioning of your name, your wish is my command: I will not mention you at all regarding it.

As always, thank you for the dialogue!

Best regards,



quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by cpthero2

Master Rupert,

I can very much appreciate your perspective there. I've had a great many people agree with your position as well. In fact, so many so, that I "interview" (for lack of a better term) people before I offer a seat at the table, so I can make sure they get a full and complete idea as to what to expect in my campaigns. I think it is the only reasonable, ethical thing to do for sure.

I agree, and I think your idea as to a wizard war, or having factions (Harpers, CoD, EE, and others) looking to gain access to it for their own reasons is a fantastic idea!!! I am absolutely taking that idea and implementing it into my campaign. I will most assuredly cite you as the respectable source that came up with the idea, unless you want to remain anonymous (minus my players checking this out, haha).

I feel that spell should have some sort of work done to it to make it have a process. For example, don't make it a standard action spell, make it a True Ritual, that requires multiple casters, and a prolonged casting time (like one day, or more!) to ensure that it is not used in that way. This sounds absolutely awesome. See, this is why I love dialogue from here! I could see that spell coming from Jhaamdath, and being really ancient, or something like that.

What do you think about that sort of reworking of it?

Best regards as always,


No, I was not talking about factions making use of it. I was talking about a setting-wide, highly destructive conflict resulting from individuals trying to use the spell as a weapon, or prevent its use as a weapon.

To me, this is just a logical conclusion.

If you like the idea, I can't stop you from running with it. But please don't associate my name with it -- even if it's only at your table, I want no part in destroying the setting.


Robert McDonell
Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring

Edited by - cpthero2 on 30 Sep 2018 04:26:23
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1189 Posts

Posted - 30 Sep 2018 :  04:28:44  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Master Rupert,

I also wanted to say again as well...I've really enjoyed this particular conversation a great deal for such an old post. I've attained some great insight from you, and clarifications as well.

As always, best regards.



quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by cpthero2

Master Rupert,

I can very much appreciate your perspective there. I've had a great many people agree with your position as well. In fact, so many so, that I "interview" (for lack of a better term) people before I offer a seat at the table, so I can make sure they get a full and complete idea as to what to expect in my campaigns. I think it is the only reasonable, ethical thing to do for sure.

I agree, and I think your idea as to a wizard war, or having factions (Harpers, CoD, EE, and others) looking to gain access to it for their own reasons is a fantastic idea!!! I am absolutely taking that idea and implementing it into my campaign. I will most assuredly cite you as the respectable source that came up with the idea, unless you want to remain anonymous (minus my players checking this out, haha).

I feel that spell should have some sort of work done to it to make it have a process. For example, don't make it a standard action spell, make it a True Ritual, that requires multiple casters, and a prolonged casting time (like one day, or more!) to ensure that it is not used in that way. This sounds absolutely awesome. See, this is why I love dialogue from here! I could see that spell coming from Jhaamdath, and being really ancient, or something like that.

What do you think about that sort of reworking of it?

Best regards as always,


No, I was not talking about factions making use of it. I was talking about a setting-wide, highly destructive conflict resulting from individuals trying to use the spell as a weapon, or prevent its use as a weapon.

To me, this is just a logical conclusion.

If you like the idea, I can't stop you from running with it. But please don't associate my name with it -- even if it's only at your table, I want no part in destroying the setting.


Robert McDonell
Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1189 Posts

Posted - 12 Feb 2020 :  07:10:32  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hello all,

I must say, after going back and revisiting some of these old scrolls, that I would have loved to have seen Bran Skorlsun get his justice on part of the Harper's against The Blackstaff with something like Nystul's Nullifier, Mind Rape, or another spell that would have stripped him of his abilities. Khelbun "The Blackstaff" Arunsun is a vile, horrible, evil, hypocritical tyrant that should be pulled into the ranks of Bane/Xvim and made their high priest.

I would pay-per-view that session with the Blackstaff getting his dues! haha

Best regards,



Robert McDonell
Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
33194 Posts

Posted - 12 Feb 2020 :  11:19:43  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bran was being a jerk, letting his personal issues overcome his judgement. Just because he didn't realize Khelben was playing a deeper game doesn't mean Khelben was wrong.

Here's the biggest kicker: Harpers who go astray lose their divine blessings... But those who join Khelben's group don't. The gods, then, support Khelben.

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Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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TBeholder
Master of Realmslore

1990 Posts

Posted - 12 Feb 2020 :  23:57:20  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cpthero2


As to the Shadow Weave and places like Oerth, I do have a somewhat related question. Since Realmspace covers the Realms, how exactly do wizards/mages/priests gain access to their spells when away from the Realms? I totally get what you mean regarding a lack of Shadow Weave for Oerth, but it seems weird how when Realms casters leave, they can still cast. Though I must admit that my planes knowledge is my weakest area of study.

It's mutually compatible with most magical environments. Mostly.
IIRC there were mentions of spells working only in Realmspace. But then, there are spells working only on Acheron, Ethereal or Prime, or under moonlit sky at night, or in mythal. Or on Demiplane of Dread. So why not.
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert


Here's the biggest kicker: Harpers who go astray lose their divine blessings... But those who join Khelben's group don't. The gods, then, support Khelben.

Speaking of Harper blessings, the same applies (even more so) to the Emerald Enclave hunting down wizards, including those co-sponsored by all 3 of their own deities.
It looks like gods tend to be very laidback about minor schisms and heresies.
And if Emerald Enclave and the different Harper factions are acceptable, a personal vendetta between two messed up mortals is merely business as usual.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch

Edited by - TBeholder on 13 Feb 2020 00:08:02
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TheIriaeban
Learned Scribe

USA
146 Posts

Posted - 13 Feb 2020 :  02:12:16  Show Profile Send TheIriaeban a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I think if someone was using that spell as a weapon, they'd very quickly find themselves encountering some Chosen with Laeral's Crowning Touch prepared -- assuming they weren't simply blasted out of existence. This Power Word: Nerf spell violates everything Mystra stands for. She's going to come down hard on someone for using it -- so hard that the Shadow Weave would not be a viable option.

(And honestly, the Shadow Weave was one of the worst ideas to come out of 3E, as evidenced by the fact that the designers couldn't agree on its origin or use. It was a plot device about as elegantly deployed as a hand grenade)



Thank you, Wooly. I have been having a devil of a time trying to shoehorn the Shadow Weave into a 2e environment. Your comment made me realize I don't have to do that since is a 3e product and I can just use shadow magic instead.

And thanks cpthero2 for tossing a rez on the thread.

"Iriaebor is a fine city. So what if you can have violence between merchant groups break out at any moment. Not every city can offer dinner AND a show."
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1189 Posts

Posted - 13 Feb 2020 :  02:51:55  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Master Rupert,

I certainly did expect, and am pleased that you chose to comment, on this very interesting topic. I enjoyed the discussion back in October 2018, and provide a URL to that discussion for any that may be interested:
http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=22542&SearchTerms=cpthero2,arunsun,bran,harper

I want to begin by saying that I completely agree that Bran was a "jerk" as well. In fact, I believe that Bran Skorlsun went too far, and that his lieutenants should have dealt with him in a powerfully judicious way. However, just because Bran is, as I agree, a "jerk", has zero bearing on Khelben. They are their own individuals, and they have to be held to account individually, not together. Utilizing the processes that the Harper's had for these very circumstances would have sufficed.

In light of your having identified Bran for his bad behavior as well, I reiterate my acknowledgement of that behavior again by hearkening back to the post in the aforementioned URL. By Bran Skorlsun press-ganging, he went against the Code of the Harpers: point blank. There is no justification for it. It was atrocious. In fact, the actual code he broke, is quoted from the earlier URL:

quote:
quote:
All beings should walk free of fear, with the right to live their lives as they wish.
He definitely screwed up here, and he (Bran) should be policed for this as well, as the new defacto leader and punished as well.

quote:
That's another easy one, "the Harpers police their own", they're like Mafia, they're organized crime only mostly working against the bad guys, if one of them f**ks up they clear their own mess, they don't bring external power groups in it (they may seek assistance of specific individuals recognized as Harper friends but not whole churches or organizations).
In this case, they are not policing their own, because at least Khelben, and likely the rest of the powerhouses (Simbul, Elminster, Alustriel, and the rest) have decided that they are better than the Code of the Harpers because of their power, and they will allow those with sufficient power to do what they want. Now, ironically, it is hard to disagree with might is right when you get whacked and that is just what the end result is, lol. However, it is a hard pill to swallow when the Senior/Master Harpers say they still believe in that, when they more align with the Xvimite/Banite church.


As I articulated in that argument I posed back in October 2018, Khelben's actions were that of a consequentialist/utilitarian ethic. Khelben essentially threw the baby out but kept the bath water. When it comes to Khelben's justifications for his horrific behavior he demonstrates an appalling affront to a moral code that a) he said he subscribed to in the Harper's, and b) one that doesn't have to justify the extent of damage he caused in order to be "correct" in his view. The man effectively proclaimed himself above the Harper Code, and when confronted about it, implied he was above the law. He didn't show the moral and ethical courage to hang around and argue his point and face the Harper tribunal. Instead, with all of his might and authority, he left. He took his football and went home. He went to sulk and create a new organization that now has evil undead and crime lords among their ranks. I would argue having an evil vampire (Asraf el Kahaman) and an evil crimelord (Kiirma Blackmane) who managed the entire crime syndicate in Riatavin as the Cloakmaster of the Shadow Thieves, demonstrates that The Blackstaff is as morally ambiguous as they come. He doesn't care what it takes to get to the finish line, as long as he gets there. The ends justify the means. The Blackstaff acted like the coward he is, and he personified it through those actions he took from the moment that he made that deal with Fzoul Chembryl.

The point that I articulated back in 2018, and reaffirm here is: one can justify the actions of the person without knowing the ethic behind it, which is exactly and perfectly encapsulated by Plato, but a viable excuse/reason it does not become on its own. I mean, afterall, this entire argument is about values, ethics, morals, and the principles that guide the purported heroes and villains of the Realms.

quote:
Imagine not being able to distinguish the real cause, from that without which the cause would not be able to act, as a cause. It is what the majority appear to do, like people groping in the dark; they call it a cause, thus giving it a name that does not belong to it. That is why one man surrounds the earth with a vortex to make the heavens keep it in place, another makes the air support it like a wide lid. As for their capacity of being in the best place they could be at this very time, this they do not look for, nor do they believe it to have any divine force, but they believe that they will some time discover a stronger and more immortal Atlas to hold everything together more, and they do not believe that the truly good and 'binding' binds and holds them together.
—#8201;Plato, Phaedo 99


Never does Khelben articulate in a cogent fashion to those who have the authority to judge (Bran, and others) in a system he agreed to abide by, why what he was doing was in fact, good. I would say I am surprised, but cowards rarely do face up to the music. He just takes the utilitarian approach, explaining it away teleologically. Hubris doesn't even begin to encapsulate the excuses that man belabors all who would listen to him as he orates from his bully pulpit, protected by his life ending magics.

Regarding the moral authority argument you appear to inductively imply, it eliminates a fundamentally crucial component: there is an assumption that divine blessings are good, and that good beings get and maintain those blessings. Therefore, they must be good, because they still have them.

All that this means in fact, is that the gods have an ethic, that includes moral actions taken by some such as the Blackstaff, that they assent to. That doesn't mean that those who assent to such actions are not evil. In this case, I argue that those gods who as well went along with maintaining the divine blessings on any and all of those associated with the Blackstaff, are advocating evil deeds, deceptively done under the most dubious of ethical circumstances, at best. Let's not take my word for it though, let's take a look at a couple of the gods who back in 720DR were in quite the ethical and moral competition with each other, who have an impact on the divine blessings...

Silvanus: Silvanus was seen as a force of good by being a contributing member at the Dancing Place. However, Silvanus has long been supporting the Druids of the Emerald Enclave (since approximately 717DR, per Vilhon Reach accessory), who are known to commit absolutely horrific atrocities. So, this is one of those gods that gives his "divine blessing", and it hasn't been taken, so therefore there is some goodness to the Harper's? Quite the opposite, and here is the evidence from the "Vilhon Reach" accessory, page 14:

quote:
Those That Harp have had a difficult time operating in these southern lands. Although opposition from the Red Wizards and the Zhentarim have always been a concern for the Harpers, the Emerald Enclave has proven much more effective at thwarting the Harper cause. It is widely held by the Harpers that the intention of the druids is to hold the Reach under one central authority, thereby making it easier to establish their political dominance of the area.


Perhaps this is all one big misunderstanding. Perhaps Silvanus didn't back these possible rogue agents of tyranny. Perhaps, instead, he doesn't know what's going on? Afterall, when divine caster's go off the rails, they lose access to their powers. Let's see what canon has to say about this in "Vilhon Reach", page 17, left hand pane, paragraph 5:

quote:
Silvanus is also the patron of the Emerald Enclave, the band of druids that seeks to keep the entire Vilhon Reach area ecologically sound. That groups violence and ruthlessness are as legendary as the plagues that swept through the Vilhon. But the relationship between the Enclave and Silvanus is anything but apparent. Not all priests of Silvanus are members of the Enclave, so an effective strike against religious leaders by angry politicians can only serve to anger the Church, most likely causing them to cease #147;clean-up#148; operations within the town or city. In addition, the townspeople who serve Silvanus don’t necessarily associate the Emerald Enclave with the clergy of Silvanus. The teachings of the church of Silvanus dictate that those who serve the Enclave do so with Silvanus’s approval. If that approval did not exist, those druids would lose their spellcasting abilities.


It’s obvious here: Silvanus works against the Harper’s by using an affirmatively sanctioned terror group to savage people and politically dominate them. There’s a code of the Harper's that had something to say about that.

- Harper's work against villainy and wickedness wherever they find it-but they work ever mindful of the consequences of what they do.

"The groups violence and ruthlessness are as legendary as the plagues that swept through the Vilhon" all while proving to be "effective at thwarting the Harper cause" and "thereby making it easier to establish their political dominance of the area." There is another code of the Harper's that said something about that.

- No extreme is good. For freedom to flourish, all must be in balance: the powers of realms, the reaches of the cities and the wilderlands into each other, and the influence of one being over another.

This is already a prosecution that would take under one minute, but there is sadly more, as I love on to Mielikki.


Mielikki: "Intelligent beings can live in harmony with the wild without requiring the destruction of one in the name of the other." (Mielikki dogma excerpt).

So, even the Shadoweirs don't have a reputation (Mielikki's forest knights) of committing the same violence, ruthlessness, political dominance, and active thwarting of the Harper's that the Enclave does. So, how is it that those gods share in the same organization with ethics so at odds with one another? I think we're getting to the bottom of the issue at hand, and that is that the gods are just not as "good" as they are purported to be. Therefore, neither are the Harper’s, since their entire ethical and moral underpinning is based on corruption from the top and their founding. Not in whole, mind you, but enough to undermine the purpose of this organization.

I could keep going on the ethical and moral conflicts that exist between the gods that participated at the Dancing Place, but suffice to say, what I've provided adamantly demonstrates that the reason those divine blessings are not being taken away, is because the gods themselves are pushing a utilitarian/consequentialist approach to actions resulting in horrific outcomes in many circumstances, and as long as the end result is what they want, they don't care what happens. Otherwise, wouldn't some of the gods from the Dancing Place have already pulled some divine blessings from The Blackstaff? The answer is yes, they would have. Whether some people may want to believe it or not, it really is just as bad as it seems. They've been following a layering of corrupt influence from gods that are just not what they purport themselves to be, and that corruption spreads to the agents of their wills: the Harper's.

The Harper's need a serious clean up. They have far too many actors pushing agendas of corruption, evil, justification for bad/evil behavior, and generally speaking, have way too many thugs, and not enough leaders providing oversight of those thugs.

I wish to leave this fantastic debate with a heartfelt, genuine statement:

I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to debate such high minded, challenging, and engaging topics with you Master Rupert! :) Maslow would be quite happy at this degree of nerdish, self-actualization!

Best regards as always,




quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Bran was being a jerk, letting his personal issues overcome his judgement. Just because he didn't realize Khelben was playing a deeper game doesn't mean Khelben was wrong.
Here's the biggest kicker: Harpers who go astray lose their divine blessings... But those who join Khelben's group don't. The gods, then, support Khelben.



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cpthero2
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Master TBeholder,

I just posted an involved post in response to Master Rupert's earlier rebuttal.

I could not ever agree more with you, with the exception of minor heresies. If you reference the material from the Vilhon Reach accessory between pages 14 and 17 that I referenced in my rebuttal to Master Rupert, you'll see all of the damning, prosecution worthy crimes, terrorism, and tyranny on display. Silvanus is a major sponsor of terror, and makes no excuses for it. Clearly, he sends out some seriously hard hitting terrorists that go after nation-states for the gods sakes! haha

Best regards,




quote:
Originally posted by TBeholder

quote:
Originally posted by cpthero2


As to the Shadow Weave and places like Oerth, I do have a somewhat related question. Since Realmspace covers the Realms, how exactly do wizards/mages/priests gain access to their spells when away from the Realms? I totally get what you mean regarding a lack of Shadow Weave for Oerth, but it seems weird how when Realms casters leave, they can still cast. Though I must admit that my planes knowledge is my weakest area of study.

It's mutually compatible with most magical environments. Mostly.
IIRC there were mentions of spells working only in Realmspace. But then, there are spells working only on Acheron, Ethereal or Prime, or under moonlit sky at night, or in mythal. Or on Demiplane of Dread. So why not.
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert


Here's the biggest kicker: Harpers who go astray lose their divine blessings... But those who join Khelben's group don't. The gods, then, support Khelben.

Speaking of Harper blessings, the same applies (even more so) to the Emerald Enclave hunting down wizards, including those co-sponsored by all 3 of their own deities.
It looks like gods tend to be very laidback about minor schisms and heresies.
And if Emerald Enclave and the different Harper factions are acceptable, a personal vendetta between two messed up mortals is merely business as usual.


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Wooly Rupert
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Why should Khelben even try to explain himself to someone whose first reaction is to go way, way overboard? What purpose would it serve to try to explain something to someone that's very clearly already made up their mind?

Remember, Khelben was one of the founding members of the Harpers. He knew the Code.

He also knew, though, that organizations aren't always as quick to react as they need to be, and that when there are many different people calling the shots, that sometimes very bad decisions get made.

I believe Khelben was still working towards the same goals as the rest of the Harpers -- he just had a different view of how to reach those goals, one that he knew would never fly with reactionary types like Bran. And as an immortal who'd already seen centuries pass, Khelben knew how to take a much longer view than what Bran or most others could take. The fact that the gods that blessed the Harpers supported Khelben's group backs up the fact that Khelben was still working for the same goals. And sure, you can point to individual deities allowing a schism -- but we're talking about multiple deities here. There's no way that every single one of them is blind to what's going on.

The biggest failing, here, is Bran's: He let his personal animosity for Khelben override his judgment. He forgot that Khelben was one of the founders of the group and had been advancing Harper goals for literally centuries. Had Bran maintained his wits, and calmly and reasonably approached Khelben, the Harper Schism wouldn't have happened, I think.

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Learned Scribe TheIriaeban,

You are quite welcome! It is fantastic having these amazing discussions/debates, etc.

Best regards,




quote:
Originally posted by TheIriaeban

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I think if someone was using that spell as a weapon, they'd very quickly find themselves encountering some Chosen with Laeral's Crowning Touch prepared -- assuming they weren't simply blasted out of existence. This Power Word: Nerf spell violates everything Mystra stands for. She's going to come down hard on someone for using it -- so hard that the Shadow Weave would not be a viable option.

(And honestly, the Shadow Weave was one of the worst ideas to come out of 3E, as evidenced by the fact that the designers couldn't agree on its origin or use. It was a plot device about as elegantly deployed as a hand grenade)



Thank you, Wooly. I have been having a devil of a time trying to shoehorn the Shadow Weave into a 2e environment. Your comment made me realize I don't have to do that since is a 3e product and I can just use shadow magic instead.

And thanks cpthero2 for tossing a rez on the thread.


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Master Rupert,

I can certainly appreciate your point. It is the same one (as I have maintained my point from the original debate we had from back in 2018) you made from before. However, the fact still remains that if your assessment of Khelben Arunsun is true, it is a series of justifications based on an appeal to authority. There are, I believe, several very real, burning ethical questions that have to be addressed to see just how moral this organization is.

quote:
Why should Khelben even try to explain himself to someone whose first reaction is to go way, way overboard?


The reason that The Blackstaff should have explained himself is the same reason any person does so, regardless of whether or not they are a powerful person. They submit to the agreed upon rules, or the rules mean nothing. That is a pretty common principle that most people agree to and feel is reasonable in order to maintain a fair, sensible society. If a person is exempt from the rules/laws because they are powerful, that's called a despot. If he's a despot, then so be it, however, The Blackstaff is trying to have it both ways by saying he's "doing the right thing" but exempt from the rules because of that. That is his teleological nightmare at its roots. I also think there is an unnecessary focus, in this one specific situation, on only Bran in terms of his being found responsible. Remember, this was a trial oversaw by three people: Bran Skorlsun, Obslin Minstrelwish the Seneschal of Twilight Hall, and Belhuar Thantarth Master of Twilight Hall. Those three people were the Twilight Trio, and significant people in that organization. The Blackstaff agreed years before, as all other Harper's, to "police their own." Apparently he was too good to stick with those rules though even after he admitted his guilt.

As to your inference to "someone that's very clearly already made up their mind", that person (Bran) was one of three people administering the trial. The evidence was so overwhelming that The Blackstaff admitted to it all, but still felt he shouldn't be punished. Honestly, when someone admits guilt, you just move to sentencing, which they did, but The Blackstaff for all intents and purposes said, "Come and take it": argumentum ad baculum.

As to The Blackstaff being one of the founding member of the Harper's and that "He knew the Code", I agree. So, if he was a founding member, and not only knew the code, but helped write it and enforce it, did he feel justified to exempt himself from it? The answer is obvious: might equals right. He proved himself after all those years to be a true despot through his deeds, not his actions. The cherry on top is that he then effectively said, "Screw it", and doubled down with undead and crime lords as his co-workers and friends. I have to give him credit, he did triple down on going evil.

If any one of your statements solidified The Blackstaff being a despot, it is the following:

quote:
He also knew, though, that organizations aren't always as quick to react as they need to be, and that when there are many different people calling the shots, that sometimes very bad decisions get made.


In other words, since the situation demanded it due to too many people calling the shots he had to step in, beyond the scope of his given power, and assume the reigns of control? Sounds like a coup to me, and validated by his "lack of regret or remorse" after admitting guilt. What is also confounding to me about the idea that The Blackstaff had no choice here is the false dilemma created. Essentially, it has to be this or that.

quote:
I believe Khelben was still working towards the same goals as the rest of the Harpers


Based on what evidence? Going into business with a vampire and a syndicate crime lord? Stealing ancient artifacts that could level whole civilizations?

quote:
he just had a different view of how to reach those goals


I believe implying that giving Fzoul Chembryl the Scepter of the Sorcerer-Kings (an ancient Netherese artifact) was going to get everyone to the same goal is a bit far-fetched. What on Toril could giving that maniac Chembryl the artifact achieve to further the aims of the Harper's? Well, here is the list of things that went awry after Fzoul used the scepter:

  • Conjured a dark grey fog that stretched from Zhentil Keep to Starmantle and the Sunset Mountains to Tsurlagol. A second area of fog appeared between Mintar and Saradush
  • Xvimlar found strength within the fog
  • The Knights of the Black Gauntlet used this new-found strength to conquer Kzelter
  • All those who succumbed to the diseases caused by the Tyrantfog rose after the Tyrantfire as tyrantfog zombies.
  • A massive amount of power released by the ritual was fed to Iyachtu Xvim, however, and in thanks, Xvim resurrected Fzoul as his Chosen a day afterward.


quote:
one that he knew would never fly with reactionary types like Bran


This is essentially advocating for a policy that says it is easier to ask for forgiveness, than permission. That isn't working for the rule of law (in this case, the rule of law is the Code of the Harper's), but rather working for the rule of might equals right because in the end, that's what it came down too.

quote:
And as an immortal who'd already seen centuries pass, Khelben knew how to take a much longer view than what Bran or most others could take


That statement advocates for nothing more than puppet-mastery. The ruler behind the throne in other words. Since The Blackstaff is so amazingly wise, etc., his views will be right, so he gets a pass on anything, up to and including:

  • Larceny
  • Conspiracy
  • Corruption
  • Civil Unrest
  • Invasion
  • Murder & Attempted Murder
  • Aiding and Abetting Enemies
  • Ritually aiding the God of Hate
  • Creating undead armies under the control of said enemies


That list is about as bad as it gets, and The Blackstaff caused it, knowingly and willingly.

quote:
The fact that the gods that blessed the Harpers supported Khelben's group backs up the fact that Khelben was still working for the same goals


Just because the god's supported Khelben's group, doesn't make those god's actions any less evil. If someone or something materially supports someone doing top shelf bad crimes, they are culpable in those crimes just as much. I argue that the list of crimes above that The Blackstaff committed, were committed just as much by every single deity from the Dancing Place. Eldath, Mielikki, Lliira, and the rest.

quote:
And sure, you can point to individual deities allowing a schism -- but we're talking about multiple deities here


A point I am thankful you made, as per my most recent point directly above. Since they all offer divine blessings, they all agreed to it. If they all agreed to it, they all sanctioned/assented to the outcomes that they knew as gods were to come (see the felon of the year laundry list above).

Also, Bran became a Master Harper, which means he has the same divine blessings (per FOR4 Code of the Harpers), yet there is no indication that he has lost said blessings. I don't think this is necessarily the gods approving or disapproving of Bran either. This is a situation of what appears to be the gods not sticking to the principles they said they were advocating for during the Gathering of the Gods. Shocking, those deities are being a bunch of selfish, self-centered children, running amok with unchecked power, and lying about their "shared" principles when they showed up to the get drunk and possess your followers party in the naked druid grove.

quote:
The biggest failing, here, is Bran's: He let his personal animosity for Khelben override his judgment.


Let's look at the list and do a comparison:

Bran Skorlsun
  • Bran acts rashly
  • Bran goes on a witch hunt
  • Ignores evidence during trial
  • Acts like a jerk
  • Acts in a petty manner


Khelben "The Blackstaff" Arunsun
  • Steals an ancient Netherese artifact of epic power
  • Gives said epic power level artifact to one of his greatest enemies
  • Ends up committing a litany of horrific crimes as a consequence of giving said artifact to said enemy
  • Violates the Code, police your own, because he tells Bran there is nothing he can do about it
  • Moves on to lead an organization which includes vampires and syndicate crime lords


I think that speaks for itself right there.

quote:
He forgot that Khelben was one of the founders of the group and had been advancing Harper goals for literally centuries


It appears, and please correct me if I am wrong, that you are advocating for the principle that as long as you do a lot good for literally centuries, that leniency should be provided for the heinous crimes that Khelben caused? If so, where is that line drawn? Is there a policy that gets drawn up that awards proportional weight to 'x' deeds, and 'y' time in service, and when you kill, destroy, burn, etc., you just cash out on the accrued get out of jail free points and wash the slate clean?

I think Finder Wyvernspur would have liked to have been afforded such an opportunity. Sure, he didn't do a lot of good for literally centuries, but he certainly got to think on his much less horrid deeds for literally centuries (alright imprisoned in approximately 1090DR and released in 1358DR, so 268 years). Sentenced to three to be exact.

quote:
Had Bran maintained his wits, and calmly and reasonably approached Khelben, the Harper Schism wouldn't have happened, I think.


Redirecting the blame to someone calling out someone who broke the rule of law (Code of the Harper's) doesn't account for the Schism. That is a red herring. The Schism was caused by people, who got tribal, and took sides. It wasn't caused by Khelben, Bran, or anyone else individually. All of the people involved are individually responsible for their choices. The collected, individual, choices produced the Schism.

In closing, this is as I said before, a debate about values, ethics, morals, and principles. It really sounds like you are arguing for an acceptance of a consequentialist/utilitarian/teleological set of ethics for the Harper's. I think that is perfectly fine for story reasons, but I feel it is hard to argue those are moral when faced with ethical alternatives such as Kantianism, where we have deeds being judged by their intrinsic goodness without qualification. No justification. To be clear, that is one of many ethics that could be examined, but I find it difficult to argue for a constant state of justifying ones deeds with qualifications that when put to the light, look very dark indeed.
_______________________________

The irony here is that, I love the character Khelben Arunsun, as he is massively full of flaws. He was once a hero, and is now a villain. That makes for great story. I have no idea if authors intended for this level of ethical scrutiny to be applied to these character's, but I think it is fantastic that these characters and these Realms are so amazing that we can have this kind of debate over it. I mean, talk about fan love! :)

I very much appreciate your robust and dedicated approach to the debate so far, Mater Rupert, and look forward to your rebuttal!

Best regards,




quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Why should Khelben even try to explain himself to someone whose first reaction is to go way, way overboard? What purpose would it serve to try to explain something to someone that's very clearly already made up their mind?

Remember, Khelben was one of the founding members of the Harpers. He knew the Code.

He also knew, though, that organizations aren't always as quick to react as they need to be, and that when there are many different people calling the shots, that sometimes very bad decisions get made.

I believe Khelben was still working towards the same goals as the rest of the Harpers -- he just had a different view of how to reach those goals, one that he knew would never fly with reactionary types like Bran. And as an immortal who'd already seen centuries pass, Khelben knew how to take a much longer view than what Bran or most others could take. The fact that the gods that blessed the Harpers supported Khelben's group backs up the fact that Khelben was still working for the same goals. And sure, you can point to individual deities allowing a schism -- but we're talking about multiple deities here. There's no way that every single one of them is blind to what's going on.

The biggest failing, here, is Bran's: He let his personal animosity for Khelben override his judgment. He forgot that Khelben was one of the founders of the group and had been advancing Harper goals for literally centuries. Had Bran maintained his wits, and calmly and reasonably approached Khelben, the Harper Schism wouldn't have happened, I think.



Robert McDonell
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 13 Feb 2020 :  11:47:01  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The reason I believe Khelben was still working towards the same goals is because of his formation of the Moonstars, who shared the original goals of the Harpers -- he was acting to prevent a greater evil than anything Fzoul Chembryl could do.

It's like a doctor amputating a gangrenous limb: yes, it's killing a part of the patient -- but it's that or lose the entire patient.

As for not talking to the tribunal -- the mere fact there was a tribunal means he was prejudged. It shouldn't have gotten to that point. They went straight to "Khelben, explain your betrayal!" rather than "Hey, Khelben, I'm having some trouble understanding what's going on, here..." You're doing the same thing yourself by calling him a villain.

Working with a vampire and a crime lord is NOT going into business with them. Khelben recognized that just because someone is evil, it doesn't mean they're incapable of good acts, and that they can't be used against a larger evil. It's a common failing, in issues of alignment, to assume that someone evil is pure evil, 24/10, and also that there is no way good can come from evil.

As for stealing an artifact that could level a civilization... Not only was it not used that way, do you really think that Khelben himself would have no means of doing the same thing? Do you really think that was the only item of power he had access to? Also, do you really think that this artifact was the sole method for Xvim to get more powerful?

You're making the same mistake Bran did: you're looking only at the immediate result, and not considering that Khelben is looking years -- perhaps centuries! -- down the road. Like with my amputated wound example, sometimes a little bad now is the only way to prevent a lot of bad later. Khelben did one thing, and you're calling it a "litany of horrific crimes".

Rather than remain hyper-focused on this one act of Khelben's, look at everything else he's done -- including founding the Harpers, nearly dying in the defense of Myth Drannor, giving his life to undo destructive High Magic. Look at the entire picture of his life, not just one moment.

Also, if this one act makes Khelben a villain, then it makes everyone that supported him a villain -- including more than one Chosen, many Harpers, and even the gods themselves.

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 13 Feb 2020 14:29:09
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cpthero2
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Posted - 13 Feb 2020 :  23:20:22  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Good afternoon Master Rupert,

Thank you again as always for your rebuttal! Please find mine below as usual, with inserted quotes.
_________________

I wanted to begin by addressing the ongoing, and I feel fundamental issue, not being addressed: the specific detailing of ethical systems adopted by organizations identified in our debate, and the inherent conflicts between them, that ultimately provide separate moral codes. At the center of this debate is the desire to identify whether the Harper's, the Moonstars, and individuals within each organization are in fact acting morally. To determine that, we can as debaters overlay the argument with our own real world ethics and morals, or we can look to the greats who have come before us and live among us now, to adjudicate the ethics and morals of those groups and individuals. So, I am going to again lay that out below before going through your rebuttal by points made.

I am arguing that the Harper's and Moonstar's, vis-a-vis certain agents that align with The Blackstaff and his actions taken over the years, are people who subscribe to an ethic of consequentialism, and more specifically teleology. I also have argued points about utilitarianism and Kantianism, which I will offer an argument in favor of, as well as Deontology. Those ethics guide and inform their moral code (their normative morals as opposed to societies morals). Since my reiterated argument has always been centered around, and arguing from the point of ethics as well as morals associated with those ethical models, I am going to maintain that argumentative front, and detail those ethics in slightly more detail. Additionally, I am going to assess what I feel is an ethical model that would be more fruitful in keeping with the Code of the Harper's as outlined in FOR4 Code of the Harpers.
_________________

Consequentialism

This is an ethic that defines the consequences of one's conduct as being the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. This ethic is effectively non-prescriptive. That means the moral worth of an action is only determined by the possible outcome, not whether it adheres to laws or other system of governance. A real world example of this would be help someone across the United States Mexico border to help that person receive life saving medical treatment, even though helping someone do so violates U.S. law.

This defines the actions of The Blackstaff and his supporters. That is fine that that is their ethic, but that is what it is when he stole the Scepter of the Sorcerer-King. There is no deductive or inductive way to argue against that. It is simply a fact without dispute, based on the definition I have provided. There are endless sources of material on consequentialism as an ethic, that are easily accessed to verify the veracity of my proclamation.

While ethics are a standard that a group, organization, society, civilization utilize to define actions that are acceptable, there are normative morals that we each have on a personal level that at times conflict with said ethical model. We hear of these things daily, where someone civilly disobeyed to show their opposition to something, and got arrested, etc. That action taken is what is the very intersection of their normative moral code with the ethical model of society. In this case, the Code of the Harper's is an extremely loose, consequentialist ethical model that was, I argue, destroyed by Khelben's actions. Here is an excerpt of their ethical code, which colloquially utilizes morals and ethics interchangeably (a common practice for people when not knowing the difference):

quote:
The cumulative weight of the watchwords and habits listed here may seem to be a heavy, restrictive, limiting thing, but in practice, they're not. They represent a fairly simple approach to life, a way of doing things that rarely requires a Harper to engage in much inner (or verbal) moral debate; most Harpers argue or worry about tactics, not aims.
(FOR4 Code of the Harper's, p.11)

I want to point out, as a relevant side note, ethics are not mentioned one time in that entire book, and moral is only found once, in that excerpt just provided.

That being said, the Harper's are known to oppose bad/evil people, organizations, etc. There are plenty of anecdotal instances that can be taken from novels, accessories, etc. that demonstrate a vacuum based solution that seems reasonable in the moment, that the common person can get behind. However, there are actions taken by many such as Rundorl Moonsklan and Finder Wyvernspur, that tell us what kind of actions that the Harper's find to be unethical, and therefore, immoral. I provided a clear list of the identifiable and heinous crimes that Khelben committed as a consequence of his actions, not unrelated to them. But for his not having done what he did, people would not have been murdered, ancient artifact larceny would not have been committed, civil unrest would have occurred, and an entire city would not have been conquered, to name but a few of the outcomes his actions led too.

Again, as I have said, it is fine if that is their chosen ethic, and thus how they define their morals by taking such actions (in this case, specifically Khelben). What I argue in my detailing of a different ethic and thus morals, is that the ethic of Khelben, consequentialism caused undue harm, death, loss of property, and war like scenarios that didn't need to happen. In fact, as far as I am aware, the only reason ever given as to the theft and delivery of the scepter was so that Fzoul could kill the banelich. In otherwords, Khelben felt that that action was worth everything else that occurred afterwards as a consequence. However, I need to address the other consequentialist ethic, teleology, since I argued that before, and why this further defines Khelben's ethics, so that we can evaluate his moral code, and thus whether his actions were good or evil.

Teleology

Teleological ethics define the ends (consequences) of an action as the determinant of an act being good or evil. This is in exact opposition to the deontological and utilitarian models that argue for below. This ethical model defines actions taken as inherently good or evil themselves, regardless of the consequences, or end result. This is where we get the saying, "the end justifies the means." To be crystal clear here: this means that if a goal is morally desirous, any method of achieving it is acceptable. Now, that is in fact how some people pursue ends to solutions. However, this almost wholly contravenes what most people in modern times would consider to be a moral approach to solving problems. An example of this in real world history is sending in an entire Infantry division to get back a hostage from some terrorists or whatever. We know there will be an enormous loss of life, property, and civil unrest/disturbance to a civilization. It is better to send in a SOCOM unit to quickly, efficiently, and with great efficacy extricate said hostage while causing as little damage as possible. Someone as smart as Khelben should have known better with as old, wise, intelligent, and capable as he was. Yet, he chose a path that I define with ethical modeling was morally wrong/evil.

Now, let's look at an alternative ethical model that I argue is much more moral, specifically.

Deontological Approach

This ethic determines whether an act is good/right from examining the acts, through the lens of the rules and duties that the person doing the act sought to achieve. This is quite different from consequentialism, which determines good actions as being based on the consequences only, and not the act, or means, itself. It is even possible that within this ethic, an action could be considered good/right even if it produces a bad consequence as long as it follows the rules or moral laws. It is worth noting though: moral laws are often somewhat different between societal and normative codes. That is what is at the center of all this: analyzing Khelben's actions, through the lens of being good or evil, and what is the litmus test for that?


Kantianism

More specifically, within the deontological category is this ethic. This ethic argues that to act in a morally justified way, one must act from duty. It is also fundamental to acknowledge that it is not the consequences of acts that define them as good or bad, but rather the motives of the person who carries out the action. Essentially, to act in a morally right way one must act 100% from a duty perspective and that means the greatest good must be good in and of itself as well as without qualification.

So, to evaluate Khelben's actions, using a deontological and/or Kantian ethic, in order to determine whether Khelben's actions were moral according to this ethic or not, would look something like the following:

Khelben committed and admitted to, crimes of great significance in order to "prevent a greater evil than anything Fzoul Chembryl could do." [Master Rupert]

That means that Khelben articulated his belief, vis-a-vis his actions, that it was the consequences of his act that mattered the most, not what he had to do to make it happen. He did not care what it took to get it done, as long as it got done. Clearly, that is the case as it is fact, and he admitted to it during the trial. However, even by Khelben through his actions subscribing to such an ethic of consequentialism, he still ignored the consequences, selectively.

Sure, Khelben cared a great deal that he got the scepter to Fzoul so that actions would unfold as they did. However, he did not care about the consequences to others.

This really is the height of hypocrisy. I have proven, irrefutably, that Khelben is a consequentialist by detailing it, and providing definitions as well as how to access said information to verify the validity of my assertions. That is beyond valid, sound, refutation. I also proved that there are alternative ethical and moral systems by which to evaluate behaviors by people and organizations. Knowing that there are other ways to behave, yet knowing that admittedly Khelben continued down the path that he did, proves he chose a moral code that some would consider to be evil, or good.

What a person, any person does not get to do, at least logically/validly/with soundness, is redefine millennia of the greatest minds of philosophy, and specifically ethics, because they do not choose to engage with or understand them. The tree still makes noise in the forest even if there is no one there to hear it. I will acknowledge and accept an admittedly illogical, invalid, unsound argument in its form, but will most certainly not pay any heed to it. I choose the academic, well reasoned, and time tested approaches of those with greater minds than myself, than the modernly lazy interpolation of the lay approach to ethical/moral solutions.

So, the outcome here is, I can completely accept that you feel, Master Rupert, that Khelben's actions were moral, within the confines of the ethic that Khelben uses to define said morals.

However, I choose to side with the great minds of philosophy that dispute such a moral code is just, or desirable.

I feel it fair though to challenge those greats such as Plato, Socrates, Kant, Anscombe (1958), Mill, and many, many more.

Now, let's move to your points, point by point, below! :)
_________________

quote:
The reason I believe Khelben was still working towards the same goals is because of his formation of the Moonstars, who shared the original goals of the Harpers



Since you argue these two organizations are working towards the same goals, let's provide those goals here in plain view:

Harper's

quote:
The Harpers were a semi-secret organization dedicated to promoting good, preserving history (including art and music of old) and maintaining a balance between civilization and nature by keeping kingdoms small and the destruction of animal and plant life to a minimum. They considered the elven empire of Myth Drannor shortly before its fall to be the pinnacle of civilized history and strove to recreate the world in that image. (FOR4, Code of the Harpers, p.4, 1993)


Moonstar's

quote:
The Moonstars sought to preserve life and knowledge "...along with the aim of unifying the humans and other races (especially elves) against the forces of evil." They had a similar outlook to the Harpers, but dedicated themselves to Mystra, Oghma, and Sehanine Moonbow. Their leader, Khelben, was very much in tune with the beliefs and motivations of the Harpers, but preferred to keep tighter control of the agents under his control. He felt that he sacrificed much for the Harpers during his time in their service and was unfairly treated by the Twilight Trio. (Cloak & Dagger, p.25-6, 2000 & https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Moonstars)


Principles from Each Organization

Harper's
  • Promote good
  • Preserve History including art and music of old]
  • Maintain Balance between civilization and nature
  • Keep Kingdoms small
  • Keep destruction of animal and plant life to a minimum


Moonstar's
  • Preserve Life and Knowledge
  • Unify the Humans and other races (especially Elves) against the forces of evil


Commonly shared principles:
[list]
  • Promote Good and Fight Evil: check
  • Preservation of history in light of Oghma being maintained in both regimes: check


  • *A noteworthy inclusion: stipulating that Khelben "was very much in tune with the beliefs and motivations of the Harper's" is conjecture. Actions speak louder than words, and Khelben's actions speak volumes as articulated above, and below.

    By looking at the identified goals laid out by organization, the Moonstar's share 40% of the goals of the Harper's. I don't consider that "working towards the same goals." That's having 40% of your goals coinciding, not being on the same page, or in "tune."
    _________________

    quote:
    he was acting to prevent a greater evil than anything Fzoul Chembryl could do.


    What greater evil? What was a greater evil than the list of heinous crimes I laid out in the last rebuttal? If anything, Khelben caused even more harm by his actions in the ways I already articulated herein as well as in the last rebuttal of mine. I'll await your response to what the "greater evil" was, but absent something compelling, this is a weak point in defense of Khelben's actions. Certainly consequentialist in nature.
    _________________

    quote:
    It's like a doctor amputating a gangrenous limb: yes, it's killing a part of the patient -- but it's that or lose the entire patient.


    What was Khelben doing that equates with "amputating a gangrenous limb" but saving the patient? What massive good did he do by his actions, that overshadows the consequences of his actions? I ask those questions with the understanding that his actions were still teleological in nature, and thereby evil in keeping with given and affirmative evidence within the annuls of philosophy/ethics. It would be good to see it explained though.
    _________________

    quote:
    As for not talking to the tribunal -- the mere fact there was a tribunal means he was prejudged./quote]

    This is one of the most shocking comments I've heard. The fact that a court (agreed upon by Khelben, as it was utilized against Finder in approximately 1090DR while Khelben was involved) convenes and confronts the accused, he is already pre-judged? So, if I get a DUI and the prosecutor's charge me with a crime and I go to court, I am already pre-judged? It would appear, and correct me if I am wrong.... please.... that you are advocating for anarchy. No one gets confronted, because you are pre-judging them? That is simply confounding to me, and I believe likely anyone that has ever heard of a western form of jurisprudence. It doesn't change it in your mind's eye, I admit; however, it belies the personal experiences and reality of most people I argue.
    _________________

    quote:
    They went straight to "Khelben, explain your betrayal!" rather than "Hey, Khelben, I'm having some trouble understanding what's going on, here..."


    You would be correct. That is because Bran acted like any prosecutor would, he gathered evidence, consulted with the other leaders of the organization with the exception of the to be soon accused. When it was felt that the evidence was sufficient, they effectively charged him. I mean this with no sarcasm at all: that is literally how the justice system works in western democracies. I suppose you could be advocating in a round about way for a change to that form of system, but it doesn't change how it was clearly articulated in the novels. It was a western form of justice being used as an overlay in my reading of it.
    _________________

    quote:
    You're doing the same thing yourself by calling him a villain.


    Indeed I am. I worked as a criminal investigator for a while back in the day (about 15 years ago), and that is exactly the situation. Said person was innocent until proven guilty, but that doesn't mean that law enforcement doesn't build a case of guilt against the person. That is exactly what the Twilight Trio did, then they moved on to the trial.
    _________________

    quote:
    Working with a vampire and a crime lord is NOT going into business with them.


    I can excuse away the fact that the vampire was just a blood warrior before and therefore not a "business person", but the crime lord? Really? What do you expect that person to be doing: serving up coffee and editing newspapers? That person's business, was the black market world of business. That is just beyond incredulous to argue anything other than Khelben was absolutely going into business with that person, one way or another.
    _________________

    quote:
    Khelben recognized that just because someone is evil, it doesn't mean they're incapable of good acts, and that they can't be used against a larger evil.


    I believe the adage of "You are who you keep company with" is a pretty good one. Sure, he has good and bad in the organization, but there is a reason why generally speaking law enforcement agencies don't keep bad people in them, once they are known to be bad (on principle that is). Sure, you may get bad people in there, who get released, but I've never seen the Washington State Patrol advertise for 'evil people seeking redemption with good pay and benefits, see the recruiter inside!', sign.

    I also never said he, or all of his companions/co-workers were pure evil. Evil does have a range of 'badness' to it, I agree. Evil is still evil though, and he knowingly took them onboard.
    _________________

    quote:
    As for stealing an artifact that could level a civilization... Not only was it not used that way, do you really think that Khelben himself would have no means of doing the same thing?


    'I steal a nuke to study it. I promise I wasn't going to do anything else with it.', a sensible analogy, is a terrible....excuse. It is a justification in keeping with the consequentialist and immoral code I argued against earlier.
    _________________

    quote:
    Do you really think that was the only item of power he had access to?


    Because someone else has other badness, it excuses the other badness? I believe that is the two wrongs don't equal a right argument right there.
    _________________

    quote:
    Also, do you really think that this artifact was the sole method for Xvim to get more powerful?


    Fatalism as a means to justify the giving of a weapon of extraordinary power to a god of hate? I think Nietzsche would be impressed right now!
    _________________

    quote:
    you're looking only at the immediate result, and not considering that Khelben is looking years -- perhaps centuries! -- down the road./quote]

    You would be so very correct. That's because I value life in the meanwhile, knowing that things can be changed, or at least people have the option for that, instead of having a tyrannical despot choose for me.
    _________________

    quote:
    Khelben did one thing, and you're calling it a "litany of horrific crimes".


    Khelben did "one thing" that led to a litany of crimes. Huge difference, and worth ensuring it is clear on.
    _________________

    quote:
    Rather than remain hyper-focused on this one act of Khelben's, look at everything else he's done -- including founding the Harpers, nearly dying in the defense of Myth Drannor, giving his life to undo destructive High Magic. Look at the entire picture of his life, not just one moment.


    I don't make excuses for bad behavior through justifying that bad behavior. I call it out for what it is, and try my best to hold those evil doers of such bad behavior to account.
    _________________

    [quote]Also, if this one act makes Khelben a villain, then it makes everyone that supported him a villain -- including more than one Chosen, many Harpers, and even the gods themselves.


    I agree with your point here. If there are those, to include gods, who cavorted with Khelben while he undertook these actions, and in any way provided aid and/or comfort to him while doing so, I would argue that they are to some extent or another, evil. Again, not necessarily pure evil, but some degree of evil, in light of the outcomes that Khelben caused.
    _________________

    As always Master Rupert, I greatly appreciate your rebuttal, and look forward to your response! Thank you the amazing and engaging debate! :)

    Best regards,




    [quote]Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

    The reason I believe Khelben was still working towards the same goals is because of his formation of the Moonstars, who shared the original goals of the Harpers -- he was acting to prevent a greater evil than anything Fzoul Chembryl could do.

    It's like a doctor amputating a gangrenous limb: yes, it's killing a part of the patient -- but it's that or lose the entire patient.

    As for not talking to the tribunal -- the mere fact there was a tribunal means he was prejudged. It shouldn't have gotten to that point. They went straight to "Khelben, explain your betrayal!" rather than "Hey, Khelben, I'm having some trouble understanding what's going on, here..." You're doing the same thing yourself by calling him a villain.

    Working with a vampire and a crime lord is NOT going into business with them. Khelben recognized that just because someone is evil, it doesn't mean they're incapable of good acts, and that they can't be used against a larger evil. It's a common failing, in issues of alignment, to assume that someone evil is pure evil, 24/10, and also that there is no way good can come from evil.

    As for stealing an artifact that could level a civilization... Not only was it not used that way, do you really think that Khelben himself would have no means of doing the same thing? Do you really think that was the only item of power he had access to? Also, do you really think that this artifact was the sole method for Xvim to get more powerful?

    You're making the same mistake Bran did: you're looking only at the immediate result, and not considering that Khelben is looking years -- perhaps centuries! -- down the road. Like with my amputated wound example, sometimes a little bad now is the only way to prevent a lot of bad later. Khelben did one thing, and you're calling it a "litany of horrific crimes".

    Rather than remain hyper-focused on this one act of Khelben's, look at everything else he's done -- including founding the Harpers, nearly dying in the defense of Myth Drannor, giving his life to undo destructive High Magic. Look at the entire picture of his life, not just one moment.

    Also, if this one act makes Khelben a villain, then it makes everyone that supported him a villain -- including more than one Chosen, many Harpers, and even the gods themselves.


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    Wooly Rupert
    Master of Mischief
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    Posted - 14 Feb 2020 :  02:17:03  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
    Despite the list of goals for the Harpers, they are far more about history and preserving good than anything else. Thus, I maintain that the two groups share common goals.

    As for the great evil that Khelben was working against, we don't know what it was -- and that's likely because his actions either delayed or entirely stopped the threat. It's also possible that the threat is still far in the future, but Khelben was laying all the necessary groundwork for stopping it.

    And your assertion that Khelben did not care about the consequences is without any support at all. Khelben was acting for the greater good -- the consequences were very clear in his mind: act now and pay the smaller price, or fail to act and pay the larger price.

    This is why I used the analogy of the gangrenous limb: no one wants to lose a limb, and it will cause suffering -- but the person is still alive. Someone who dies because that gangrenous limb wasn't removed is going to suffer more, until they die, and then their death will cause suffering for others.

    And yes, calling a tribunal did mean he was prejudged: they were called because they were convinced he'd committed a crime. It's in the text: "Storm becomes furious and joins Bran and Belhuar in outrage and prematurely demands punishment for the Blackstaff." and "Khelben and Laeral arrive for the tribunal, which lasts for six hours as Belhuar reads out the charges and presents Bran and his accusations (and a few other Harpers with axes to grind) to the convened Master Harpers."

    That is not the kind of gathering where someone can defend themselves. That gathering was not a trial; a trial would have neutral arbiters and wouldn't be a collective bitch session.

    Note also this: "Curiously, when people look around, naught remains of Elminster but some green sparkles and smoke. In his place is the shade of Syluné, glaring angrily at Bran Skorlsun. She gestures, and his Harper pin cracks and falls into three pieces, and she disappears before the pieces hit the floor."

    Elminster was noted as being "impatient for the proceedings to be over with." and it said he was actively avoiding the accusers. He also calmed Storm down.

    So we have a Chosen of Mystra taking an action, supported by the Chosen of Mystra he's married to, not being opposed by at least four other Chosen of Mystra (Dove, Elminster, Alustriel, and Storm, once she'd spoken to El), and with a fifth Chosen of Mystra clearly showing her support by sundering the Harper pin of the lead accuser.

    Clearly, neither the Chosen of Mystra, nor Mystra herself, considered Khelben to have committed the heinous crimes you accuse him of.

    You refer in your rebuttal to the Washington State Patrol not hiring bad guys... But it's a known fact that police organizations do utilize criminal informants, and those informants often get reduced punishments or entirely let off the hook if they help bring down more prominent and more consequential criminals. A gang member who helps police take down the gang leader, for example, will likely get the lightest possible sentence.

    So does that make all of these police organizations bad guys?

    No, it does not. Because those police are doing the same thing Khelben is: not worrying about the lesser crimes when they can stop the greater ones. They're looking at the larger picture.

    Khelben didn't cause Fzoul to do a single thing. Fzoul was already the willing servant of an evil power. He was going to work towards the benefit of that evil power regardless of what Khelben did; he'd already spent years doing so. Khelben's actions did, however, limit Fzoul's actions to a smaller area -- thus ensuring less people were affected.

    If you want to say that Khelben was the cause of everything Fzoul did, then that means Khelben is responsible for the destruction of a dangerous artifact and a dangerous entity -- the Scepter was sundered into pieces scattered across the planes, and a banelich was destroyed in the process. And the Scepter could even block a deity from all influence on the entire planet. If everything Fzoul did was entirely Khelben's fault, then Khelben removed a threat to the gods themselves and destroyed part of a fallen and dangerous deity. Heinous crimes, indeed.

    We don't know exactly what Khelben was working against, or why he chose the methods he did. It is clear from looking at everything else Khelben did, though, that he was not a villain. I'll not judge anyone on a single questionable action when everything else we know about them shows quite clearly that they were always working against greater evils. One small grey spot on an otherwise white canvas does not make the entire canvas black.

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    cpthero2
    Master of Realmslore

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    Posted - 14 Feb 2020 :  10:18:27  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
    Good evening Master Rupert,

    I hope this rebuttal finds you well! :)

    quote:
    Despite the list of goals for the Harpers, they are far more about history and preserving good than anything else. Thus, I maintain that the two groups share common goals.


    I've provided quantifiable analysis confirming my point that the two organizations do not share that much in common. Your opinion is predicated on a vague notion related to past performance, not current performance. You're entitled to your opinion, but with a verified 40% of goal sharing, your belief that the two share much in common regarding their goals leaves much to be desired.
    ____________

    quote:
    As for the great evil that Khelben was working against, we don't know what it was -- and that's likely because his actions either delayed or entirely stopped the threat.


    I reflect back on my point from earlier:

    quote:
    quote:
    he was acting to prevent a greater evil than anything Fzoul Chembryl could do. [Master Wooly Rupert, inserted]


    What greater evil? What was a greater evil than the list of heinous crimes I laid out in the last rebuttal? If anything, Khelben caused even more harm by his actions in the ways I already articulated herein as well as in the last rebuttal of mine. I'll await your response to what the "greater evil" was, but absent something compelling, this is a weak point in defense of Khelben's actions. Certainly consequentialist in nature.


    The notion that Khelben was "acting to prevent a greater evil" is unproven. You've made claims that are completely unsubstantiated by any evidence and in the end are nothing more than an assumption. This point fails on those merits.

    Additionally, the consistent interpolation of consequences into the evaluation of Khelben's behavior firmly establishes, at least from your argument, and the evidence I've provided, his subscribing to consequentialist ethic. An ethic that focuses on the outcomes, not how one gets there, is morally dubious if one is to suggest that people's lives matter in the moment, and that collateral damage should not be an after thought.
    ____________

    quote:
    It's also possible that the threat is still far in the future, but Khelben was laying all the necessary groundwork for stopping it.


    Anything is possible. Those two premises feed into one another endlessly as a fallaciously circular argument.
    ____________

    quote:
    And your assertion that Khelben did not care about the consequences is without any support at all.


    That is incorrect. The support is the action that Khelben took: he gave one of the most powerful artifacts of ancient Netherese times to one of Fzoul Chembryl, one of the most reviled, evil and direct foes of the Harper's. Fzoul, his religion, and the organization he works for is a world-wide sponsor of terror, murder, and more. One cannot be overly concerned about consequences when such a powerful weapon is given intentionally to one of the most violent people on the planet, knowing that he would purposely seek out destruction and strife as his faith pushes. A shocking turn of events when.... you guessed it.... Fzoul did in fact go and cause considerable death, destruction of property, undead to rise, a city to be sacked, and more, as a consequence of the scepter being given to him.

    It is 100% irrefutable that the outcomes directly attributed to the scepter being used to kill the banelich, etc. would not have occurred if that artifact were not in his possession. A --> B --> C: Khelben steals the artifact, gives it to Fzoul, horrible deeds occur. Khelben was the catalyst for that chain of events. He aided and abetted Fzoul.

    Again, he wasn't worried about the means, just that he got to the end, which is yet another ironic problem in and of itself. What good came of that? Ah, that's right....some greater evil you proclaimed was thwarted! What was that greater evil again? That's right, by your own admission, nothing. You can provide all of the conjecture you like, and even throw in red herrings like, "But's he did good stuff all those times", but at the end of the day nothing will change this fact: the greater evil was pure, 100%, unadulterated guess work.

    It's not that it is a bad argument you provided in this specific case; rather, it is a complete and total lack of an argument. Let me be clear though: you've argued points, they just haven't been supported by anything other than pathos.

    #951; #955;#959;#947;#953;#954;#942; #949;#943;#957;#945;#953; #964;#959; #952;#973;#956;#945;
    ____________

    quote:
    Khelben was acting for the greater good -- the consequences were very clear in his mind


    Again, you make my point that (by statements evidencing, not by direct admission) Khelben is a consequentialist. You do stay focused on that. Consequentialists are focused on the consequence, not the means. Those pesky people and things getting in the way. As long as I get to my destination point, the rest is just in the way.

    See the Doctrine of Double Effect for further explanation as to why Khelben is morally and ethically wrong. Joseph Mangan perfectly illustrates by expanding upon Thomas Acquinas' works on the Double Effect, why the ends do not justify the means, which you have clearly articulated Khelben does.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/double-effect/

    Khelben was acting for the greater good? No one knows what evil he was even fighting.

    Here are the facts: Khelben stole something (check: thief), gave it to a world wide murdering terrorist (check: aiding the enemy), who in turn injured countless people and property when said terrorist went off the rez (check: psychopath does psychotic things).

    As far as we know, Khelben was angry that his wife was cheating on him, got drunk, flew to Fzoul and said burn it all down man, "but if anyone asks, it's for some wizardly cool things that I divined [wink, wink]." My point is that conjecture doesn't do anything but throw out random ideas that are meaningless.

    Case closed right here, but I will finish.
    ____________

    quote:
    act now and pay the smaller price, or fail to act and pay the larger price


    This literally is bereft of any sense: a) no one can even evidence that any evil was afoot, other than Fzoul himself who was given the strategic nuke scepter: it is only assumed, b) no one knows of any price, large, or even small. What was going to die, get destroyed, or whatever else? What was saved by this epic failure of one of the most powerful wizards of the world?

    The stunning lack of evidence to support the claim that Khelben the Felon was doing good things is simply mind boggling. He wasn't doing good, because he has nothing to show for it. Well, except all of the death, city sacking, and undead rising. So, I guess Szass Tam is down?

    To accept that Khelben should just be trusted that what he was doing was paying a smaller price to avoid a larger price lacks credibility as well as any evidence.
    ____________

    quote:
    This is why I used the analogy of the gangrenous limb: no one wants to lose a limb, and it will cause suffering -- but the person is still alive. Someone who dies because that gangrenous limb wasn't removed is going to suffer more, until they die, and then their death will cause suffering for others.


    See above. This analogy makes no sense where there was no patient, no one was asserting something was about to happen, or for that matter nothing was aware to anyone, other than Khelben, who admitted his guilt.

    I'd make sure that after the gangrenous limb is taken care of, that a plastic surgeon come in to fix the face of your argument, Master Rupert. This is getting uglier by the minute. ;)
    ____________

    quote:
    And yes, calling a tribunal did mean he was prejudged


    A tribunal is defined as a "court of justice." Perhaps you are unfamiliar with how prosecutions work (and if so, I think that is honestly a good thing), but a prosecutor builds a case after investigators bring what they feel meets the standards of their legal system, to get approval to move forward. Once the prosecutor deems the evidence to meet said criteria, they confront the then accused, usually by arresting them and bringing them before the judging authority. In the real world, that is a judge. In the Harper's case, they used senior/master Harper's in a committee, to communally come to a decision as to whether proceed or not.

    You may not personally believe in that form of justice system that is used in..........almost all western nations, but one can tell when reading the novels and accessories, that the author(s) were intentionally or unintentionally (a passing familiarity perhaps?) using a western judicial system as the framework. If you don't feel that to be a fair system, argue against the process and argue against the jurisprudence, but to offer an opinion without any legal analysis in either criticisms of the jurisprudence or process is pointless. It is nothing more than providing an uninformed opinion.
    ____________

    quote:
    That gathering was not a trial; a trial would have neutral arbiters and wouldn't be a collective bitch session.


    If you are going to articulate that a trial would have "neutral" arbiters, and that it was nothing more than a gathering and not a trial, you must clearly have an idea and/or experience on how process, procedure, and what kind of jurisprudence would best be facilitated.

    The floor is yours Master Rupert: please, do layout the details of your legal system challenge, in detail so we can figure out how you would determine fair proceedings.

    One quick request, when you do provide that legal system that I requested, could you include an appellate court for Finder to appeal too? I think he got a bit of a harsh sentence in light of everything we're talking about here. Seemed a little......tough.
    ____________

    quote:
    It's in the text: "Storm becomes furious and joins Bran and Belhuar in outrage and prematurely demands punishment for the Blackstaff." and "Khelben and Laeral arrive for the tribunal, which lasts for six hours as Belhuar reads out the charges and presents Bran and his accusations (and a few other Harpers with axes to grind) to the convened Master Harpers."


    Sounds like Storm may have had an axe to grind. What she a judge? Nope. Irrelevant.
    ____________

    quote:
    Note also this: "Curiously, when people look around, naught remains of Elminster but some green sparkles and smoke. In his place is the shade of Syluné, glaring angrily at Bran Skorlsun. She gestures, and his Harper pin cracks and falls into three pieces, and she disappears before the pieces hit the floor."


    I agree that is definitely interesting writing. It in no way changes the fact that that is superfluous. It has no bearing on the guilt or innocence of Khelben (even though he admitted his guilt). Sylune being angry and breaking his pin is a gesture of frustration I admit.

    Elminster and Sylune were also not judges, so again, their outlook and opinions were irrelevant in that situation.
    ____________

    quote:
    Elminster was noted as being "impatient for the proceedings to be over with." and it said he was actively avoiding the accusers. He also calmed Storm down.


    Elminster being impatient for the proceedings to be over with is irrelevant. As to Elminster actively avoiding the accusers, that has no bearing on anything. Any implication is just conjecture, and irrelevant unless it can be substantiated somehow.
    ____________

    quote:
    So we have a Chosen of Mystra taking an action, supported by the Chosen of Mystra he's married to, not being opposed by at least four other Chosen of Mystra (Dove, Elminster, Alustriel, and Storm, once she'd spoken to El), and with a fifth Chosen of Mystra clearly showing her support by sundering the Harper pin of the lead accuser.


    Yeah, that sounds about right: again, it has no bearing on anything at all. Just because they have an opinion about the matter, doesn't make them the judge. It sounds like those Chosen had enough respect for the rule of law of the Harper's to stand by and let justice proceed, because that is what happened.

    The implication you appear to be making is that because these five Chosen of Mystra were all in support of Khelben, that they should have some weight in the proceedings. If that is the case, then the Harper's should just change their internal organization laws. Innuendo as to the Chosen needing to have some sort of say in the matter, but, unofficially is antithetical to a form of jurisprudence that is predicated on openness and transparency.

    This is a moot point, in its entirety.
    ____________

    quote:
    Clearly, neither the Chosen of Mystra, nor Mystra herself, considered Khelben to have committed the heinous crimes you accuse him of.


    It would appear that is the case. Does that matter? Were they the judges? Nope, they sure were not. Using the implied value of the Chosen and Mystra as valuable in the trial is misdirection. There were three people who's vote matter: The Twilight Trio. No one else was in charge of that, so in this case, the Chosen and Mystra herself are irrelevant.
    ____________

    quote:
    You refer in your rebuttal to the Washington State Patrol not hiring bad guys... But it's a known fact that police organizations do utilize criminal informants, and those informants often get reduced punishments or entirely let off the hook if they help bring down more prominent and more consequential criminals. A gang member who helps police take down the gang leader, for example, will likely get the lightest possible sentence.


    I am of the mind that this point you made is, while still failing in its inductive reasoning and value, the best one you made.

    The problem with this point you made, while the example is somewhat good but misleading, is that those informants had a choice. They were met with, given all of the information ahead of time, told the risks, rewards, etc. When Khelben the Felon let loose from the crazy train, he just went about his business on his own. What about the people of Kzelter when their city was sacked and occupied, to name but a few of the issues that came about as a result of Khelben handing over the scepter to Fzoul? Informants are informed and have options, ignorant people of the storm to come at the hands of a world-wide terrorist, helped by Khelben is not giving people the freedom to choose. It's choosing for them. That is immoral if one believes in freedom at least.

    There is also nothing demonstrating how conflating CI's with the actions of The Blackstaff are even commensurate with one another. Blackstaff was at the top of the organizational chart, in prestige, rank, and power. He was informed of everything, effectively. CI's are in a very vulnerable position where their compliance means a personal gain out of a tough spot. You are articulated a belief that the Blackstaff was doing it all to fight a greater evil, but admitted there was no greater evil that you could identify beyond conjecture. The CI point fails on its merit in opposition of mine.
    ____________

    quote:
    So does that make all of these police organizations bad guys? No, it does not. Because those police are doing the same thing Khelben is: not worrying about the lesser crimes when they can stop the greater ones. They're looking at the larger picture.


    That is not how it goes. Law Enforcement Agencies have departments that portion out crimes and investigate them accordingly. Lesser crimes are just as important as greater ones as they happen in larger numbers more often than not, and they are not mutually exclusive from other crimes. Hence, attacking lower level crime has powerful effects upon the volume of greater/more serious crimes.

    Also, police officers don't find a local drug king pin, bring him powerful weapons and then leave, hoping it all works out in the end.
    ____________

    quote:
    Khelben didn't cause Fzoul to do a single thing.


    I agree insomuch if included in that point is the acknowledgment that giving one, if not thee, most powerful leader of a terrorist organization in the world, an apocalyptically powerful weapon is full well knowing that it is going to be used in evil ways. Sure enough, and I know we're all shocked here with this...... Fzoul went crazy and did what we all knew he would. The outcomes were not justified to fight the imaginary greater evil you have proclaimed he was allegedly fighting.
    ____________

    quote:
    Fzoul was already the willing servant of an evil power. He was going to work towards the benefit of that evil power regardless of what Khelben did; he'd already spent years doing so.


    Oh, well I'm certain that will be a great relief to all of the people that suffered even more after Khelben gave Fzoul that artifact. Maybe the Temples of Waukeen can set up a GoFundMe for some counseling sessions with some clergy of Eldath and Ilmater to help them through their unnecessary and completely preventable crises. I mean, after all, Khelben was doing the right thing afterall...I'm sure they will sleep better knowing that.
    ____________

    quote:
    Khelben's actions did, however, limit Fzoul's actions to a smaller area -- thus ensuring less people were affected.

    Ummm.......if by limit Fzoul's actions to a smaller area, you mean 748,006 square miles, or in other words, 864 miles to a side, then yes, I suppose that is a smaller area. I have to be honest, I find that to be an enormous area.

    I used the Atlas program to calculate the areas that the Tyrant Fog affected in Mirtul of 1370, and that is the approximation.

    I'd have to say if that is Khelben's fine work minimizing Fzoul's area of affect, he needs to get another day job.
    ____________

    quote:
    If you want to say that Khelben was the cause of everything Fzoul did, then that means Khelben is responsible for the destruction of a dangerous artifact and a dangerous entity -- the Scepter was sundered into pieces scattered across the planes, and a banelich was destroyed in the process. And the Scepter could even block a deity from all influence on the entire planet. If everything Fzoul did was entirely Khelben's fault, then Khelben removed a threat to the gods themselves and destroyed part of a fallen and dangerous deity. Heinous crimes, indeed.


    Hey, I cannot argue that: legitimately. He is as well responsible in helping to destroy that dangerous artifact and a dangerous entity and more than just one banelich mind you. Credit where credit is due. Khelben is guilty as charged and self-admitted, but that does not deprive him of the good that came from his actions.

    Unfortunately, it also doesn't deny that his teleological approach to things caused massive damage in the ways outlined in my previous post. Yeah, he did manage to pull off some positives from this. However, the ends should not justify the means. There are too many real world examples where people in places of extraordinary power have claimed righteous actions be taken to benefit everyone in the end, for everyone to find out later that the means to achieve such greatness were atrocities of unparalleled measure.

    Khelben is not a good man. His ethics facilitate a defined set of morals that are ambiguous at best, and murderous at worst. A man of such unquestionable power, authority, and access should be held to a higher standard by his peers and the world's power bases at large if need be.
    _____________

    quote:
    We don't know exactly what Khelben was working against


    An oft repeated point by your Master Rupert, that demonstrates that Khelben is unaccountable, dangerous, and lone-wolf. He seemingly makes up things to justify his actions, as no greater evil supported his larcenous removal of that scepter in the first place.
    _____________

    quote:
    It is clear from looking at everything else Khelben did, though, that he was not a villain.


    If you subscribe to a teleological ethic, and your morals are molded and driven by that ethic, then I can see how you would honestly come to that conclusion.

    I on the other hand find that a teleological ethic is one that leads to abuse, overreach, a lack of accountability, and suffering of those caught in the middle with little to no respect to the general masses. The same masses that Khelben purported he worked to help.

    The ends do not justify the means.
    _____________

    I conclude by saying that first and foremost, I greatly respect your enthusiasm, knowledge, and continued desire to continue this amazing debate. Thank you Master Rupert! That being said, I have achieved the following:

    • Confirmed that Master Rupert's description and reasons behind The Blackstaff's decisions, is that he is an consequentialist in his ethics
    • The Blackstaff's moral code is driven by the teleological belief that the ends justify the means
    • That The Blackstaff, nor anyone else, had any evidence of a greater evil that was integral to Master Rupert's claim as to why The Blackstaff took the actions that he did
    • The Blackstaff committed a laundry list of seriously bad crimes
    • The Blackstaff admitted his guilt, and I quote: "Guilty as charged", at the conclusion of his trial
    • Brought significant suffering to an area of Faerun in an approximate size of 748,006 square miles.
    • He resigned from the Harper's without anyone in the Harper's being able to hold him to account due to his power: he holds himself above the law that he subscribed to


    I feel I've hit every point that I feel I am capable of making. I hope other scholars at the Keep find this debate informative, interesting, lively, and in the spirit of the love that both Master Rupert and I have for the Realms. :)

    Best regards to all,





    [quote]Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

    Despite the list of goals for the Harpers, they are far more about history and preserving good than anything else. Thus, I maintain that the two groups share common goals.

    As for the great evil that Khelben was working against, we don't know what it was -- and that's likely because his actions either delayed or entirely stopped the threat. It's also possible that the threat is still far in the future, but Khelben was laying all the necessary groundwork for stopping it.

    And your assertion that Khelben did not care about the consequences is without any support at all. Khelben was acting for the greater good -- the consequences were very clear in his mind: act now and pay the smaller price, or fail to act and pay the larger price.

    This is why I used the analogy of the gangrenous limb: no one wants to lose a limb, and it will cause suffering -- but the person is still alive. Someone who dies because that gangrenous limb wasn't removed is going to suffer more, until they die, and then their death will cause suffering for others.

    And yes, calling a tribunal did mean he was prejudged: they were called because they were convinced he'd committed a crime. It's in the text: "Storm becomes furious and joins Bran and Belhuar in outrage and prematurely demands punishment for the Blackstaff." and "Khelben and Laeral arrive for the tribunal, which lasts for six hours as Belhuar reads out the charges and presents Bran and his accusations (and a few other Harpers with axes to grind) to the convened Master Harpers."

    That is not the kind of gathering where someone can defend themselves. That gathering was not a trial; a trial would have neutral arbiters and wouldn't be a collective bitch session.

    Note also this: "Curiously, when people look around, naught remains of Elminster but some green sparkles and smoke. In his place is the shade of Syluné, glaring angrily at Bran Skorlsun. She gestures, and his Harper pin cracks and falls into three pieces, and she disappears before the pieces hit the floor."

    Elminster was noted as being "impatient for the proceedings to be over with." and it said he was actively avoiding the accusers. He also calmed Storm down.

    So we have a Chosen of Mystra taking an action, supported by the Chosen of Mystra he's married to, not being opposed by at least four other Chosen of Mystra (Dove, Elminster, Alustriel, and Storm, once she'd spoken to El), and with a fifth Chosen of Mystra clearly showing her support by sundering the Harper pin of the lead accuser.

    Clearly, neither the Chosen of Mystra, nor Mystra herself, considered Khelben to have committed the heinous crimes you accuse him of.

    You refer in your rebuttal to the Washington State Patrol not hiring bad guys... But it's a known fact that police organizations do utilize criminal informants, and those informants often get reduced punishments or entirely let off the hook if they help bring down more prominent and more consequential criminals. A gang member who helps police take down the gang leader, for example, will likely get the lightest possible sentence.

    So does that make all of these police organizations bad guys?

    No, it does not. Because those police are doing the same thing Khelben is: not worrying about the lesser crimes when they can stop the greater ones. They're looking at the larger picture.

    Khelben didn't cause Fzoul to do a single thing. Fzoul was already the willing servant of an evil power. He was going to work towards the benefit of that evil power regardless of what Khelben did; he'd already spent years doing so. Khelben's actions did, however, limit Fzoul's actions to a smaller area -- thus ensuring less people were affected.

    If you want to say that Khelben was the cause of everything Fzoul did, then that means Khelben is responsible for the destruction of a dangerous artifact and a dangerous entity -- the Scepter was sundered into pieces scattered across the planes, and a banelich was destroyed in the process. And the Scepter could even block a deity from all influence on the entire planet. If everything Fzoul did was entirely Khelben's fault, then Khelben removed a threat to the gods themselves and destroyed part of a fallen and dangerous deity. Heinous crimes, indeed.

    We don't know exactly what Khelben was working against, or why he chose the methods he did. It is clear from looking at everything else Khelben did, though, that he was not a villain. I'll not judge anyone on a single questionable action when everything else we know about them shows quite clearly that they were always working against greater evils. One small grey spot on an otherwise white canvas does not make the entire canvas black.


    Robert McDonell
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    Wooly Rupert
    Master of Mischief
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    Posted - 14 Feb 2020 :  11:11:45  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
    It seems to me we are talking past each other and that it is better to just agree to disagree.

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    George Krashos
    Master of Realmslore

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    Posted - 14 Feb 2020 :  14:51:10  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
    I'll just point out that Khelben's "deal" with Fzoul safeguards all lands west of the Thunder Peaks (i.e. all of the Heartlands, Sword Coast and Sword Coast North) from Zhentarim expansion for nearly thirty years. Let me repeat that - thirty YEARS.

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    cpthero2
    Master of Realmslore

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    Posted - 14 Feb 2020 :  14:53:15  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
    Master Rupert,

    I can completely appreciate that resolution! :-)

    Sometimes, that is a reasonable approach to take indeed. I feel we've both made full throated arguments. We can now leave it to the masses of Keep followers to read, enjoy, and ponder.

    Let's agree to disagree. :-)

    Best regards,



    Robert McDonell
    Higher Atlar
    Spirit Soaring
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